We have just heard that Scotland Yard requested Portugal gather DNA from four suspects last year. The question in folks mind is, what will they link this DNA to? Was there some DNA in this case we are unaware of or are they going to retest some evidence and find this DNA? Or is something very concerning going on with Scotland Yard's request? Let me give you two examples to ponder.
There is a very high profile case in the US that included ten murders, four of them of a family that began the supposed series. The case, the BTK (bind, torture, kill) homicides, though heavily investigated by local police and the FBI came up with blank for thirty years. Then, through a weird twist, a man by the name of Dennis Rader, a local married man who did code enforcement, made a dumb mistake and got the police interested in him. Very long story short, he was arrested and charged with all the murders in this series, and he confessed in court to each and every one of them with a description of how he did them; there was no actual trial. One of the most unusual wrap-ups I have ever seen. He got life in prison and some deal for his wife. There was a huge press conference with local law enforcement and the FBI and lot of congratulations passed around. Everyone went home happy; the police agencies, the media because they got a great story, the public because the police finally caught the guy, and the families who now had answers.
Except there is a big problem with this ending to the BTK crimes; the police never had to show the evidence they claimed they found at this man's house and they never showed the DNA reports that supposedly linked this man to the deaths of the family of four and one other woman who was killed a number of years later. Because this man confessed in court and was truly very creepy, no one seems to be questioning his links to all the crimes.
Let me say this; the guy is a serial killer, no doubt. I believe he killed one of the female victims (I believe a later copycat killing) and I believe he murdered a woman not specifically included in the series who was murdered after 1990, when the death penalty was reinstated in Kansas. I believe the prosecutors made a deal; confess to the other crimes and we won't charge you with the one which will get you executed. In other words, Rader could become an infamous serial killer and duck the death penalty at the same time; I would take the deal if I were him.
But, I think the court confession was a charade. Dennis Rader didn't say anything in the courtroom that we already didn't know or the police already didn't know. But it is the DNA claim that was really fraudulent. First of all, I know firsthand from the detectives on the family homicides that the DNA was too degraded to be of use. Which is why my suspect in those crimes (who was a suspect in an unrelated murder and was one of the main suspects in the BTK killings at the time) could never be charged. Rader's DNA was also supposedly linked to a crime in which the woman's husband had been a suspect right up until Rader was arrested. Now, how could that be if there was DNA available in that crime all along? But, I guess the media doesn't want to ask those questions because the storybook ending was very satisfying.
There is another case in which a convicted (for life) rapist just got charged and convicted of a twenty-year-old crime. He was convicted solely on DNA; no witnesses, no other physical evidence, no confession. In fact, the man took an Alford plea in court (which means he admits the state may be able to convict him but he doesn't plead guilty to the crime) and he stood up in court and told the judge, "did not kill that girl." Now, I know a psychopathic rapist is hard to believe; after all, he didn't even allow his defense to fight the case. He took the Alford plea on Day Two, stunning his lawyers who have told me he did so because he couldn't get the drugs he wanted in the jail he was transferred to and he didn't want to lose his prison cell back at the penitentiary if he was gone too long. He already had life and this conviction wasn't going to affect him in any way. They told me the DNA report was questionable.
I bet it was. The detective on that case AND the state's attorney had both told me years back that "there were no sperm fractions found" which meant there was no DNA with which to match to anyone; hence, no arrest could be made and certainly no conviction. Yet, oddly enough, years later, the case was suddenly closed with magic DNA and a suspect nobody cared about.
People hear DNA and they automatically think that this means solid proof. They don't understand that DNA testing has its failures, it incorrect analyses, and, sometimes, the claim DNA linked a suspect to a crime can be completely fabricated. It is hard for people to believe this goes on, but it does and the issue has been rarely addressed (although one book, Tainting Evidence, broke the silence on this).
So, if DNA suddenly pops up to link to any of these recently questioned suspects, I think the majority of people will accept a Scotland Yard claim to its existence and validity. One way they can do this is to claim that a partial profile matches one of the suspects, enough for Scotland Yard to be convinced the suspect was involved in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, but, unfortunately, not to the extremely high legal standard required to prosecute. If they claim there is a partial match and then add in some behavioral stuff, like phone calls made that night, the case can be "solved" and shelved of the and most public will accept the conclusion without giving too much thought to the possibility that no DNA actually really linked any of these men to the death and disappearance of Madeleine.
Criminal Profiler Pat Brown
July 2, 2014
Published: July 27, 2011
By Pat Brown
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What really happened to Madeleine Beth McCann in Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007? Was she abducted as the Gerry and Kate have claimed or did something happen to Madeleine on May 3 in the vacation apartment and the incident covered up? Criminal Profiler Pat Brown analyzes the evidence and takes the readers through the steps of profiling, developing a theory that is intriguing and controversial.