Police in a Canadian town are asking residents to donate blood samples in efforts to crack a murder mystery that’s gone unsolved for more than a month.
Cops in Windsor, Ontario, are preparing to go door-to-door in a sweep that will seek the voluntary extraction of DNA from residents following the December 11 murder of 31-year-old Cassandra Kaake, a pregnant mother whose body was found inside her torched home.
Investigators say they’re going to rely on a technique known as “blooding” to hopefully formulate a list of suspects after weeks of research failed to produce a person of interest.
“They are asking what make of vehicle they drive, what their license plate is, how long they have lived there, whether they rent or own their home and who else lives in the house,” reports The National Post, adding that police’s final question asks if residents would be willing to submit a blood sample at a future time.
Police claim all but a “handful” of the town’s 500 residents have agreed to allow cops to probe their DNA.
“The response has been tremendous. We know the community is very co-operative and they obviously feel the same way we do,” Sergeant Matthew D’Asti told the Post, adding that “The entire community is very empathetic to the victim and her family.”
Civil rights activists, however, argue the warrantless, “guilty until proven innocent” tactic is a gross violation of personal privacy.
“The extraction of a DNA sample without a warrant is concerning. It is inherently coercive,” Executive Director and General Counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Sukanya Pillay, said.
“There is no guarantee that doing wide sweeps of DNA collection is going to produce the killer, but there is a guarantee it will create potential privacy violation and erosion of standards,” Pillay added.
The Post’s report details two other instances in which “blooding” helped Canadian police find a person’s killer, and one in which it failed, outlining a pattern of flagrant civil rights abuse that goes back to a 2003 murder case.
In recent years, Canadian law enforcement have seemingly tested the privacy boundaries, according to The Post:
[I]n 2011, taxi officials in Prince George, B.C., complained of more than 100 cab drivers being pressured by the RCMP to submit DNA samples in the investigation of murdered and missing women along the Highway of Tears.
Last year, the Ontario Provincial Police were criticized for racial profiling in a DNA sweep in a sexual assault case. Dozens of migrant workers were allegedly asked for DNA even though they did not match the description of a suspect other than their dark skin colour.
Police, of course, maintain their latest sweep is necessary and completely innocent.
“We’re not trying to put any type of shadow on democracy or anything like that. We’re simply police officers doing a thorough investigation trying to find a killer,” Sgt. D’Asti contends.
But treating every one like criminals in lieu of competent detective skills will do exactly that. Anyone refusing to give a sample on the basis of standing up for their civil rights instantly becomes a person of interest, and the problem then becomes trying to prove one’s innocence.
Windsor’s proposal to violate personal privacy dovetails with an outrageous incident which took place in Michigan last year, when the entire village of Armada was turned into a checkpoint and every driver was stopped and interrogated, then marked with an “X” before they could proceed.
The planned door-to-door sweep is also reminiscent of American authorities’ Constitution-busting actions following the Boston Marathon bombing, where police decked out in military attire locked down the Watertown suburb forcefully evicting residents from their homes at gunpoint and rummaged through people’s belongings in search of a suspect.