Touch DNA in a Complicated Alleged Child Abuse Case

Heather Miller Coyle, University of New Haven

Re-posted from the web site of Austin Journal of Forensic Science and Criminology.


Touch DNA can be of use in establishing what may have occurred through reconstruction of events based on biological evidence transfer. However, interpretation of results and patterns must be approached with some caution as in the alleged child abuse case detailed here. This case was brought forward as a touch DNA and body fluid case where the male in question was a father reported to have forced a young child to perform oral sex on him. Her pajamas were collected and evaluated for presence of body fluids and associated DNA. The sleeves of the pajamas tested positive for amylase, a potential indicator of saliva and DNA of both victim and father combined. Initially, it was thought that this would be clear evidence to bring forth to trial; however, as the remaining stains were tested on the pajamas, reconstruction of events became substantially altered. Up to six family members DNA profiles were recovered off the child’s garments and also a semen stain from a half-brother.