Feeds

Serial killer may have been conjured by DNA blunder

Contamination suspected in 'Phantom' case

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A 16-year hunt for a mysterious female serial killer by German police has seemingly ended in farce, as officials admitted they now believe a trail of DNA from 40 crime scenes could have been left by contaminated swabs.

In 2007 authorities put up a €300,000 reward for information about the so-called "Phantom of Heilbronn", after she was suspected of the murder of a policewoman. They had failed to come close to identifying the woman, despite an alleged killing and burglary spree which stretched back to 1993, and a major investigation that began in 2001.

But now it's suspected that contamination at the plant manufacturing the DNA swabs created a false trail, meaning up to six murderers could still be at large in Germany and Austria.

Police puzzled over the Phantom's apparent taste for both violent murder and minor theft from sheds, her wide travels and the failure of witnesses at crime scenes to provide coherent descriptions of the killer. A photofit released last year, based on a witness description, had male features, prompting press speculation the Phantom could be a transsexual.

Serious doubts about her existence were raised when her supposed DNA fingerprint was found during tests on the burnt body of a male asylum seeker in France, The Times reports. "Obviously that was impossible, as the asylum-seeker was a man and the Phantom's DNA belonged to a woman," a spokesman for the prosecutor's office in Saarbrücken, west Germany, said.

Federal investigators are now attempting to confirm whether contamination created the Phantom. It's reported that DNA samples have been taken from female staff at a medical supplies company. "If the trace does belong to a woman working in the factory, it'll be very embarrassing," the BBC reports a police union offical saying. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.