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DNA samples to help resolve murder of 6 week-old baby

Government Chemist working with DCI to resolve the murder. Photo/SAM WANJOHI.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 30 – She couldn’t fight or scream, there was no one to defend her or cameras to capture the perpetrator who committed the monstrous action against her.

Jane (Not her real name) was only 6 weeks old, when she was raped, sodomized and later murdered-not so long ago.

Just who did it? What prompted their actions?

These are some of the question’s detectives hope to get answers for, if Jane will rest in peace, justice having prevailed.

Detectives and Jane’s family have pegged their hope on the vaginal fluids (High Vagina Swab) retrieved from her lifeless body to place the main suspect at the scene of crime.

It is up to them, to prove beyond reasonable doubt, that the suspect did it.

With the fluids, they will match with the DNA samples retrieved from the suspect.

Her samples were taken to the Government Chemist laboratory on Wednesday.

“Every action (crime) has a trace,” Pamela Okello, a Crime Laboratory Analyst at the Government Chemist told Capital News on Thursday.

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It is on that ground, she expressed optimism, of the team unraveling who was responsible for Jane’s murder and defilement.

In this case, she said, there are no other exhibits.

It is all in a day’s work inside Nairobi’s Government Chemist, where all manner of cases are taken.

The forensic journey, as explained by professionals start with samples/exhibits preparation, followed by DNA qualification and thereafter, DNA analysis.

According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the qualification process consists of the quantification of double-strand DNA (dsDNA) and the assessment of its suitability for downstream applications, such as high-throughput next-generation sequencing.

It is a case that comes at a time when the Government Chemist has acquired a state-of-the-art 3500XL Genetic Analyzer.

How will it help in the pursuit of justice?

The equipment offers a shorter average run time of about 45 minutes.

As a result, it can expeditiously analyze several DNA samples on evidential material collected from crime scenes.

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“It means, we can clear a very good number of cases than we used to,” Government Chemist Ali Gakwele said during the launch of the machine on Thursday.

To help resolve some of the cases like that of baby Jane, he said, in partnership with their counterparts in the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), they plan to have a DNA data bank.

With a DNA data bank, he explained that “whenever there is bloodstain or any human fluid in a crime scene, that can be captured and be run in our genetic analyzers, it will be easily flagged out.”

This means serial criminals will be easily caught, he said.

The new genetic analyzer has an enhanced throughput, which means faster data generation with 24 capillary arrays compared to 16 in the previous equipment enabling it to process 24 samples at a time, hence shorter run times.

It is also customized with an ultramodern system of components and software that maximizes information recovery even from degraded DNA samples.

“This will ultimately expedite access to justice through quick conviction of criminals and, equally important, exoneration of innocent individuals,” the Government Chemist said.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi said the Government plans to ensure all Government chemists are properly equipped.

“We have been trying to find the best solution to our challenges in the criminal investigation. It is no secret that we have some fairly sensitive but unresolved murder cases in our country and the acquisition of this machine is one of the first steps towards the achievement of our objectives in this field,” the CS said.

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“We will invest more resources in acquiring more sophisticated equipment here at the headquarters as well as the Kisumu and Mombasa branches.”

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