Forensic Files 1.4 - "The Footpath Murders"

The Footpath Murders

Air date: 10/23/1996
Chronology: season 1, episode 4

Victim: Lynda Rosemarie Mann || Dawn Amanda Ashworth

Date of death: 11/21/1983 || 07/31/1986

Cause of death: Ligature strangulation || Ligature strangulation

Location: Leicestershire, England, UK

Perpetrator: Colin Pitchfork

The crime: As she walked along a footpath at night, Lynda Mann was strangled to death and then raped. Her body was discovered the next morning by a passerby. Her death went unsolved for three years until Dawn Ashworth was raped and then strangled to death on her walk home from school. Richard Buckland, an employee of the local psychiatric hospital, was coerced into a confession for Dawn's murder but denied having killed Lynda. Newly developed DNA tests proved Buckland was not the assailant who had assaulted and presumably murdered both girls. Although a DNA dragnet had not located the suspect, an overheard conversation identified Colin Pitchfork as a person of interest who had purposely dodged the testing. Upon questioning, Pitchfork confessed to both crimes, corroborated by DNA testing.

Techniques: Restriction fragment length polymorphism

Professionals: Dr. Alec Jeffreys (geneticist), David Baker (detective), Peter Thomas (narrator)