He carefully removed the blood-covered bracelet. The three bracelets held a secret and he needed to solve the riddle.
Through the dried blood under the protective plastic, he could make out the word “Jako”. He knew he had to hand the evidence over to the authorities, but he realised that it was beneficial to him to hold on to it for as long as he dared.
He’d informed the defending counsel, Mr Olivier, of James Roderick, of his acquisition, which would be a vital piece of evidence.
But whose blood was on the bracelet that the black man had delivered to his office a few days ago?
He was stumped. What would the DNA show? Is the person a male or female?
Once Dianne had made arrangements to test the sample at Pretoria Hospital, he organised to send it to be processed. Taking care to avoid interfering with the stain, he got Dianne to mail it by registered post.
He phoned for updates. After a few weeks, the results were available.
He called Mr Olivier, the advocate. “Walter, I’ve got something that you’ll be very interested in.”
“What’s that?” Olivier asked.
“A bracelet that has blood smeared on it. But, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Or not...” The lawyer and the advocate shared a laugh. “It’s not the accused, Jako Retief’s, but somebody else’s. It’s a male’s.”
Stuart went on: “May I tell you more about DNA? Do you have the time?”
“You might have heard about it. DNA profiling was first used in the UK last year. A schoolgirl, Dawn Ashworth, was brutally raped and murdered in some village.”
“Go on,” Walter prompted.
“Linda Mann had died before Dawn Ahworth, in a village three years earlier. A local youth, Richard Buckland, had admitted to Dawn’s killing but there was no evidence to support his claim. The police couldn’t prove he was the murderer.”
“Desperate for help, they approached geneticist Sir Alec Jeffreys. Working out of Leicester University, he had recently discovered that every person has a so-called DNA ‘fingerprint’ that’s unique to them. The police hoped this system would help prove that their chief suspect, Buckland, was guilty.”
“Using semen left on the girls’ bodies, Sir Alec ran a test against blood samples taken from Buckland. They proved that both girls had been killed by the same man - but that that man could not have been Richard Buckland.”
“Richard Buckland became the first person to be exonerated using DNA profiling. The police realised that to catch their killer, they’d have to cast their net far wider.”
“Yes, you’ve got me listening...” Walter said.
“They undertook the world’s first DNA screening programme. Five thousand men gave blood and saliva samples. It was a test that changed forensic science forever.”
“Within a year, despite an attempt to evade screening, Colin Pitchfork, a local baker, was convicted of both murders and sentenced to life in prison.”
“That’s the full story?” Walter asked.
“That’s all. You’ve got to admit, it’s an intriguing story,” Stuart replied.
Walter said: “This is going to have an huge impact on many cases.”
“Sure.” At the back of Stuart’s mind, he was worried about Christmas, whom he’d never met.
Stuart, or Mike, went to the prison to see Jako. He explained to him: “Some new evidence has come to light. It’s a DNA test. It shows that neither you nor Chris committed the murder. It was somebody else. We know it’s a man.”
Jako looked relieved. “Oh, thank God for that. I didn’t believe Chris murdered Madelaine.”
Mike continued: “With extraordinary luck, we’ll find the accused.” DNA should be the first thing any detective thinks about, he reminded himself.
Mike went on: “I’m looking forward to my first meeting with Chris. I am seeing him after this. But first, we need to plan a strategy for the case,” he reasoned.