Case 2: The butcher brother

Li Wei’s bloodied body has been discovered in his flat, along with a meat cleaver, which appears to be the weapon used in the attack. Detective Jess sends the meat cleaver to the ESR laboratory for analysis, along with a sample of Li Wei’s blood.  ESR scientists find DNA on the meat cleaver that does not belong to Li Wei. The scientists compare the DNA profile from the meat cleaver to the profiles on the National DNA Profile Databank and the Temporary Databank. However, there is no match.

Detective Jess follows all possible leads and appeals for witnesses, but draws a blank. With nothing else to go on, Detective Jess asks ESR to search the DNA Databanks for any profiles that are a close match to the one from the meat cleaver. If there is a person on one of the Databanks whose DNA profile is a close match, the offender might be related to that person. Police can use this information as a lead to investigate family members of that person.  This is known as familial searching.

At the top of ESR’s list of close matches is Hemi. This means that the offender might be a member of Hemi’s family. Detective Jess finds out Hemi has a brother, George, who is a butcher. George was in Pohewa for a family reunion around the time the killing took place. Detective Jess decides to investigate George further.

Do you think Police should be able to carry out familial searching (i.e. using the Databanks to identify close matches/ family members of people on the Databanks who they then investigate?)

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