The Champion

April 2007 , Page 52 

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A Nation of Suspects

By Milton Hirsch

Read more Fourth Amendment Forum columns.

The time was 9:05 on September 10, 1984. Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys remembers the moment distinctly. The X-ray films of his tests had just emerged from the machine. “At first the images looked like a complicated mess,” he recalls. “Then the penny dropped. We had found a method of DNA-based biological identification.”1 

The “double helix” discovery of the nature and structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (“DNA”) was made by Watson and Crick at Cambridge in 1953. Sir Alec Jeffrey’s DNA identification technique was first employed in a British deportation proceeding in 1985, and shortly thereafter in a paternity dispute.2 But DNA identification leapt onto the stage of history in “the infamous Enderby murder case.”3 

The case had begun with the murder and rape of Lynda Mann, 15, in 1983 in the Leicestershire village. Dawn Ashworth, 15, died in a copycat killing three years later. Police arrested a man who confessed to the second murder but denied the first. The DNA sh

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