Dog’s DNA Swab Catches His Killer

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1.18.13 DNA
David Stoddard


Police in Barberton, Ohio have identified a criminal after they swabbed the mouth of a dog killed in a home invasion and robbery.

On October 6th, three masked men broke into the home of a woman and her son.  They fired shots and robbed the pair.  The family dog, a pit bull mix, attacked one of the intruders, biting his left arm.  The dog was shot and killed.

The family told police that the dog bit one of the men.  Officer Chris Mitchell helped process the scene, and swabbed four areas of the dog’s mouth.

“Before I did it, I actually got on my laptop in my cruiser and looked it up because I never heard of it being done before and I didn’t know if there was any precedent for it,” Mitchell said.

Two months later, policed were notified by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification in Richfield that human DNA was discovered, and it matched 24-year-old David Stoddard.  Police were amazed – this dog’s DNA swab had cracked the case!

“We were surprised that it worked, really,” Lt. Brian Jamison said.  “We had no other evidence in the case, basically.  It was at a dead end.”

Police tried to track Stoddard down at his home, but were unable to do so.  They contacted John Sinn, Stoddard’s attorney.

“His attorney wanted to make an appointment to turn him in and we would charge him at that time,” Jamison said.

But before Stoddard was turned in, he killed again.  This time, he broke into an Akron home where he shot and killed 16-year-old Anna Karam, who was four months pregnant at the time.  Nineteen-year-old Jessica Halman was also shot, but has since been released from the hospital.

Jamison said that an arrest warrant was not issued for Stoddard because police were hopeful that he would cooperate, turn himself in and name the other two intruders.

“Of course, we’re wishing that we could have gotten Mr. Stoddard before that incident (the murder) happened,” Jamison said.  “No one had any idea what Mr. Stoddard’s thought process was at that time.”

“I think they were really going about it smart in the sense that they didn’t want to arrest him before they had a chance to get a statement from him,” Sinn said.

In addition, Sinn said his client has no “recollection of those events.”  This does not likely provide any consolation to Karam’s loved ones.