Animals

10 Pets That Put Killers Behind Bars

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We all know dogs have an amazing sense of smell. Our best friends bring us all sorts of stinky surprises. It’s often the neighbors’ trash or a stray shoe, but on rare occasion it can be bones —sometimes even human bones. Dogs also track down the bad guys for us. Only a few short years ago, bloodhounds were the only animals to have their evidence ruled admissible in court. Animal forensics is a relatively new practice, but DNA matches of animal blood, hair, saliva, and excrement have already helped solve homicides. Canine urine has also played a pivotal role in solving a sexual assault case. Cats, birds, and deer, too, have all helped us to put the bad guys behind bars. Enjoy the following slideshow of 10 pets that put killers behind bars!

10. Killer Traced With His Own Dogs

akita pups

Four years after the body of Shantay Huntington was found, the identity of the young woman’s killer was finally discovered. The 18-year-old woman had died of asphyxiation in May 2006. Her body, wrapped in a bed sheet and shower curtain, bound with duct tape, was discovered in a wooded area of Loxahatchee, Florida. She was miles away from Miami, where she had last been seen alive. The high school dropout from Colorado had lived in Florida for less than six months at the time of her death.

Huntington’s known male companion was cleared of any wrongdoing, but that was where the case stuck. Three years later, the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory Forensic Unit at the University of California performed DNA tests on dog hairs retrieved from the bed sheet. The hair proved to contain enough DNA for a profile. Testing suggested that the hairs came from a full sibling of dogs owned by Liliana Toledo. The wooded area where the body was discovered was directly across the street from the Toledo home.

When questioned by investigators, Toledo’s answers turned their attention to Guillermo Romero, her estranged former brother-in-law. Toledo’s sister had a restraining order against Romero at the time of the questioning, but he had two Akita pups from a litter of Toledo’s dogs. A DNA sample from Romero also proved to match human DNA on the shower curtain and duct tape Huntington’s body had been wrapped in. It was the matching evidence of dog DNA as well as human DNA obtained at the murder scene that led to a charge of first-degree murder against Romero. In 2013, Romero pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

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