Criminal Cases Solved by DNA Evidence

From cold cases to locating the real killer, DNA has played a role in solving crimes where a murder has taken place. In this article, you are introduced to the details of a murdered housewife and two teenage girls.

The Case of Marcia Lynn Christian

Marcia Lynn Christian was murdered in 1976, but it wasn’t until 34 years later that her case was finally solved. Marcia left her home to attend a job interview and never made it back home. The police revealed that she had been sexually assaulted in her own car. Her body was left in the woods when hikers spotted her body because her hand had been exposed. Under Marcia’s car, there was a blanket that was found and collected as evidence. It was stored in the evidence room for decades. A breakthrough in the case came when the blanket was sent to a lab and tested for DNA.

The profile that emerged in the California databank showed a match for Mark David Jackson. Unfortunately, the killer would never see the inside of a cell for murdering Marcia. He died of a drug overdose in 1997. His previous crime history revealed that he had committed a variety of crimes during his life, including kidnappings, rapes, and child molestations.  For those crimes, he had spent a great deal of time in jail. As for Marcia’s case, it is known as one of the oldest cases in California to be solved by the use of DNA.

The Case of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth

One of the first cases to use DNA to convict a murderer dates back to the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl named Lynda Mann. She was killed in 1983, as she took an isolated route while walking home from a friend’s house. The crime took place in Leicestershire, England and no one was arrested at the time for her murder. Three years had passed and a 15-year-old girl named Dawn Ashworth was raped and murdered on the same path as Lynda Mann.

Richard Buckland, 17, was charged for the crime despite not having any evidence on the teen. To make matters worse, he confessed to the crime , although his admission to guilt was seen as coerced and inconsistent. In an effort to strengthen their case, investigators decided to give a new technology a try. They were referred to the “genetic fingerprinting” that had been developed by Alec Jeffreys. The semen collected from the two girls was tested. Dr. Jeffreys found that the DNA profiles matched the same offender, but the DNA did not match Buckland.

Blood samples were collected from the majority of the male population that lived in the village. As a result, they learned that Colin Pitchfork was a DNA match. Pitchfork was already a convicted sex offender and quickly confessed to the crime. He was sentenced to life in prison. This case was quite significant, as it not only was the first of its kind to convict a murderer, but also one that set free an innocent man using DNA evidence.