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Crime Your Rights Online

Dutch Cold Case Murder Solved After 8000 People Gave Their DNA 513

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-me dept.
sciencewatcher writes "A 1999 cold case rape and murder in The Netherlands has been solved. Dutch police asked 8000+ men living within 5 kilometers of the crime scene to volunteer their DNA so that the murderer could be traced through (close or distant) family members sharing part of this DNA. As it turned out, the man now in custody turned in his own DNA, resulting in a 100% match. The request of the police was discussed here on Slashdot in September. The percentage of people participating was closing in on 90%; in the midsize town of the victim it was 96%."
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Dutch Cold Case Murder Solved After 8000 People Gave Their DNA

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  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:23AM (#42027059) Journal

    It is interesting to see the different attitudes toward volunteering information to the government. If NYC asked something like this, it would be an outrage and participation would be roughly 1% if it moved forward at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Lucky to get 1% before the ACLU (Or some other group) files suit to block

      • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday November 19, 2012 @11:45AM (#42028111)
        I would hope so. It could be that one "success" of volunteer submissions could pave the way to some lawmaker suggesting it be "encouraged." Then outright mandatory. I'd rather err on the side of having murders and rapes go unsolved, rather than err on the side of police having everyone's DNA sequences.
        • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Monday November 19, 2012 @01:58PM (#42029921)

          I'd rather err on the side of having murders and rapes go unsolved, rather than err on the side of police having everyone's DNA sequences.

          Why? Not trolling, but it seems to me that if everyone's DNA were on record the crime rates would drop through the floor.
          Maybe I feel this way because a good friend of mine was raped a few years ago, and if all DNA were recorded the asshole who did that to her would probably be rotting in jail right now.

          • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mariox19 (632969) on Monday November 19, 2012 @02:20PM (#42030155)

            There is no end to the amount of crimes that could be prevented or solved if only we were ready to embrace draconian governmental invasions of our privacy and restrictions on our freedom of choice. Do you realize that if we only had laws forbidding women from traveling alone in public without being escorted by a male relative how many rapes we might prevent each year?

            • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

              by viperidaenz (2515578) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:02PM (#42030727)
              zero involving close family members. Those ones would probably increase dramatically.
          • by Macgrrl (762836)

            Not trolling, but it seems to me that if everyone's DNA were on record the crime rates would drop through the floor.

            You'd think so, wouldn't you. But if you read the summary, the guy in question volunteered his own DNA which came back as a 100% match. Most criminals aren't that smart. They frequently believe they won't get caught - if they even think about it at all.

            Having sentencing that is intended to be a deterrent - up to and including the death sentence in some states - doesn't stop people from trying to get away with murder.

            People committing assault/rape/murder are rarely thinking with their rational brain when t

    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:34AM (#42027199)

      "volunteering"...?

      "You can volunteer your DNA to eliminate yourself as a suspect, and eliminate the need of SWAT kicking down your door to get the DNA."

      • Exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @11:02AM (#42027535)

        If government is involved, there is no "volunteering". The threat of physical force is ALWAYS present with government, no matter how far under the carpet they sweep it, or how much smokescreen they blow in front of it.

        • Re:Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @12:23PM (#42028617)
          A few years back, the TSA had just started requiring people to put their shoes through the X-ray scanner, but it wasn't completely mandatory yet. At one airport, we were informed that we didn't have to take off our shoes, but if we didn't, we could be subject to additional security. Needless to say, everyone "voluntarily" took their shoes off. If there's a punishment for not complying, it isn't voluntary.
          • by guises (2423402)
            Wasn't this the reasoning behind the "enhanced patdown" procedure? To get more people to go through the nudie scanners? I recall the head of the TSA said this explicitly.
        • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Informative)

          by Incadenza (560402) on Monday November 19, 2012 @05:28PM (#42032563)
          Here in the Netherlands there is. It is unlawful to take anything from your body without your consent. Material taken without your consent cannot be used as a proof. A couple of years ago they tricked somebody into a friendly chat at the police station, including a cup of coffee on the house. Afterwards the cup was sent to the DNA lab for all the DNA traces he had left on them! End result: the guy was set free, because the proof was unlawful.
      • by yabos (719499)
        Then if they are really interested in you, they can get a warrant. Stand up for your rights.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know about their government but what I do know is that our government would store that DNA data forever. Not only that but they would share this DNA data with anyone, possibly including Insurance companies, and private corporations. Finally the last straw is that even if they don't just give the data away they will not take any consideration to secure the data.

      This is why we don't want the NYC government getting the data.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      actually, no - it's interesting to see what actual happens, because the question is - how/why does this DNA match actually matter?

      It's nearly as impossible to associate DNA at a crime scene with an individual being actually involved without further proof - otherwise this is in the same category as trying to assign an IP address to an individual.

    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

      by readin (838620) on Monday November 19, 2012 @11:36AM (#42028001)
      I find this method seriously scary due to the probability of a false positive. I mean, suppose you have a system that only fails once in a million times and the killer has already left the country. You ask the two million people in the metropolitan area to submit DNA. You get on average two matches. One doesn't have an alibi. You take him to trial and tell the jury that he not only doesn't have an alibi, he had a 1 in a million DNA match. It sounds pretty convincing. It is very possible the jury won't have the understanding of statistics to ask "was this a sweep or did you only test a couple of likely suspects?" Nor is it likely that the information will be volunteered by the court.
      • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Informative)

        by vertigovegan (2635771) on Monday November 19, 2012 @12:53PM (#42029063)

        You should find it scary. The odds of a false positive are probably much higher.

        The DNA database in the US has found matches between a black man and a white man if you point it at itself. They only look at about 12 spots and sometimes use just 9 to identify someone.

        "903 pairs of profiles matching at nine or more loci in a database of about 220,000. ...State officials obtained a court order to prevent distribution of the results."

        http://news.lawreader.com/2008/07/22/dna-match-between-two-men-raises-question-about-validity-of-dna-tests%E2%80%A6fbi-seeks-to-block-inquiry/ [lawreader.com]
        http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/accuracy-dna-matches-definitively-identify-suspects-questioned [deathpenaltyinfo.org]

    • by westlake (615356)

      It is interesting to see the different attitudes toward volunteering information to the government. If NYC asked something like this, it would be an outrage and participation would be roughly 1% if it moved forward at all.

      Have you any evidence to support that assertion or do you simply think that these are the words the geek wants to hear?

    • by dbet (1607261)
      That's because NYC would keep your DNA on file forever, and use it to bust you for things that aren't even crimes, like protesting.
  • Sounds improbable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dinfinity (2300094) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:24AM (#42027061)

    "As it turned out, the man now in custody turned in his own DNA, resulting in a 100% match."

    If he was really the guy who did it: Was he wondering whether the DNA-research would work? Why not just turn himself in?

    • Re:Sounds improbable (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Romwell (873455) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:27AM (#42027109)
      Well, turning yourself in is admitting guilt and is psychologically hard. This way, he is not directly admitting guilt (he does the same thing 90% of people in the neighborhood are doing), and there's a chance they won't get him, so it probably is much easier to (effectively) turn oneself in this this way.
    • I wondered about that too. Of course, if a few family members had already donated, and you knew it was only a matter of time before they caught you, it might be worth turning in your own DNA so you can later sow doubt with a "If I were really guilty, why would I have turned in my DNA?" defense.

      Or maybe not. Who knows at this point?
    • Re:Sounds improbable (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RabbitWho (1805112) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:29AM (#42027129) Homepage Journal
      If 96% of people had done it the social pressure might have been insurmountable. He might have figured if he was the only person in the village who didn't give DNA the police would investigate him and find him anyway, so he might as well give the DNA, hope that there would be a mistake, or hope that he could claim "If it was me, then why did I give them my DNA?"
      • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:41AM (#42027287)

        If 96% of people had done it the social pressure might have been insurmountable. He might have figured if he was the only person in the village who didn't give DNA the police would investigate him and find him anyway, so he might as well give the DNA, hope that there would be a mistake, or hope that he could claim "If it was me, then why did I give them my DNA?"

        That's why the US has the fifth amendment (and why a right against self-incrimination is a good idea in general). Not turning in DNA is not probable cause for an investigation, and if that is why they started investigating him, the case would have a high chance of being thrown out (of course, the family DNA might be enough to establish an investigation). I'm not sure what the law is on this in the Netherlands.

        • That's why the US has the fifth amendment (and why a right against self-incrimination is a good idea in general).

          Please elaborate on how this is a good thing, because I'm really confused about it. To me it sounds like, the police finally found a way to identify a murderer, but then this 5th amendment thingy comes in and it gets thrown out on a technicality. What's good about that?

          I've read the Wikipedia entry about the self-incrimination aspect of it, to prevent confessions obtained under torture for exampl

          • by jythie (914043)
            Even with the 5th amendment the US has had problems with dragnets in the past, the police needing a lead and rounding up 'the usual suspects' which in many cases became little more then harassment of weak populations. There is also the historical problem of defending yourself once the police have their eye on you.... there have been countless issues with bad (or just incomplete) science resulting in 'this person did it!' and the person having to prove otherwise on their own dollar.. which when you have the
          • That's why the US has the fifth amendment (and why a right against self-incrimination is a good idea in general).

            Please elaborate on how this is a good thing, because I'm really confused about it. To me it sounds like, the police finally found a way to identify a murderer, but then this 5th amendment thingy comes in and it gets thrown out on a technicality. What's good about that?

            I've read the Wikipedia entry about the self-incrimination aspect of it, to prevent confessions obtained under torture for example. But that's a far cry from what we have in this case.

            The relevant Fifth Amendment [wikipedia.org] protection reads:

            ...nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,

            US courts have ruled that a criminal suspect/defendant may not refuse DNA testing based on their Fifth Amendment rights. However, the Fourth Amendment [wikipedia.org] requires a warrant issued by a judge before a "search" can be performed.

            US courts have ruled that (except for convicted felons and other narrow exceptions) police must obtain a warrant before coercing someone to give up a DNA sample.

            Ho

        • Not turning in DNA is not probable cause for an investigation

          Is "being the only remaining suspect living in the area" cause enough? Also, there's plenty of investigating that can be done without probable cause or a search warrant.

        • Aren't they actually investigating the entire village and so if 96% of the men living there have eliminated themselves as suspects it would seem that then focusing on the remaining men who could still possibly have done it would be entirely correct. They'd be looking closer at him because he as one of only a handful of people left who could possibly be guilty.
        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          The "didn't turn in DNA" part is not necessary part of the evidence.

          It narrows down the list of suspects, if only one doesn't give DNA the investigation can focus on that individual. If that person is indeed the culprit, there is a very good chance that other evidence is found, directly incriminating the person, and with enough evidence search warrants may be received for more detailed searches. If he is not the culprit, there will be no such evidence.

        • by westlake (615356)

          That's why the US has the fifth amendment (and why a right against self-incrimination is a good idea in general).

          In US law, the privilege against self-incrimination is ultimately rooted as a barrier against the use of isolation, intimidation and torture to extract confessions.

          There is much you cannot be forced to say.

          But very few barriers to the physical evidence you may be compelled to surrender.

          I am not convinced that, under US law the barrier to launching an investigation against a particular person is anywhere near as high as that needed to support a search and seizure.

    • Re:Sounds improbable (Score:5, Interesting)

      by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:33AM (#42027181) Homepage
      The guy had a wife and child. If your wife starts saying "Hey you should do this" it's probably hard to say no to her, even if you know it'll result in doom. After all, if you aren't the type who normally cares about or talks about civil liberties it's probably hard to come up with a negative response that doesn't sound fishy as hell.
    • by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me&hotmail,com> on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:39AM (#42027267) Homepage Journal

      The DNA matched DNA found on a cigarette lighter found in her schoolbag - not DNA from the rape itself apparently. It's possible in my mind that the guy is innocent of rape\murder and guilty of selling a schoolgirl a lighter or her guilty of stealing it. More details need to come out, this isn't "solved" in my mind unless they have DNA evidence from the rape itself that matches.

      • Mod parent up (Score:5, Insightful)

        by crazyjj (2598719) * on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:45AM (#42027351)

        That's a VERY important point in this case. People hear "DNA" these days and automatically think "irrefutable evidence." But in this case, it's just further evidence--NOT ironclad proof of guilt.

      • Re:Sounds improbable (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:47AM (#42027375)

        The DNA matched DNA found on a cigarette lighter found in her schoolbag - not DNA from the rape itself apparently.

        The DNA on the lighter matched DNA from the rape itself. The importance of the lighter is that it was sold during the time of the rape in that narrow area - placing the rapist as a resident of that area at the time, and giving high probability that a scan of all the residents would strongly indicate who the attacker was. If the lighter wasn't found, this search couldn't be justified as the rapist could come from anywhere.

      • Re:Sounds improbable (Score:5, Informative)

        by bp+m_i_k_e (901456) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:48AM (#42027389)
        It was more than a lighter exchange. Matching DNA was found on both the lighter and on the girl's body. That led to the DNA-dragnet. Apparently, the suspect's DNA matched the samples from her body and the lighter.
      • by gr8_phk (621180)

        The DNA matched DNA found on a cigarette lighter found in her schoolbag - not DNA from the rape itself apparently .... More details need to come out, this isn't "solved" in my mind unless they have DNA evidence from the rape itself that matches.

        Especially when they're admittedly going on a fishing expedition through the entire town. There is no doubt that there would be other peoples DNA on her personal belongings. Probably several peoples DNA from various places. This is exactly the kind of thing people a

      • Even if it were DNA from the rape, I would have my doubts about their claimed "100%" number. Let's say it's really "only" 99.99%; they have 8000 samples, what are the odds that someone will match? Then you through in the fact that the 99.99% probably includes a truly random sample, which a small town is most assuredly not, and the odds of finding a false positive increase even more.

      • Re:Sounds improbable (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:57AM (#42027471)

        According to TFA, the lighter had DNA that matched trace collected from the girl's body. The lighter is significant because it was being sold in the area at the time of the crime, meaning that the murderer was likely local and not from abroad. This was what motivated the mass DNA testing - it was no longer a shot in the dark.

      • Re:Sounds improbable (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anubis IV (1279820) on Monday November 19, 2012 @11:06AM (#42027585)

        No, that's patently incorrect. The article (which I read, shame on me) makes it clear that the DNA on the cigarette lighter matches DNA present on the body of the victim:

        The decision to launch the dna appeal came after De Vries in May broadcast information about a Playboy cigarette lighter found in Vaatstra's bag which contains dna traces that match the traces found on the schoolgirl's body.

        More or less, they found DNA on her body, but had no immediate reason to suspect it was from someone nearby. When they found the same DNA on the cigarette lighter and were able to determine that the cigarette lighter was on sale in that area around the date that the rape/murder occurred, they thought they had reason to suspect a local individual was involved. That's what led to the DNA dragnet.

        I do agree that police need to be careful with DNA evidence and not use it as proof of guilt where it implies no such thing, but that does not seem to be the case here.

      • Re:Sounds improbable (Score:4, Informative)

        by C0L0PH0N (613595) on Monday November 19, 2012 @11:20AM (#42027785)
        As pointed out in other posts, your statement, "not DNA from the rape itself", is completely incorrect. As the article says, "The decision to launch the DNA appeal came after De Vries in May broadcast information about a Playboy cigarette lighter found in Vaatstra's bag which contains DNA traces that match the traces found on the schoolgirl's body. " The DNA WAS found on the girl's raped body. Because it was ALSO found on a cigarette lighter sold locally, that is why they suspected a local person. So his DNA matches exactly that on the raped girl's body! At least, their approach was logical. Just to be clear.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      "As it turned out, the man now in custody turned in his own DNA, resulting in a 100% match."

      If he was really the guy who did it: Was he wondering whether the DNA-research would work? Why not just turn himself in?

      It was a cold case. Maybe he forgot he was involved in a murder in the first place. "Oh, that murder case! I forgot all about that one... ...wait, give my DNA back, I don't want to volunteer!"

  • by concealment (2447304) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:24AM (#42027071) Homepage Journal

    I don't like the idea of DNA dragnets.

    Just because I'm a male within 5km of a rape does not mean I should be required to give up my DNA.

    First, who owns it? Does it get destroyed? Do I trust government to do that competently? No: it will be sold to the highest bidder.

    Second, am I coerced into doing this? Will they shame me publicly for not giving up my DNA?

    Finally, who else knows about it? Is my health insurance going up because they've found I'm susceptible to lung cancer or AIDS? What if there's a way to tell if I'm gay or prone to alcoholism (hic)?

    There's got to be a better way to solve these rapes than asking all of us to give up private information at the threat of arrest.

    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:29AM (#42027125)

      Assuming you're referring to this article in particular, let me define the most important word in the summary.
      volunteer/välnti()r/
      Noun: A person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.
      Verb: Freely offer to do something

      If you're referring to some possible future event that may or may not happen and is vaguely related to this, then please disregard.

      • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:37AM (#42027235)

        But when does it stop being voluntary? It's voluntary now. But a few cases like this will make it very tempting for lawmakers to move to the next level (making it mandatory for particular areas in particular investigations). And from there, to making it mandatory for the entire citizenry. And from there, to including scans for potential diseases in the database (for the public health, of course). And from there, to insurance companies wanting access to that info....and so on. Pretty soon you could be in a Gattaca [wikipedia.org] type situation.

        Not saying this is going to happen, or that one step necessarily has to follow from the previous. But you have to understand why this particular slippery slope makes a LOT of people VERY nervous.

        • It's not that slippery a slope. At least, where I live, neither DNA collected for any research purpose or fingerprints for passports can not be used in criminal investigation, no matter what. That's the law.
          Now, it can be argued that the law can e changed anytime "the government" feels like it, but then again, by the same logic the law could also be changed to require everybody to wear AV-recording devices 24/7 at the convenience of "the government"...
      • Here's another word for you:

        Definition of COERCE 1: to restrain or dominate by force
        2: to compel to an act or choice
        3: to achieve by force or threat

        "Give us your DNA so we can catch a rapist" fits definition 2 pretty well, don't you think?
        • Yes, yes, you can copy and paste from a dictionary too.

          This is no more compulsion than saying "I'll pay you $5 to mow my lawn" compels you to do break out the lawn mower.

          Anyone could have said "No thanks" and that would have been the end of it, so no, definition 2 does not fit.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Who said anything about being it being required?

      Did you not notice the less 100% participation rate in the summary?

      This was totally voluntary. If you do not like their answers to your questions you don't give it. Now stop karma whoring and read the fine article.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sydin (2598829)
      If you'd taken the additional ten seconds required to actually read more than just the headline, you would have stumbled upon the fact that nothing was "required" of anybody. It was strictly on a volunteer basis. In some countries, and I know this is a shock to those living in the USA, governments still consider people innocent until proven guilty. These people were being asked to provide assistance to their police force in order to catch a rapist, and the vast majority chose to do just that. You'll notice
    • by medv4380 (1604309) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:54AM (#42027433)
      There really ins't a better way. DNA really is our only answer to the issue of Justice in relation to sever crimes like Rape and Murder. People are falsely accused of Rape and Murder all the time, and occasionally we find out about it. Hopefully before we put them to death or destroy their lives. The end goal it to make it so that you cant do those things without getting caught. It's got to the point were Rapists have been doing things to reduce the chance of their DNA being present. Which also reduced the odds that a Rape would result in a child since I don't know of any way of a child being conceived without leaving some DNA behind. If you believe that Rapists are a result of bad genetics taking advantage of sexual reproduction to gain a marginal reproductive advantage then they are weeding themselves out. Ether they use protection to avoid detection, or they don't and they get caught. That along with free morning after pills for rape victims and you'll see a drastic decline in the people willing to Rape others. Murder is a bit different but if we get to the point where premeditated murder is unheard of, and are left only with crimes of passion then I'll be satisfied with the results. As bad as Rape and Murder is punishing Innocent people is much worse. DNA alone shouldn't convict, but it is a very good start. You're argument of "There's got to be a better way to solve these rapes than asking all of us to give up private information at the threat of arrest." is also a Red Herring. No one in the article was threatened with prison time for not volunteering their DNA. If you're stupid enough to commit a crime, and then submit your DNA voluntarily to be checked against said crime You're a Moron and deserve the Darwin Award. What they were hoping for was a Parent, Child or Grandchild to donate their DNA to help narrow down the list of possible suspects. Their was always the possibility that the suspect was already dead, or not stupid enough to submit his own DNA.
  • Sample Size (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jamu (852752) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:26AM (#42027087)
    I wonder how big the sample size would need to be to get two 100% matches.
    • by Chrisq (894406)
      That depends. If he had an identical twin it would be much smaller than would be needed anyway. There are also more and less usual combinations. Also if he were (for example) the only Native American immigrant within a 5km radius it would probably need a much larger sample than if he was of indigenous ancestry.
    • (in addition to the identical twin comments), the change of collision drastically changes depending of the type of DNA comparison test being performed. Usually this is a function of how many allele's they are testing for.

  • It seems rather unlikely to me that if you committed a crime you would volunteer into giving your DNA in this sort of style. Was it a full match or just based on a few key metrics, which seems the most common form of testing? It could be family of him, for instance.

  • by sideslash (1865434) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:28AM (#42027111)
    We have to be careful treating technology like this as an infallible oracle.

    - Technicians could have made a mistake.
    - Our understanding of the science of genetic matching could be flawed in ways that we haven't come to realize yet.
    - The guy could have had consensual relations with the girl (creepy though that is) and somebody different murdered her.

    It's strange that he volunteered a DNA sample. Hopefully that's just because most criminals are dumb, and not because he's being wrongly accused.
    • And since the sample was found on a lighter in her bag, "consensual relations" here might mean, "Hey, mister, got a light?" "Sure, keep it." He might be guilty of abetting under-age smoking, nothing more.

  • I doubt a court has already given a verdict. An element of proof like DNA (even if it is a very strong one when properly retrieved) is not enough. A tribunal has to review these elements first to exclude errors.
  • The makers guaranteed that the rate of false positives was only one in 8000. :-P

  • Solved? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The_Noid (28819) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:32AM (#42027169) Journal

    Everybody in the Dutch talks as if the man is convicted already. He's not. The case is not solved until a judge has had the last word, and given the inaccuracies in DNA matching I'm very interested in what a judge has to say about this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jiriw (444695)

      Everybody in the Dutch talks as if the man is convicted already.

      Ok .. this is so untrue...

      This is the news article from the major Dutch online newspaper. Put it through Google translate if you don't trust my translations:

      nu.nl [www.nu.nl]

      AMSTERDAM - A suspect has been apprehended in the 'Marianne Vaatstra' case. The Procesution Councel (PC) confirmed it this monday morning.

      ...

      The Justice dept. will not reveal any details for now. The PC and Frysian police force will hold a press conference 18:00 CET in Drachten.

      ...

      The Dutch Forensics Institution (NFI) is currently performing a minute double-check of the identity of the suspect.
      "For both PC and police force it's of major concern we only submit an official statement to the press when it's certain the identity of the suspect is confirmed without question by the NFI."

      ...

      Moreover [the spokeswoman of the PC] emphasizes DNA will 'never be enough', "there always will need to be more evidence".

  • DNA database (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:33AM (#42027185)

    In Sweden we have the PKU-registry. Anyone born after 1975 has a DNA sample taken from them at birth, however it can only be used for your own treatment, identification of remains or research. So far they have kept their part of the promise of not letting it be used for criminal prosecution. Even tho as some would like it to be included in tools available for the police.

  • by McGregorMortis (536146) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:51AM (#42027413)

    I haven't RTFA, but from the summary, this sounds like a textbook example of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosecutor's_fallacy [wikipedia.org], which is a special case of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Base_rate_fallacy [wikipedia.org]

    If you have a suspect in hand, then DNA evidence can be pretty compelling. But when you comb through the population trying to find a suspect using DNA evidence, then you're walking straight into a miscarriage of justice.

    • by photon317 (208409)

      No mod points today, but it sounds like you're right. Deep link to specific example that sounds exactly like this case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosecutor's_fallacy#Multiple_testing [wikipedia.org]

    • by coldfarnorth (799174) on Monday November 19, 2012 @11:16AM (#42027741)

      There are a few more details that make the Prosecutor's Fallacy less applicable to this situation. First, they are looking at a relatively small population, so the odds of two unrelated matches is lower than if you were scanning a database of millions of profiles. Second, they have a pretty complete picture of the population that they are searching, so duplicate matches can be investigated. Third, this is all just evidence at this point - the trial is yet to be carried out. Assuming that a miscarriage of justice is going to occur because large quantities of DNA evidence was used seems a bit harsh for this early in the game.

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