Monday, 23 September 2013

McCann Case Dog Alerts.

Why an alert to Cadaver scent must be corroborated.

The most vital information in the pre archiving of the Missing Madeleine McCann case, was provided  by the use of EVRD (cadaver scent) and CSI (blood) dogs, Eddie and Keela. They were used as an obligation to investigate if there is proof that Madeleine McCann died in the holiday apartment and if the parents might have been involved, to justify exploring that thesis and ruling the parents out. Vital because the statements from their handler and trainer, Martin Grime along with the conclusions from the FSS (Forensic Science Service) provided the interpretation required, to make sense of the dog alerts. These conclusions highlight that the Inspector in charge of the investigation, misunderstood them. The expert conclusions show that the questions asked to expand the thesis, were not answered. Yet, head of investigation, Goncalo Amaral, considered the results and conclusions as proof positive to build a case against the parents for death and concealment. For me it is clear from the files, where he made the mistake in understanding. From a forensic report preceding a final more expanded report. It is difficult to understand why the final report did not highlight the misunderstanding to Goncalo Amaral, so he could review his interpretation. But it did not and in my opinion, the case took a road where law enforcement all but gave up Madeleine for dead and eroded the search for a living child.

Social media sites find many people who go along with Goncalo Amaral's interpretation. Or often state that a cadaver dog alert means it has found the location of where a body has been. That because they only alerted to items associated with the family, it must be Madeleine.

I hope I can show you why this ignorant interpretation of the alerts is a million miles from the truth.

First lets take a look at the dogs. Eddie and Keela.

Eddie alerts to decomposing human remains. Trained on an actual whole cadaver, therefore he will alert to scent from any decomposing component from human remains. Scent being in the form of volatile organic compounds. This means he is the best tool for finding dead bodies where humans have been unable to locate them, buried or hidden for example. For law enforcement this is an invaluable tool to help solve cases. Eddie can also help the police by locating decomposing body parts with the same skill.

However, there is a risk that alerts can cause confusion and be unhelpful. This can occur if no human remains are found at the point of the alert. In this situation forensics must be used to explore further, the source of the alert. Forensics can corroborate the alerts if human remains not visible to the naked eye, are found. Yes even at this level a superb tool to help police. But, if forensics cannot find human remains then the alerts cannot be corroborated. For an alert where there are no human remains, the dog will have only picked up the scent. This is not helpful to police looking for evidence of a body.

The scent will contaminate items by moving around. Either airborne contamination or by touch and transfer. So you can understand why volatile organic compound contamination cannot answer any question except at some point, location and time, they did emmitt from decomposing human material. This highlights another problem preventing using this level of alerts as evidence.

What exactly is decomposing human material?.  As we know Eddie was trained using a complete decomposing human cadaver, we must understand it is not a body that he smells, it is the scent of decomposing material emitting from it. That smell is also emitted for decomposing human remains expelled from a living human. Yes, an alive human being. We can discriminate the source of the scent using a dog trained for finding other human material. Eddie's Partner, Keela, is trained to find blood. Keela finds blood associated material from a live person or decomposing blood as well, from living or dead people. So both dogs are used to confirm if Eddie is alerting to blood or other decomposing material. Confirmation if they both alert to the same location. Blood is not the only decomposing remains that can be emitted from a living person. There are many others. But as far as I know there are no dogs trained to discriminate human material, apart from the blood dog. So, apart from blood, we do not know if Eddie is alerting to material from a living person or dead person. We can conclude that without finding actual human remains, from a forensic level to a visible to the human eye level, the cadaver alerts prove nothing as they cannot be corroborated.

Find out from the experts!!

In the case of Madeleine McCann we have confirmation of my above article. This is where I sourced my information and knowledge.

Martin Grime, dog trainer and handler, invited to bring his dogs, Eddie and Keela, to Portugal and use them to help the investigation.

From the file, his conclusion.


The odour target of cadaver is scientifically explained through 'volatile organic
compounds' that in a certain configuration are received by the dog as a
receptor. Recognition then gives a conditioned response 'ALERT'. Despite
considerable research and analytical investigation the compounds cannot as
yet be replicated in laboratory processes. Therefore the 'alert' by dogs without
a tangible source cannot be forensically proven at this time. Cadaver scent
cannot readily be removed by cleaning as the compounds adhere to surfaces.
The scent can be 'masked' by bleach and other strong smelling odours but
the dog's olfactory system is able to isolate the odours and identify specific
compounds' and mixes. Cadaver scent contamination may be transferred in
numerous scenarios. Any contact with a cadaver which is then passed to any
other material may be recognised by the dog causing a 'trigger' indication.

From Martin Grime summary.

The dogs only alerted to property associated with the McCann family. The dog 
alert indications MUST be corroborated if to establish their findings as 

Therefore in this particular case, as no human remains were located, the only 
alert indications that may become corroborated are those that the CSI dog 
indicated by forensic laboratory analysis. 

My professional opinion as regards to the EVRD's alert indications is that it is 
suggestive that this is 'cadaver scent' contaminant. This does not however 
suggest a motive or suspect as cross contamination could be as a result of a 
number of given scenarios and in any event no evidential or intelligence 
reliability can be made from these alerts unless they can be confirmed with 
corroborating evidence.

Ok, so how did Goncalo Amaral interpret that forensics did corroborate the evidence?

It was a simple misunderstanding. An initial report came through from FSS stating that, in relevant areas, A near perfect DNA match was found, 15 out of 19 markers matched Madeleine.That was that, enough to prosecute. But that wasn't that. The final report from FSS explained that 15 individual markers out of 37 matched 15 in the profile of Madeleine's unique string of 19. With several people contributing to the 37 and some or all sharing those 15 individual markers with Madeleine. This could not corroborate cadaver alerts at all, the DNA was too diluted and contaminated, if you like.

DNA results

A complex LCN DNA result which appeared to have originated from at least three people was obtained from cellular material recovered from the luggage compartment section 286C 2007 CRL10 (2) area 2. Within the DNA profile of Madeline McCann there are 20 DNA components represented by 19 peaks on a chart. At one of the areas of DNA we routinely examine Madeleine has inherited the same DNA component from both parents; this appears therefore as 1 peak rather than 2, hence 19 rather than 20. Of these 19 components 15 are present within the result from this item; there are 37 components in total. There are 37 components because there are at least 3 contributors; but there could be up to five contributors. In my opinion therefore this result is too complex for meaningful interpretation/inclusion.

What questions will we never be able to answer with LCN DNA profiling - 

When was the DNA deposited -  
How was the DNA deposited -  
What body fluid(s) does the DNA originate from -  
Was a crime committed -

Questions that can be answered.

So we can conclude, in the case of missing Madeleine McCann, alerts by EVRD dog could not be corroborated as there were no human remains found. DNA in associated areas could not isolate Madeleine McCann to corroborate even at that level. 

Alerts specific to the hire vehicle, where Goncalo Amaral believes the body had been transported? Both dogs alerted to scent emitting from inside the car. The Cadaver dog alerted from scent coming through the door seal. The blood dog was sent in and alerted, so corroborating bothe alerts were to blood. Further to that, a key fob in the car was alerted too and found to have blood from Gerry McCann on it. Corroborating alert from a living person. The blood dog also alerted to the boot area, but that could not be corroborated. The vehicle was not used to transport a dead body.

Does Alerting only to McCann associated items prove anything? No, and all the above explains categorically why.

The here and now.

At this time, the current investigation following the review of the case by New Scotland Yard and the PJ, have ruled the family and friends completely out of involvement. However, despite the speculation, the parents had been officially removed from suspicion prior to case archiving by the Prosecutor.

a) The archiving of the Process concerning arguido Robert James Queriol Eveleigh Murat, because there are no indications of the practise of any crime under the dispositions of article 277 number 1 of the Penal Process Code;

b) The archiving of the Process concerning Arguidos Gerald Patrick McCann and Kate Marie Healy, because there are no indications of the practise of any crime under the dispositions of article 277 number 1 of the Penal Process Code.

Speculation in the social arena does not substitute facts. Unfortunately, more and more people source information from books, media and social networks. Not from the files. Unfortunate for the hope for Madeleine McCann and the reputation of her family.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.