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Sibling DNA Testing Solves 30-Year Rape
and Murder Mystery


Sibling DNA testing is most commonly used to determine whether two individuals share one or both parents and is often employed where illegitimate children and inheritable estates are concerned. However, this type of DNA testing can also be used in various other ways, not least of which is to solve crimes of murder.

Indeed, sibling DNA testing was employed recently in the case of Teresa de Simone, who was murdered in the car park of the Tom Tackle pub (now called The Encore) in Southampton on December 4th 1979. Unfortunately, although sibling DNA testing was ultimately able to determine the true identity of Teresa’s killer, Robert (sometimes known as ‘Sean’) Hodgson was convicted of her murder by unanimous jury in 1982.

Sibling DNA Testing Overturns Conviction

Having spent 27 years behind bars for a murder that he did not commit, Robert Hodgson’s story is every bit as tragic as Teresa de Simone’s, whose young life was brought to a premature end when she was just 22 years old. Furthermore, the advanced techniques of sibling DNA testing highlighted how progress made in science has helped to improve the legal justice system. Indeed, if it were not for the accuracy of sibling DNA testing, Robert Hodgson would no doubt still be serving someone else’s time in prison. At the time of his conviction, police officers were limited in terms of their ability to assess forensic evidence and, in fact, all they had to go on was blood grouping, which cannot identify a specific individual in most cases (unless the blood is abnormal or extremely rare).

Furthermore, the police did not take seriously the claims of one David Lace, who, in 1983, confessed to officers that he was responsible for the rape and murder of Teresa de Simone. Lace committed suicide in December 1988, robbing de Simone’s family of the chance for justice and Robert Hodgson of a further 21 years of freedom. Indeed, sibling DNA testing carried out in August 2009 proved beyond all doubt that Robert Hodgson was not Teresa de Simone’s killer, as semen samples taken from her body were shown to have only a one-in-a-billion chance of not belonging to David Lace.

Sibling DNA Testing Solves Case

Although police officers had already elected to take another look at the Teresa de Simone case, which involved reviewing all statements and evidence including David Lace’s confession, the primary reason to do so was to examine crime scene DNA samples using today’s more advanced methods and technology. Thus, when the the incriminating sample of semen was entered into the DNA database, some 30,000 results were made available for scrutiny. Whilst these results were referenced against evidence held in the case files, DNA testing was able to provide a link between David Lace and his sister, whose DNA information was held in the database.

Following this DNA match, police officers were granted an order to exhume David Lace’s body from Kingston Cemetery. Advanced extraction techniques were then employed to blast bones and teeth with sand or air before samples of DNA could be removed. After this process was completed, a full DNA profile on David Lace was available and, much to the relief of Robert Hodgson, it matched the sample taken from the semen left on de Simone’s clothes. Thus, advanced DNA profiling enabled officers to finally correct one of the worst miscarriages of justice in the history of the English legal system.

DNA Tests Solve Many Other Cases

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