Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder by the Book: The Murder of Karyn Slover

The Final Link

While doing a search of the Slover house, Detective Mike Mannix spotted their dogs, and remembering the dog hair on the duct tape, he got brushes to return and groom them for samples of their fur. By coincidence, a detective in another state was now examining evidence from a dog to try to close a murder, the first criminal case using DNA analysis of a dog.

In Seattle, Detective Kevin O'Keefe was investigating the murder of a couple who had been shot along with their dog. O'Keefe had identified two suspects, and he suspected that blood on the clothing of one of them had come from the dog. He called Dr. Joy Halverson, a veterinary geneticist who verified pedigrees for the American Kennel Club. She was senior scientist and president of Questgen Forensics in Davis, Calif. He hoped she could run a DNA test that would definitely match the blood to the dog. She agreed to try, and with her analysis the case was solved. Although the analysis itself was ultimately thrown out during the appeals process, both suspects were convicted. Thanks to this incident and quick-thinking by Detective Mannix, investigators in the Karyn Slover case now had someone to call.

Joy Halverson
Joy Halverson

Dr. Halverson agreed to test hair follicles removed from the duct tape used on the bags that contained Karyn's head, comparing the results to those from hairs from the dog brushes. She found few she could use, because the officer collecting the samples from the dogs had not understood the need for skin tags, but finally she managed to find a usable one. The tests revealed a match. At least one of the dogs in the Slover home, she said, was the source for dog hair on the duct tape.

This collection of evidence and experts was now sufficient to take to the prosecutor's office. For the task force, there was no question that the Slovers were responsible for this atrocious crime, but they could not predict what a jury might say, especially since they had three suspects but did not know who had pulled the trigger or who had dismembered the body. They also did not have a murder weapon or dismemberment instrument. Yet they were confident they could prove that it had all taken place at Miracle Motors, and that the three suspects all had to have been involved to make it all happen, including staging the car in another part of town. For Karyn and her son, police and prosecutors were determined to give the case their best shot.

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