Mass DNA Collection Started Over Cape Cod Murder


In a last-ditch move to solve the three-year-old killing of a freelance writer, investigators are asking for DNA samples from all 790 male residents of Truro, Ma., on Cape Cod, the New York Times reports. Police began collecting the samples last week, visiting delicatessens, the post office, and even the town dump to politely ask men to cooperate. The sweeping approach had been used only in limited instances before in the U.S., although it is more widely used in Europe. Sgt. David Perry of the Truro Police Department says the program is voluntary but that they will pay close attention to those who refuse to provide DNA. “We’re trying to find that person who has something to hide,” he said.

It was the most notorious local killing in memory. Christa Worthington, 46, was found stabbed to death in her bungalow here on Jan. 6, 2002, her 2-year-old daughter, Ava, clinging to her body. Semen was found on the body, and in the last three years the police have investigated and ruled out an ex-boyfriend and other men, including a married man who is Ava’s father. The FBI said it thought the killer had Truro ties and suggested trying to match the semen in a global genetic canvass. Many residents have cooperated, but sme have complained. “I think it’s outrageous,” said Dick Seed, 44, a sign painter who called the American Civil Liberties Union to complain. Mass DNA collection has yielded results in criminal investigations in England and Germany. In this country, the technique has been tried in a few places, with less success.


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