Loading articles...

'Blooding:' A look at how police have used DNA sweeps in Canadian criminal cases

Last Updated Feb 9, 2016 at 1:11 pm PDT

(File Photo)

VANCOUVER – It’s called a “DNA sweep” or “blooding” — police ask a group of people to voluntarily provide samples of their DNA in order to crack an unsolved crime. Here are some cases involving the technique in Canada:

Teresa Robinson

The 11-year-old girl was last seen leaving a birthday party on the Garden Hill First Nation, a remote, fly-in community in northern Manitoba, in May 2015. Her remains were found six days later and it was believed she had been mauled by a bear. RCMP later ruled her death a homicide and said it was likely animals had disturbed her remains. Investigators recently asked all males in the community — about 2,000 of them — to volunteer their DNA.

Cassandra Kaake

The 31-year-old woman, seven months pregnant, was found slain in her home in Windsor, Ont., after firefighters put out a blaze in December 2014. A month later, police asked her friends, family, co-workers and neighbours to submit DNA samples. Police said about 500 people agreed but only a few samples were collected. They said information gathered during a canvass of the area led them to a suspect. Matthew Brush, 26, faces several charges, including first-degree murder.

Holly Jones

The 10-year-old girl disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house in Toronto in May 2013. Her body parts were later found in bags floating in Lake Ontario. Police canvassed about 300 homes in her neighbourhood and asked men to provide DNA. One man who refused, Michael Briere, was arrested after police got his DNA off a pop can he threw in a public garbage. Briere confessed to police that he sexually assaulted and strangled Holly before dismembering her body. He later pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

Sonia Varaschin

The 42-year-old nurse from Orangeville, Ont., had been missing for a week when her body was found in a wooded area outside the community in September 2010. Blood splatter was also discovered in her apartment and abandoned car. Two years later, police said they had collected about 600 DNA samples from men in the area. No arrests have been made.

Kayla John

The 13-year-old’s partially clothed body was found in a wooded area near her mobile home in the small community of Zeballos on the west coast of Vancouver Island in April 2004. She had been beaten, stabbed, strangled and raped. RCMP asked a dozen young men who knew Kayla or were known to be out the night she disappeared to volunteer their DNA. A match led to George Osmond, who was later convicted of first-degree murder. He appealed but the court ruled that he voluntarily gave the sample and his rights were not violated.