How a microbe helped police solve a murder

May 17, 2017 12:51 am | Updated 08:04 am IST - Bengaluru

Photo for representational purpose only.

Photo for representational purpose only.

Can microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria lead to the arrest of a criminal?

A microbe found at the scene of crime by the Forensic Science Laboratory team in the city went a long way in helping the police crack the murder of a 57-year-old woman. The FSL’s chemical analysis of the mircrobes found in the victim’s bedroom pointed the police in the right direction, and helped them profile the accused.

On the night of April 4, the victim, Mani, was murdered in her bedroom while her son was sleeping in the adjacent room at their house in Jayanagar. The assailant had bolted the son’s bedroom door and fled with all the valuables he could get his hands on.

Initially, the Tilaknagar police thought it was a property-related crime, one they could solve easily. But as days passed, they were unable to find any leads.

Meanwhile, the FSL experts, who had also visited the crime scene, were busy combing through all the evidence they had gathered.

“Their analysis of the microbes revealed a combination of bacteria and fungus, which they said was usually common among people who handled waste,” said DCP southeast division, Boralingaiah.

This small clue was at odds with the investigative team’s theory, but they followed up on it, and started surveying CCTV footage in the area of people who could possibly fit the profile — garbage collectors, rag-pickers, etc. “It was then that we noticed one person’s movements were very suspicious. It was a 19-year-old ragpicker, Chappar Ganesh. A chemical analysis of the microbes was a match.”

As there is a margin of error, and the probability of other people having a similar match, the evidence was circumstantial at best. But it was a strong lead, said the police who started gathering evidence.

After detailed questioning, Ganesh confessed to the crime and also led the police to two of his associates. According to the police, Ganesh was an alcoholic addicted to inhaling whitener. He would move around the area and mark relatively isolated houses that were easy to break into.

Mani’s house was one of them. Ganesh also told the police that Shaktivelu, owner of a junk shop, was the one who instigated him to steal and sell the booty to him. The police have arrested Shaktivelu and another associate, Chinnaraju, who introduced Ganesh to Shaktivelu, and helped him dispose of the valuables.

The police have taken the accused into custody and are investigating further.

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