Criminal Foiled By Discarded Water Bottle

I came across the below story yesterday when reading about interesting cases in the quarterly Forensic DNAResource Report. It caught my eye not because I think catching a petty thief in the USA is a particularly serious offence – but because at the scene of my father’s murder in Johannesburg, SA,  the perpetrators who shot my dad just prior to breaking into our family home, had been drinking brandy and coke in the garden out of an old coke bottle. This bottle, which contained valuable DNA evidence as to who was present at the crime scene when my father was killed, was later discarded by the police. When I asked why they had done that, they said to me that ‘we do not have the technology in this country to uplift DNA evidence from the bottle’. This is not only untrue, but illustrates the tragedy of destroying valuable evidence from a crime scene which could ultimately have convicted the people who murdered my father. There was only one chance to collect and preserve that evidence, and it was lost. Forever. We can never go back – and as such, that crucial link to my father’s killers, lost with it.

This is why I am so passionate about creating crime scene awareness in South Africa. We need to all become forensically aware and prevent this type of thing from happening over and over again. The rationale behind this objective is that without the proper preservation and collection of valuable DNA and other forensic evidence left at a crime scene, the opportunity to link the perpetrator to the crime committed, will be lost.

Don’t let it happen. Ask us how you can be part of the solution. If you or your community/group/workforce are interested in receiving DNA Awareness training or know of any group who would benefit from this information, please contact us via and she will send you the necessary information.

Here is the story:

Police: Year-old Boca Grande burglary solved

July 28, 2011

Charlotte County Sheriff’s detectives say they have solved a year-old case thanks to a DNA match of the burglar who left behind a bottle of water.

A home in Boca Grande on the Charlotte County side was burgled in June 2010. Police say the burglar entered through a second-story window and stole televisions, three dirt bikes and a Volkswagen Euro Van. The van was recovered in Sarasota County but the three dirt bikes were not recovered.

Crime scene technicians located fingerprints and found a bottle of water in the home. On July 13, police say the water bottle tested positive for Eric William Griffith, whose details were already on the database.

Detectives arrested Griffith at his home Tuesday and charged him with burglary, grand theft motor vehicle and grand theft.

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