Mystery of phantom killer solved

I read an interesting article in the New York Post this past Friday about a phantom female serial killer who apparently killed, mugged and burgled across Germany, France and Austria for 15 years, leaving her DNA at 40 crime scenes. Detectives had been on trail on the phantom since 2001. 1

At one point, a $400,000 bounty was placed on the head of the elusive and unusual criminal.

Last April, forensic science experts in Stuttgart began analyzing hundreds of unused cotton swabs in response to fears that the DNA came from a source of contamination rather than an actual perpetrator.

“On March 26, German police revealed that the cotton swabs they use may have all been contaminated by the same worker at a factory in Austria — and that the Phantom of Heilbronn never existed.” 2

Science is a wonderful tool, but it should only be a complement in investigative work. Science is carried out by scientists who are, after all, human.


1 New York Post, Friday, March 27, 2009, page 8.



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