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August 16, 2013

Surrender! Cat DNA Helps Convict Murderer

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It must have been a lot of work collecting samples from 152 UK cats to create a DNA database to help convict a cold-blooded killer.

Last summer, the dismembered torso of David Guy, age 30, was found hidden in a trash bag on a British beach. The body was wrapped in a curtain containing eight cat hairs. Detectives wanted to determine if the pet hair matched the hair of Tinker, a cat belonging to Guy's neighbor, David Hilder. The hair samples from the crime scene and a sample from Tinker were sent to California where a match was verified. 

Because cat hair provides mitochondrial DNA information that is less specific than blood or saliva, a large number of cats had to be sampled to establish the likelihood of a good match. The sampling indicated that only there was only a 1 in 100 chance that the hair was not from Tinker.   

"This is the first time cat DNA has been used in a criminal trial in the U.K. This could be a real boon for forensic science, as the 10 million cats in the UK are unwittingly tagging the clothes and furnishings in more than a quarter of households," said Jon Wetton from the University of Leicester. 

Hilder, 47, was sentenced to life in prison. While the cat hair was just one portion of the evidence to prosecute the murderer, it does make one pause to consider the power cats now possibly weild.

Where is Tinker now?

As for the cat, Tinker, he is reportedly alive and well with new owners who most likely have a healthy respect for the feline.

Tinker   

 

Lewis on August 17 at 5:39 AM said:

Will my vet say I need shots if I ask him to register my cat's DNA? Maybe he's descended from Cleopatra's cat.

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