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The Forensic Files of Colin Pitchfork Essay

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The fifteen year old girl, Lynda Mann, was found dead on the morning of November 22, 1983. She was located in a footpath in Narborough, England by a hospital porter making his way to work. She had been raped and strangled the night before, while headed to a friend’s house. Traces of semen showed that the murderer was a Group A secretor with a strong phosphoglucomutase (PHM) 1+ enzyme. These two factors are found in only 10 percent of the adult male population. Even though this wouldn’t identify the exact killer, it surely narrowed down the amount of suspects.

In a rapid attempt to identify suspects, authorities went straight to the Carlton Hayes Mental Institution. When this failed, searches rooted out to nearby adjacent villages such as Enderby and Littlethorpe. Although detectives were hindered by every move they made, later they would realize that they had actually questioned the man during the sweep out. The computer had marked the man for two reasons, he had previous convictions for indecent exposure and he had been referred for therapy as an outpatient at the mental institution.

The suspect had claimed to have been babysitting his son the night of the murder, and at the time of the murder he had lived a few miles outside of the probable catchment area, so he was dismissed as a suspect. Two years in a row, someone had left a small cross at the spot where Lynda’s body was found. Before it could happen a third year in a row, the murderer struck again. Dawn Ashworth, also age fifteen. She was from Enderby, and disappeared in broad daylight on July 31, 1986.

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Two days later, her torn up body was found less than a mile from where Lynda’s body was found. A kitchen porter at the Carlton Hayes Hospital knew an awful lot about the murder of Dawn Ashworth. Although a blood test showed that he wasn’t a PGM 1+, his insistence seemed authentic. He had claimed to know nothing about the first murder though. The boy’s father had suggested going to a 36 year old scientist at a nearby Leicester University. He had worked, and perfected, a system of identification based on DNA called genetic fingerprinting.

In fall of 1984, Dr. Alec Jeffreys made a discovery that has played an important role in this case and others to come. He had perfected a technique so that identifiable genetic markers could be developed on an X-Ray, as a sort of “bar code’ and then compared with other specimens. He was asked to extract semen from the killer’s semen and to compare it to the kitchen porter’s blood sample. The results proved that the porter hadn’t killed Lynda Mann or Dawn Ashworth.

This case made history: on November 21, 1986, the teenaged kitchen porter was the first accused murderer to be cleared as a result of DNA fingerprinting. With this technique intact, the whole local male population was tested. In 1987, blood was drawn from every local male between the ages of sixteen and thirty-four. Ian Kelly had admitted to his fellow co-workers that Colin Pitchfork had bullied him into taking the blood test on his behalf. Another man had confessed to being offered 200 pounds by Colin to take the test for him, but had declined the offer.

A woman who overheard the discussion had contemplated reporting what she had heard to police. Eventually she did. On September 19, 1987, detectives arrested Kelly and then later made a call to the home of Colin Pitchfork. A sample of Pitchfork’s blood was then rushed to the lab of Dr. Jeffreys’. The genetic barcode was found to be identical to the DNA sample of the killer-rapist. On January 22, 1988, Pitchfork pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life prison.

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