A Canadian man was convicted of murdering a woman after hairs on a bloodstained jacket were genetically matched to his parents' cat. The man lived with his parents and Snowball, a white American shorthair. The case, reported in the April 24 issue of the journal Nature, is one of the few times that nonhuman DNA has been used in a murder trial.
The murdered woman disappeared from her home on Prince Edward Island in 1994. Her body was found in a shallow grave a few months later, and police suspected her former common-law husband. By then, the brown leather jacket had been discovered, stuffed in a plastic bag and left in the woods. The cat hairs were found in the lining. Police sent a blood sample from Snowball and hair from the jacket to Stephen J. O'Brien of the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Md. O'Brien and colleagues found that DNA from the two specimens was identical.