Join author Shayne Morrow for the launch of his new book about two groundbreaking murder investigations that changed the course of forensic DNA history in Canada.
The Bulldog and the Helix: DNA and the Pursuit of Justice in a Frontier Town is the first book to be written about two tragic child murders that occurred in Port Alberni, BC, in 1977 and 1996 and the dedicated team of investigators who solved both cases through the use of early forensic DNA technologies.
The abduction and murder of 12-year-old Carolyn Lee in 1977 was the first cold case in Canada to go to trial based on historic DNA evidence, leading to the conviction of Gurmit Singh Dhillon in 1998.
The investigation into the brutal slaying of eleven-year-old Jessica States in 1996 marked the first successful use in Canada of DNA “blooding” (the technique of taking voluntary mass DNA samples from individuals known to have been near the crime scene). The experiment led to the conviction of Roderick Patten in 2001.
Both cases highlight the efforts of RCMP Corporal Dan Smith and other E Division investigators and analysts to push the boundaries of DNA evidence collection while awaiting the passage of federal laws that would allow its admissibility in court.
As a reporter for the Alberni Valley Times in the 1990s and 2000s, Shayne Morrow attended both trials and kept meticulous records of the proceedings. He vowed to one day bring the story of the investigative team’s pioneering contributions into public view.
This is his story.