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10 Intriguing Criminal Cases that Were Solved in Unexpected Ways

criminal cases solved in unexpected ways

Our world is filled with innumerable unresolved cases. Due to a lack of concrete evidence, every year, hundreds of suspects are acquitted. Despite the immense dedication and hard work, the police force is left with no choice but to close the case. However, there are many cases that were solved in the most unpredictable manner. The police disentangled some cases by utilizing modernized technology and science. For the rest, it was just a matter of pure luck. Here we present to you 10 such intriguing criminal cases that were solved in unexpected ways.

1. A pedophile was arrested by “unswirling” his digital image.

Christopher Neil
Image source: Interpol via cbc.ca

Christopher Neil was regularly posting photos of himself on social media platforms. Nothing weird, right? Shockingly, in those images, he was sexually abusing young boys. He posted more than two hundred such photos.

Shortly, someone alerted the police, and they began the manhunt. However, to protect his identity, he had digitally altered all his photos, making it impossible for anyone to recognize him. With the help of German computer scientists and Photoshop techniques, the police “unswirled” his face. The police posted his photo on their website.

A family member recognized him, and he was arrested in Thailand in 2008. He spent five years in a Thailand jail for his sexual offenses. After the completion of that sentence, he was deported to Canada. In 2013, Vancouver police found child pornography on his laptop. The court sentenced him to five and a half more years in prison. (1, 2)

2. A cat’s DNA identified the killer.

David Hilder
Image sources: BBC, NIH file

The police found a brutally dismembered body on a beach in Hampshire. Some parts of the body were covered with a curtain. The investigation team found eight strands of cat’s hair on the curtain. They sent it to a forensic lab for DNA analysis. David Hilder was one of the key suspects. In the results, his cat’s DNA matched with the DNA of the cat’s hair discovered on the curtain. Interestingly, the trial was still not over.

The team needed to prove that such a DNA match is rare in two cats. They contacted a forensic team and conducted tests on 152 British cats. When DNA samples of only three cats matched, it proved that such a situation is uncommon. Finally, the police took David Hilder into custody, and he was eventually found guilty in court. (1, 2)

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3. Playing cards solved the dead-end case.

Susan Schwarz
Image source: snohomishcountywa.gov

The police found Susan dead with her hands tied behind her back at her Lynnwood home in 1979. There was also a gunshot wound to the back of her head. While the police had a suspect, Greg D. Johnson, there was no physical evidence. Greg was the estranged husband of Susan’s best friend. The case remained unsolved.

The US police introduced the playing cards in 2008. On those playing cards, stories of victims, along with their photos, were printed. The police circulated those cards among prison inmates. They had hope that the inmates might be able to give some information about these open cases. On one of the cards,  they printed Susan’s photo and her story.

An inmate reported a tip to the police that led them to the suspect’s former girlfriend. She confessed that she was at the murder scene, and Greg killed Susan. Later, she became a witness against Greg. In 2012, The court sentenced Greg to 24 years in prison. (1, 2)

4. Pollen helped police to crack a murder case.

Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman
Pollen helped police to crack a murder case.

Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, two young teenage girls, left their home on the 4th of August 2002. They never came back home. After a few days, the police found their burnt bodies. Ian Huntley, a local resident, was the last person who saw the girls, and therefore became the key suspect.

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The police approached the forensic botanist Patricia Wiltshire for assistance. They found the bodies in a ditch. Patricia assessed the area and saw new side shoots on a section of stinging nettles. This means that those stinging nettles were trampled on, and now, there was a recovery growth.

They reconstructed the death scene and figured out that the murder happened almost 13 days ago. Next, they tested the samples of pollen collected from Ian’s clothes and car. It matched the type of pollen found in the ditch. After submission of the evidence in the court, Ian Huntley pleaded guilty. (1, 2)

5. Handwriting notes on a billboard led police to the murderer.

Oba Chandler
Image source: crimemagazine.com

In a heinous crime, the police discovered three female bodies floating in a lake. The killer had tied their hands and gagged their mouth with duct tape. All three of them were raped. After a lot of investigation, the police had two pieces of evidence; the killer’s handwritten note and his fingerprints. The writing style was quite unique.

Police had a fear that the murderer was a serial killer and might commit his next crime soon. Therefore, they decided to make the handwriting samples public via billboards. They put those billboards all over the area and waited patiently. Soon, the police received some leads. The police identified the killer, Oba Chandler, and arrested him. (1, 2)

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