Earlier this month Quebec’s La Presse did an article on law enforcement’s use of genetic genealogy to assist in capturing criminals (if you don’t speak French, run it through a translator). It’s almost a daily occurence now that cold cases in the United States are solved using this technique. And these are old cases – 30 years, 40 years, 50 years. People are begin to question why Quebec has had a cold case unit for almost 20 years now and has yet to solve a crime (Guylaine Potvin does not count, that case hasn’t survived the acid test of a trial).
In the article I noted that Quebec police forces have “”thrown away, misplaced or destroyed” a number of objects containing DNA linked to crime scenes over the years, including murders, which could limit the scope of this technique for many files.”
La Presse continued:
“For example, the Sûreté du Québec in Sherbrooke told me that my sister’s underwear had been destroyed five years after the murder,” he says.
And his case is not isolated, adds Mr. Allore. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’ve spoken to so many families of victims who have been told the same thing. The DNA is no longer there to be analyzed,” says Allore, who also hosts the podcast Who Killed Theresa? which focuses on the unsolved murders in Quebec.
“I’m happy if it can help solve crimes, but I’m not holding my breath,” he said.”
This is nothing new, I’ve been saying it for years. Quebec police are playing poker in the game of genetic genealogy but not holding any cards.
A second article in La Presse quoted the Laboratory of Judicial Sciences and Legal Medicine of Quebec (LSJML) as being “hopeful” of new techniques, but then they hedged their response with an acknowledgement that the science was “quite complex.” The piece then went on to catalogue a host of techniques available in Quebec -genetic genealogy, phenotyping, DNA networks, PatronYme, Rapid DNA – but then failed to mention whether any of them were currently being deployed in the province. By this point, practically everyone is aware of these remedies, what’s important is are you using them! And of course, the elephant in the room, what was missing from this article is any mention of Quebec law enforcement endorsement of these techniques in conjunction with the LSJML. It’s a maddening game of three-card Monte where Quebec law enforcement continues to stall in their shirking accountability dance. But sooner or later the music will stop. And we’re going to know they’re not holding any cards.
To borrow a phrase from a scientist from another discipline who felt like he was chasing windmills, No one’s minding the store. They’re all asleep at the switch.