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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 7, 2014 / 7 Nissan, 5774

Pets Help Solve Crimes

By Diane Dimond




JewishWorldReview.com | As far as crime laboratories go, it is not very impressive-looking. And it is not very big, with a permanent staff of just three forensic scientists and a few interns. But the work product that comes out of the Veterinarian Forensic Lab at the University of California, Davis is important, and it has changed the way crimes are investigated and prosecuted worldwide.

The lab has been called the "CSI of the four-legged world," and it is the nation's first laboratory dedicated to animal DNA profiling. It's accredited by the prestigious American Society of Crime Lab Directors because the VFL conducts animal-related forensic tests as rigorously as any lab dealing with human DNA.

Simply put, the VFL uses DNA from animals to help solve a variety of crimes — from burglary and animal abuse to sexual assault and murder. They analyze crime scene evidence that, decades ago, might have been overlooked by detectives. Today, investigators automatically collect any animal fur or hairs, feces, urine stains and tissue samples found at a crime scene. They also take mouth swabs from pets after they defend their owners against attackers.

The case that helped establish the lab came from New Hampton, Iowa, in 1999. A sexual assault victim was not able to pick her attacker out of a police lineup. But she remembered that, as she stood near the man's truck to answer his request for directions, her dog had lifted his leg and urinated on one of the tires. Two days later, police found the truck, swabbed the tire and the lab (then the foremost test center for bloodtyping cattle) was able to place the suspect where he insisted he had never been - - alongside the victim. That conviction convinced everyone of the need for a full-time animal DNA testing lab.

The VFL's director, Beth Wictum, told me the lab handles about 100 cases every year. She's particularly proud of their work on a grisly triple homicide case out of Indiana. The suspect insisted he had not stood at the spot where three workmen had been shot execution style. But police found a shoe print left behind in a poop patty and scooped up the evidence for evaluation. The lab was able to genetically match the droppings to the property owner's dog and to a pencil eraser-sized specimen taken from the suspect's shoe. Bingo! The suspect was convicted and is serving life in prison.

On Christmas Eve 2002, Kevin Butler became the victim of a deadly home invasion. When two men stormed in to Butler's Dallas apartment and began to beat him, his prized cockatoo - - named Bird for basketball great Larry Bird - - tried to come to Butler's rescue. He repeatedly dove down on the attackers, clawing at their skin and pecking at their heads. Sadly, police found Bird dead on the kitchen floor, stabbed to death with a fork. But in the blood trails Bird created and in the valiant pet's beak they found human DNA. The lab matched the specimens to the prime suspect and helped put Butler's murderer behind bars for life.

Director Wictum says her forensic team is, "often asked to test cat and dog hairs from blankets, rugs and sheets that are wrapped around homicide victims." Just such a cold case out of Florida is Wictum's current favorite.



The body of Shantay Huntington was found in a wooded area of Loxahatchee, Fla., wrapped in a shower curtain. CSI agents found dog hairs on the curtain and sent them to the VFL for testing. The lab identified the hairs as matching a family of dogs that were raised by Liliana Toledo. When questioned, she pointed the finger at Guillermo Romero her former brother-in-law who she described as terrifying and violent. He was raising two of the Akita puppies. When police got a DNA sample from Romero, it also matched DNA on the curtain. Case solved.

Besides its work in the U.S. the VFL has worked criminal investigations in several countries including Japan, Ireland, Canada, Australia and Argentina. Scotland Yard approached the lab to help solve the stabbing death of a bouncer outside a pub. Drops of non-human blood had flummoxed the Brits.

"We did the testing," Wictum said during a radio interview, "And we were able to match the blood on the sidewalk to the suspect's dog, which had apparently had his ear nicked during the altercation." It was the first time dog DNA was used in a U.K. trial.

Many times bereft pet owners contact the lab to find out how their beloved Fluffy or Fido died. Wictum remembers one particular case in which a woman felt sure that a certain neighbor's dog had killed her cat. DNA tests of the cat's wounds proved the culprit had been a bobcat.

The lab works lots of dog-on-human attack cases, many of them involving children. In fact, one such case was upgraded to homicide after the female victim was taken off life support and died. But the staff at VFL knows first hand that what humans do to animals can be just as vicious.

Law enforcement in Florida had their eye on a suspected serial animal abuser and sent items to the lab for testing. Police believed this man had started out torturing hamsters, graduated to shooting razor arrows at livestock and then began killing goats and llamas in hideous ways. The lab was able to link the suspect to the grisly crimes when they identified the blood on his shirt as being from a llama. After the arrest, the lead detective breathed a sigh of relief

"He told me that they were going to keep an eye on him once he got out of prison because he was looked to be at high risk for eventually killing people," Wictum said.

All of us with pets have a special bond — a special way of communicating with our beloved animals. Now, thanks to the Veterinarian Forensic Lab, whether the animal is the victim, the perpetrator or simply a witness to a crime, they can communicate to the courts as well.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Investigative journalist and syndicated columnist Diane Dimond has covered all manner of celebrity and pop culture stories.

Diane Dimond Archives

© 2014, Creators Syndicate.

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