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Friday 20 September 2019

Radical advances in genetic tests offers new clues in unsolved homicide cases

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Stock picture

Ralph Riegel

Major advances with DNA and forensic testing has offered detectives fresh hope in tackling long unsolved murder cases.

Genetic fingerprint analysis has advanced to the point where samples which couldn't even be identified a decade ago - let alone tested - can now be processed.

Techniques have advanced to the point where DNA sampling can even be conducted from material several decades old.

DNA testing was largely unheard of when Marie Tierney vanished in October 1984 only for her strangled body to be discovered in a Kilkenny ditch two months later.

The ability to conduct high-tech DNA 'swipes' at murder scenes is now one of the single greatest assets wielded by detectives in hunting for killers.

Similarly, forensic teams now have a raft of new technologies to allow for the minute examination of everything at a crime scene ranging from fibres to organic material.

Back in the 1980s, it was a very different story for detectives.

They effectively relied on blood traces, fingerprint samples and forensic evidence, either visual to the naked eye or under a microscope.

Today, murder cases can be resolved on evidence which is often entirely invisible to the naked eye.

Central to the breakthroughs in testing technology is the ability to analyse even the most minute samples for the presence of DNA.

Testing technology is now so advanced that DNA recovery is judged to be 100 times more effective than it was just 15 years ago.

The ability to analyse crime scenes for DNA - even in the most minute samples - has been further boosted by the creation of Ireland's DNA database.

This aims to replicate the success of DNA databases in the US and UK which are now credited with a dramatic increase in the number of crimes resolved and the speed with which suspects can be identified.

Irish Independent

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