On November 21, 1983, 15-year-old Lynda Mann is found raped and strangled on a deserted footpath in Narborough, Leicestershire, England. Using forensic science techniques police linked a semen sample taken from her body to a person that matched only 10 percent of males. With no other leads or evidence, the case was left open.
On July 31, 1986, another 15-year-old girl, Dawn Ashworth, took a shortcut instead of taking her normal route home. Two days later, her body was found in a wooded area near a footpath called Ten Pound Lane. She had been beaten, savagely raped, and strangled to death. The M.O. of the murder matched that of the first attack, and semen samples revealed the same blood type.
The prime suspect was a local 17-year-old youth, Richard Buckland, who revealed knowledge of Ashworth's body, and admitted the crime under questioning, but denied the first murder. Law enforcement then undertook an investigation in which 5,000 local men were asked to volunteer blood or saliva samples. This took six months, and no matches were found. Later, a man named Ian Kelly was heard bragging that he had obtained cash for giving a sample while masquerading as his friend, Colin Pitchfork, a local baker. On September 19, 1987 Pitchfork was arrested at his home in Haybarn Close, in the neighboring village of Littlehorpe and a sample was found to match that of the killer. During subsequent questioning, Pitchfork admitted to flashing females over 1000 times, a compulsion that he had started in his early teens. Flashing led to sexual assault and then to strangling his victims in order to protect his identity. He pleaded guilty to the two rape/murders in addition to another incident of sexual assault that he had committed. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and concurrent terms for rape and murder, but with no minimum sentence (thus, presenting the opportunity for release after ten years). On May 14, 2009, Pitchfork’s legal appeal was heard and he won a two-year reduction in his original sentence of a minimum 30 years imprisonment. Colin Pitchfork is the first British criminal to be convicted of murder based on DNA evidence, and the first to be caught as a result of mass DNA screening.
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