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Cat hair on dismembered torso leads police to killer

By Mason White 10:44 AM August 16, 2013
David Hilder 

By: John Roberts
A dismembered torso was found on a beach and it contained a few cat hairs, which led police to the killer.

David Hilder, 47,of Southsea, Hampshire, United Kingdom, was convicted of manslaughter after his beloved cat’s hairs was found on the dismembered torso, which belonged to his friend.

A database developed by forensic scientists at the University of Leicester was used to demonstrate the probability that the hairs belonged to Hilder’s cat named Tinkler.

The evidence was used as part of the indictment, which led to the successful conviction of Hilder for murder.
Dr. Jon Wetton, who led the project, said: “This is the first time cat DNA has been used in criminal proceedings in the United Kingdom.” Now, he hopes to publish the database so it can be used in future criminal investigations.

After the death of David Guy, 30, his torso was discovered by a group of students on Southsea beach. The body part was wrapped in a curtain inside a garbage bag, and eight cat hairs were found on the torso. Three days later, other parts of his body was discovered nearby.

Hampshire Police sent the hairs to California for analysis, where scientists examined the cat’s DNA. It proved to be a match with Tinker, the suspect’s cat. Analysts have tested 493 randomly selected American cats but none of them had the same type of DNA.

Hampshire Police traced Dr. Wetton, who had created a similar database of United Kingdom dogs while working with the Forensic Science Service. He agreed to create a database of cats in the United Kingdom.
The team was able to obtain samples from a company that is responsible for analyzing the blood of pets for veterinarians across the country.

The samples showed the cats’ age, gender and zip codes with 23 cats from Southsea and another 129 from a number of different places throughout the country.
Only three of the samples from the hairs matched the crime scene, confirming that it was indeed a rare type in the U.K.
This evidence was presented at Winchester Crown Court, and was part of the case, which helped convict Hilder for murder.