Digging for the Truth

Authorities have completed the search of Phillip & Nancy Garrido’s property, as well as that of their neighbor’s, where a bone fragment was found. Police do not at this time know the origins of the fragment, and are having it tested to see if it is human or animal in nature.

The four-day search included the Garrido home and backyard, which contained a tent-and-shed compound that housed Jaycee Dugard during the 18 years she was allegedly held captive by the couple. The neighboring property was also searched, as Phillip Garrido may have served as caretaker at one time or another.

Recent reports mention the possibility of Phillip Garrido’s alleged connection to a number of child abductions in the Antioch, CA, area where he resides, which occurred in the late 1980s prior to Jaycee Dugard’s kidnapping. Local authorities are also looking into any ties between Garrido and a string of murders involving prostitutes. No evidence has been provided to confirm these allegations. At this time, Phillip & Nancy Garrido have pleaded not guilty to the charges made against them.

Authorities search the property of the couple charged with kidnapping Jaycee Dugard in 1991.
Authorities search the property of the couple charged with kidnapping Jaycee Dugard in 1991.

Defending DNA?

The infallibility of DNA is in question after Israeli researchers discover the genetic code can be forged.
The infallibility of DNA is in question after Israeli researchers discover the genetic code can be forged.

Scientists: DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated

Observing the use of DNA evidence in the judicial system during the past 20 years has been exciting for this forensics nerd. The potential for further analysis to narrow an individual’s genome code and separate it from other suspects has grown exponentially. The judicial system has experienced what you might call growing pains–several states have called moratoriums on death penalty cases, while other states have had case reviews if DNA is present but was not eligible for testing when the case was first tried in court. What has since come to pass is a number of people have been exonerated–cleared of the crime they were convicted of–due to the introduction of DNA evidence. In other cases, some individuals remain incarcerated because the DNA proved that person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Or so we thought.

So now what is our less-than-stellar justice system supposed to do since a group of Israeli researchers have reported that DNA can be fabricated? Where does that leave us? I realize that the average criminal isn’t going to bother going to all of the trouble to plant someone else’s DNA at a crime scene, but anything is possible in these troubled times. Our country was making strides in improving the weaknesses in our justice system, yet now we have to defend the one piece of evidence that we wholeheartedly (or rather foolheartedly) believed in, thanks to TV shows like CSI, Forensic Files, Dateline, and 48 Hours Mystery. This new finding brings up so many unanswered questions. Have we been wrong about DNA all along?