Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Chasing a Phantom

For 15 years, German officials worked to track down a serial killer. The unknown woman, was allegedly responsible for six murders, had been called the most dangerous woman in Germany by the police. Finally, after all that time, the mystery has been solved, but not as the cops had hoped:

Police in Germany have admitted that a woman they have been hunting for more than 15 years never in fact existed.

* * *

Investigators had connected her to six murders and an unsolved death based on DNA traces found at the scene.

Police now acknowledge swabs used to collect DNA samples were contaminated by an innocent woman working in a factory in Bavaria.
Oops. The contamination was apparently traced back to the swabs used to collect fluids from the scene. Of course:
One company making swabs said they were not intended for analytical, but only medical use, while another said that there had been no requirement for the swabs to be free of DNA.
Apparently the United States isn't the only country in need of overhauling its forensic science programs.

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