Victims and Investigators Deserve This Technology is the latest guest blog post by Jared Bradley, MBA. Our readers know that Jared is the CEO of M-Vac Systems and that he has joined the fight to solve as many cold cases as possible.
Jared’s father, the late Dr. Bruce Bradley, was founder of Microbial-Vac Systems and inventor of the M-Vac. Initially developed to promote food safety, this unique collecting system now assists law enforcement as well. If you wish to see the M-Vac in action, click here.
An ex-wife beaten in her bedroom, drugged with a powerful sedative, was found drowned in her bath tub. A girl, raped and murdered, was found in a body of water. A man bludgeoned by a brick was found in a field in China. A husband, bound with a restraint tied around his legs, was found in his car at the bottom of a ravine in the Middle East. A business owner gets robbed while opening his store by two burglars who had cut a hole in the business roof and slid down a rope. A gang member coming out of a convenience store gets shot point-blank by a rival gang member. A woman, bludgeoned with a decorative cement block, is found in her yard after she had an argument with her boyfriend the previous night.
What do all these brutal, senseless crimes have in common? They all lacked a viable DNA profile that would tie a suspect to the crime.
There are thousands of cases like these all over the world. Fortunately, investigative teams now have access to a new wet-vacuum forensic DNA collection method. This method will enable the team to produce a DNA profile strong enough to move the case forward.
Another commonality in these cases is that investigators had already pieced together the majority of the case. However, they only needed one or two more critical components before the case could be raised to the next level. For example, in the Uta von Schwedler murder, which is the first case mentioned in this post, Uta’s ex-husband Dr. John Wall attacked her in her bedroom. He smothered her with a pillow, drugged her with a potent anxiety medication that quickly caused incapacitation, and then he put her in her bathtub to drown. He staged the scene as a suicide to cover for the heinous murder that it really was. The investigative team had put the majority of the puzzle together and was confident that Dr John Wall had committed the murder. However, without discriminatory DNA evidence tying Wall to the scene the prosecution was not certain that they could get a conviction. Once a viable DNA profile was obtained that ensured that the case would be fully understood, criminal charges were filed within hours.
The case from the Middle East is intriguing as well (see first paragraph). It shows what technology and extensive investigative work can do. A man is discovered at the bottom of a ravine in his car. He turns out to be an Emirati Officer. At first sight, he appears to be the victim of a tragic traffic accident. However, as the deceased was retrieved from his car law enforcement officers noticed a t-shirt tied around his legs. This launched the investigation that ultimately uncovered a devious plot between the victim’s wife and two “hitmen.”
Determined to end her marriage, the husband got initially drugged with sleeping pills. The he was injected with insulin to incapacitate him. After that, they staged a break-in at the house wanting police to believe that two robbers came in and beat the husband to death. Many of these details were obtained through investigative questioning and were confirmed through electronic correspondence, phone records and internet searches. However, the real breakthrough came when investigators used a wet-vacuum forensic DNA collection system on the t-shirt that tied the husband’s legs. The collection system generated four DNA profiles – the husband, the wife, and the two hired hitmen.
The profiles were used to gain confessions from the male suspects. Those confessions were then used against the wife who ultimately confessed. She detailed the use of insulin as the primary drug that enabled the three culprits to transport the victim to his car, drive him to the ravine, put him in the driver’s seat, and send the car over the ravine which ultimately caused his death. Before police had those DNA profiles, toxicology tests were carried out. The suspects had been questioned and every lead had been followed. Despite that the case stalled until the DNA profile gave police the breakthrough they needed. Fortunately technology, the proper application of evidence collection, preservation and discrimination had been followed and was used with success!
The bottom line is that crime solving by law enforcement and modern technology are now fully intertwined. Gone are the days when a very skilful inspector with a long coat and curved pipe could walk onto a crime scene and deduct from the visible evidence what devious crime had been committed and why. In today’s world even patrol officers must have at least some knowledge and training in information and communication technology, cellular biology, courtroom rules, fingerprinting, evidence preservation, the digital age, and be able to evaluate secondary threats on the fly, just to name a few. Despite those complexities and distractions, our law enforcement officers continue to do the best job they can with what they have. They may not be perfect but based on what we as a society ask them to do on a daily basis, they deserve our attention, respect, and willingness to give them the technology, training, and support that they need to solve crime.