Cat’s DNA Nabs Murder Suspect

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Got some murderous impulses? Then you might do well to invest in a good lint roller. 

Scientists in the UK recently used a  cat DNA database to identify cat hair found on the corpse of David Guy. His dismembered body was found stuffed into a bag on a beach last year.  

Hampshire police worked hard to match the cat hair found around Guy’s body with suspect David Hilder’s cat. 

There was one problem. The DNA drawn from the cat was mitochondrial DNA, a type that lots of cats share. 

Jon Wetton, a geneticist with the University of Leicester explained, “Within each cat hair are two types of DNA, individual-specific ‘nuclear DNA,’ detectable in the roots of some larger hairs, and ‘mitochondrial DNA’ which is shared by all maternally-related individuals and can be found even in the finest hair shafts.”

“Hampshire police wanted to know the evidential strength of the match,” Wetton told the Daily Mail. “I explained that could only be determined with reference to a database of UK cats — which did not exist at the time.”

So Wetton worked with doctoral student Barbara Ottolini to collect DNA from 152 cats across the UK. They examined them and compared their DNA against that found on the body. They found only three samples that matched the DNA of the alleged killer’s cat, Tinker. While not a perfect match, it still suggested that hairs found around Guy’s body likely came from Hilder’s cat.

Hilder was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.   

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Category: Featured, Last Week, News, zzz Previous 3 cat articles

About the Author ()

Karen Nichols is a Pet Industry Influencer, Publisher and Multimedia Designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has over 15 years of experience in the Internet Industry as a User Experience Analyst and Interaction Design Consultant. She's blogged professionally for nine years, and is a respected expert in social media, web analytics, online branding and Wordpress design and development. She's a popular speaker at pet industry conferences. In 2013, she won the BlogPaws social media awards for Best Cat Blog and Best video. In 2012, Karen won the Best Blog Design award for SkeezixTheCat.com. She was one of seven finalists in the national Purina Cat Chow Correspondent search in 2010. She has been a spokesperson for Friskies and judge of the 2012 "The Friskies" video contest, and a juror for the Internet Cat Video Festival. Karen is a member of the Cat Writer's Association, Women in the Pet Industry, the IAABC, The Interactive Design Association and the North Bay Multimedia Association.

Comments (3)

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  1. Max says:

    I read something somewhere online, which has to be true because the Internet cannot lie, that it’s impossible for people with pets to leave the house without the pet’s DNA on them, so it might be a future thingy in forensics. Fluffy gonna bring yo’ asterisk DOWN, witchwiddab!

  2. Buddy says:

    But what happened to the cat???

  3. what a great story. can’t wait until they make a movie out of that. i fink Benedict Cumberbatch (from the latest BBC Sherlock series) should play teh cat.

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