DNA extracted from crime scene exhibits and frozen decades ago cracks 35 sex crimes, with many more crimes expected to be solved
Police are using historical DNA evidence to crack a string of cold cases and nab dozens of sex offenders who
thought they had got away with their sordid crimes.
And the DNA detectives are expecting to catch more offenders with new laws coming soon allowing DNA
to be taken from a much wider range of suspects and convicted criminals.
DNA recently extracted from a freezer full of decades-old crime scene exhibits has already solved 35 sex cases.
The police DNA successes include identifying the same pervert as responsible for five previously unsolved
child abductions and rapes committed almost 30 years ago.
Sex crimes cold case squad detectives have damning new evidence linking the sickening crimes to
notorious Victorian paedophile Terry Shores.
They would be looking to charge Shores with the five brutal attacks against children if he hadn’t died in jail in 1993.
Terry Shores has been linked to a string of horrific sex attacks.
Cindy, who was 13 when Shores sexually attacked her in 1986, yesterday said she was
disappointed not to get her day in court.
“But at least Shores can now be named and shamed for what he did,” she said.
Tara, who was 16 when Shores abducted and repeatedly raped her at knifepoint
over three horrifying hours, said recently finding out from police he was her attacker had given her some closure.
“It’s just a shame he died before he could be charged with the five other attacks police now know he did,” she said.
A Herald Sun investigation has also discovered:
The shocking Shores case is just one of dozens of historic sex crimes police have recently
solved by extracting DNA from exhibits which were frozen and stored between 1982 and the 1990s.
Many more unsolved rape and other cases are expected to be cleaned up as DNA obtained from the
freezer full of evidence left at crime scenes decades ago is added to the national DNA database.
Serial rapist Leonard Levett was recently convicted of sex attacks in 1992 and 1996 after being
identified from hair and cigarette butt samples stored in the freezer.
Police expect DNA to lead to hundreds more arrests in historic and current cases after new
Victorian legislation comes into effect in July which will allow DNA to be taken from a much wider
range of suspects and convicted criminals.
The new law will result in the number of Victorian DNA samples taken from suspects and convicted
criminals and stored on the national DNA database jumping from about 4000 a year to more than 20,000 a year.
Police expect this to greatly increase the number of random matches between DNA taken from people and DNA
left at the scenes of unsolved crimes.
Police also expect about a further 20,000 extra DNA samples a year from crime scenes to be
collected under the tough new law.
The freezer full of old crime scene exhibits producing the spectacular results is
at the force’s forensic services department in Macleod.
Police and scientists started storing crime scene exhibits in it in 1983 — six years
before the first use of DNA in a criminal case in Australia — in the hope that one day
technology would improve to the extent the samples would yield clues.
In 2011, when DNA technology had advanced sufficiently that scientists could be
confident of the accuracy of their methods, forensic laboratory staff started the
mammoth task of trying to extract DNA from the hundreds of old frozen samples and recently finished the job.
They obtained 412 samples of good enough quality to put on the national DNA database and doing so has
already produced 95 cold hit matches.
Hundreds more cold hits are expected after the new Victorian legislation allowing
police to take and store DNA from a much wider range of suspects and convicted criminals comes into effect on July 1.
A cold hit is when the DNA database randomly matches DNA from a crime scene with DNA
from a person who until then wasn’t a suspect, or matches DNA from one crime scene with
DNA from another — linking the crimes for the first time as being committed by the same serial offender.
Forensic Services department assistant director John Scheffer yesterday said the DNA
results from the frozen exhibits had been passed gradually to detectives for further investigation since 2011.
“We have looked at 582 cases,” he told the Herald Sun.
“The exhibits from those 582 crime scenes were stored in
the freezer from a period from about 1982 through to the 1990s.
“There were a whole lot of different cases we looked at, mostly rapes, but also burglaries,
armed robberies, assaults, sex offences, murder and criminal damage — but the predominant
number of them were sex offences.”
The cold case unit at Victoria Police’s sexual crimes squad has been given the DNA
results obtained from the frozen exhibits and is chasing corroborative evidence which is
expected to lead to more charges being laid over decades-old sex crimes.
New technology sparks dna breakthroughs
The first use of DNA to solve a crime anywhere in the world was in England in 1986.
Yet four years before that, Victoria Police scientists had the good sense to start
freezing and storing things like cigarette butts, hairs, blood, semen, sweat and saliva found at crime scenes.
They did so in the hope that one day those exhibits would be useful clues in solving crimes.
That day has come.
The foresight shown in storing crime scene evidence at minus 70 degrees in a freezer
at the Victoria Police forensic services department is now paying huge dividends.
DNA obtained from the freezer full of old exhibits from 582 crime scenes has so far helped
the cold case unit at Victoria Police’s sexual crimes squad to solve 35 cases since it was formed in 2012.
Four sex cases relating to DNA from the freezer are currently before the courts and
briefs of evidence are almost completed against several other alleged rapists.
Detectives from the cold case sex crimes unit are actively investigating 47 other
attacks on women and children as a result of evidence obtained from the frozen exhibits.
Tests on the frozen exhibits have identified a further 193 unsolved sex cases that will
be investigated as resources become available.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton yesterday praised the initiative of detectives and
scientists in storing the samples long before DNA was a usable tool for police to identify people.
“In 2011, Victoria Police recommitted to cold casing as a key part of bringing a victim focus back
to our serious crime policing,” he told the Herald Sun.
“We hope the work done by our members reassures victims that their cases, if not initially
solved, are never considered closed.
“It should be a deterrence to offenders to know that criminal forensic science continues to advance.
“We will continue to apply these new scientific developments to catch these criminals.
“The forward vision and good work of long retired detectives and forensic scientists years
ago in retaining these samples for future use has paid dividends.”
Getting the DNA results from the old crime scene samples is just the start.
Detectives from the cold case unit then have to track down the offender in each case
if the DNA database links a person to a crime or crimes.
If the DNA only links an unknown offender to a crime or crimes — because the offender’s
DNA is not on the database — the detectives have to try to identify the offender by speaking to
witnesses and victims to try to establish a pool of suspects to be DNA tested in the hope of getting a match.
Sex crimes cold case squad detectives Deb Bennett and Michael Phyland yesterday explained the difficulties
of investigating decades-old crimes.
They pointed out that finding offenders, victims, witnesses and documentary evidence after so many years was
a difficult and time-consuming task.
Then there are the sex attack victims who don’t want their cases pursued after so long for various reasons,
such as having got married since the rape and not having told their partners or simply not wanting to relive
the trauma of the attack or go through the court process.
“There are also some that for one reason or another may not be able to give evidence that they
could have when they were younger, such as health reasons,” Det-Sgt Phyland said.
“The passage of time doesn’t always help our prospects of having a successful prosecution.”
Det-Sen-Sgt Bennett said the welfare of the victims was paramount and great care was taken
when contacting them to alert them that their case was being investigated again because of new DNA evidence.
“First we make a phone call because if you knock on the door you have got no idea if she is on her
own, if she’s got a partner there that she hasn’t told, if she’s got kids there, it might just be
terrible timing on our behalf,” she said.
“If you make a phone call she has the option of hanging up and not identifying the call to anyone
else that might be present.
“During the phone call we give her some bare details about why we are calling and say that we would like
to come and see her in person.
“When we see her we will either be telling her that we have DNA and we know who her attacker is or that
we have DNA but we don’t know whose DNA it is because their DNA is not on the database.
“We will tell her how we see the investigation progressing.
“We try to empower her so that she has some control over where this is going to go.”
Sgt Phyland said they placed a high importance on what the victims wanted to do and their
wishes were respected if they chose not to press charges.
“They are often obviously the main witness and it is important that we work in with them,” he said.
“We don’t want to make it any more traumatic than it’s already been for them.
“The majority have been keen to proceed.”
Victoria Police forensic services department director Karl Kent said the DNA matches
obtained from the freezer full of evidence from more than 500 old crime scenes
provided detectives with great intelligence to help them solve crimes.
“It’s fantastic, a great initiator, but it’s not handing them a walk-up start,” he said.
“It might be handing them a year’s worth of work as they work through all the potential
factors as to how that DNA could have been transferred to that exhibit at that crime scene.”
Mr Kent said the more DNA profiles that were stored on the national DNA database the better as
the higher the number of DNA profiles the more crimes that would be solved as a result.
He said putting the DNA profiles obtained from the old frozen exhibits on the national DNA
database had boosted the number of Victorian DNA profiles on the database to more than 64,000.
That 64,000 figure is about to increase dramatically with the introduction in July of new
Victorian legislation which is expected to see the number of Victorian DNA samples taken by
police jump from 4000 a year to more than 40,000 a year.
“The legislation, for the first time, will create the opportunity to retain DNA profiles from
all persons convicted of any indictable offence,” Mr Kent said.
“Currently, it’s Schedule Eight offences only, which is a subset of indictable offences.
“Significantly increasing the number of DNA samples on the database by four times clearly,
we would think, will see us get more identifications and solve more crimes.”
The greater powers to collect DNA are contained in the Crimes Amendment (Investigative Powers)
Bill, which comes into effect on July 1.
In his second reading speech, Attorney-General Robert Clark, said the Bill would expand police
powers to collect DNA samples from suspects and offenders and would simplify the ability of
police to retain samples provided by suspects who are subsequently convicted.
“The collection and analysis of DNA evidence is a vital investigative tool in modern policing,” Mr Clark said.
“As the use of DNA technology advances, the law must also advance to ensure that the intersection
between science and criminal investigation is regulated effectively.
“Under the act as it currently stands, DNA samples may only be collected from suspects
and offenders who are suspected or convicted of committing an offence specified in the act.
“The list of offences specified for offenders is more extensive than that for suspects.
“Over time, each list has been amended and extended.
“The resulting lists are complex and difficult to apply in practice.
“To reduce this complexity, and to ensure that all offences of commensurate seriousness
are included, clauses 3, 9 and 10 of this bill expand the range of offences for which a
DNA sample may be taken from a suspect or offender to include all indictable offences.”
Indictable offences where DNA will be able to be taken from suspects and convicted
offenders include, murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, child stealing, sexual offences such as rape,
incest and indecent assault, child pornography, most drug offences, causing serious injury, theft,
robbery, armed robbery, burglary, going equipped to steal, handling stolen goods, obtaining property
by deception, threats to kill or inflict serious injury, stalking, blackmail, perjury,
fraud, negligently causing serious injury, criminal damage to property, unlicensed manufacture
of explosive substances, extortion and dangerous driving causing death or injury.
DNA LINKS FIVE MORE ATTACKS TO SICK PREDATOR
Paedophile Terry Shores was one of Victoria’s sickest and most prolific sex offenders.
He had a shocking record even before DNA recently linked him to five previously unsolved child abductions and rapes.
He repeatedly committed more sex offences against children almost immediately after being released from several stints in jail.
Shores wasn’t even a suspect in any of the five sex attacks until investigators matched his DNA profile
with DNA profiles found on various exhibits at four of the crime scenes.
Armed with that evidence, Victoria Police sex crimes cold case squad detectives were also
able to pin the fifth attack on him.
They would now be looking to charge him with all five sex crimes if he hadn’t
died in jail in 1993 at the age of 53.
The five sex attacks took place in 1985 and 1986, but police were
only recently able to link Shores to them.
Detectives who initially investigated four of the five rapes in the
1980s stored crime scene exhibits in a freezer at the Victoria Police
forensic services department in the hope they would one day lead to the offender.
It wasn’t even thought back then that the five child rapes were linked.
They were investigated as five separate offences committed by five separate offenders.
It was only when the force decided in recent years that technology had advanced
sufficiently to forensically test the hundreds of old crime scene samples stored
in the freezer and put the DNA samples obtained from them on the national DNA database
that the database randomly linked the same offender to DNA he had left at four of the child sex attack scenes.
Detectives now knew they had a serial rapist to pursue, but didn’t know
who that serial offender was as his DNA wasn’t on the DNA database.
It was only through good detective work, which included tracking down
and questioning the victims, that Shores name came up as a strong suspect.
It was then they discovered their prime suspect had died years earlier.
They were able to obtain Shores’ DNA and confirm it matched the DNA left at four of the sex
attack scenes. Other evidence linked him to a fifth attack in Heidelberg.
While death enabled Shores to escape punishment over the rapes, police have
been able to provide some closure for the five victims by revealing to them that Shores was their attacker.
Two of the victims he raped in 1986 recently spoke to the Herald Sun about the attacks on them.
Tara was 16 and was riding her bike on Venice St, Mentone, on her way to a ballet class, when Shores tricked her into stopping.
“He was on the side of the road with his car, pretending to fix it, and asked me for help,” Tara said.
“When I got off my bike he held a knife at my throat and forced me into the car.
“He blindfolded me, sexually assaulted and raped me. He then drove to another location and did it all again.
“All the assaults were in the car and it took about three hours.”
Tara, who is now 44, said it came as a shock when police recently told her
DNA had linked Shores to the sex attack on her and a number of others.
“I never expected after all this time that I would ever find out who my attacker was,” she said.
“But finding out he was dead was not the answer I was looking for because I definitely
had wanted to face my attacker in court and have him held accountable and face punishment for what he did.”
Cindy, another of Shores’ victims, was 13 when she was attacked in 1986.
“I was actually sick that day and my stepmother had taken me to the doctors.” Cindy said.
“From the doctors we went to the Coles car park in Ballarat.
“I stayed in the front passenger seat and she went to get some antibiotics.
“Because I was unwell, and it was a warm, sunny day, the window was wound
down and I was lying with my head on the driver’s seat.
“He put his hand through the window, held my head down and jumped in the car.”
Shores then sexually assaulted her in the car.
“While he did I was trying to look in the mirrors to try to see if
I could see his face, but I couldn’t,” Cindy said.
“When he was finished he said to me that if I looked up he would
come back. Then he got out of the car and left.”
When police recently told her that DNA had identified Shores as her attacker she initially didn’t
believe them as she believed the man had already been caught.
She said Shores had changed her life by attacking her that day in 1986.
“You learn to live with it, but you never get over it,” she said.
“It does change your life because everything you do is with some fear; you lose your trust in men.
“Fortunately I actually eventually found a wonderful man who has become my husband.
“He knows what happened to me and he is always there to hold my hand and support me. He is just brilliant.
“Finding out Shores was dead gave me some closure and relief that he can’t offend again.
“But there was also disappointment that I didn’t get my day in court.
“I had prepared myself for one day facing my attacker in court and showing him that in spite of
him I’m still here and I’m not scared of him anymore.”
Shores started offending at a young age, getting a conviction in 1959 as a 19-year-old
for stealing women’s underwear from washing lines.
He was jailed for 10 years in 1965 for raping and robbing a 21-year-old woman at Caulfield racecourse.
Shores was released after only six years and immediately started offending again,
serving short jail terms in 1972 and 73 for sex offences against teenage girls before being
jailed for another 10 years in 1975 after abducting and sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in Melbourne.
Shores abducted and raped two 12-year-old girls at knifepoint in 1990 while they were visiting a grave at Stawell cemetery.
The County Court was told at his 1992 trial that he held the girls captive for
two hours and subjected them to “close to the full gamut” of possible sexual abuse.
He died in jail a year after being ordered to serve a minimum of eight years for the
rape and false imprisonment of the two 12-year-olds.
The five new offences he has recently been linked to through DNA and other evidence
make him one of Victoria’s most prolific child predators.
The first of those five offences was against a 14-year-old girl who was riding her
bike through Victoria Park in Ballarat about 4pm on December 1, 1985, when she saw a
man standing beside a green station wagon kicking the car’s tyres.
Shores grabbed her as she rode past and threw her into the car.
He drove to a nearby tip, threatened her with a knife and forced her to drink beer
before sexually assaulting her.
Just a month later, Shores approached a 15-year-old girl as she was walking
home from the shops in Bell St, Heidelberg.
He asked her to help him fix the steering of his car and instructed her
to sit in the driver’s seat while he tightened a bolt under the car.
When the teenager got in the car he forced her to the floor and
threatened her with a knife before driving to a nearby location and sexually attacking her.
Just 10 days after that, on January 30, 1986, Shores raped 13-year-old girl Cindy in a
supermarket car park in Peel St, Ballarat.
His next attack was on an 11-year-old girl who he abducted and sexually assaulted in Malvern on February 14, 1986.
She was walking home from school along Elizabeth Street, Malvern. Shores grabbed her as she walked past his parked car.
He forced her into the car and assaulted her before driving a short distance down the street and sexually
assaulting her over an extended period of time.
Shores used the steering problem trick again on August 2, 1986, when he abducted and raped 16-year-old Tara
in Mentone before releasing her in Mordialloc.
CAR THIEF LINKED TO COLD CASE RAPE
DNA obtained from an exhibit stored in the freezer also recently linked a car thief to a rape committed almost 26 years ago.
Police are today appealing through the Herald Sun for help to try to identify that man.
The rape and the car theft were both committed in Warrnambool and evidence suggests the
offender is probably a Warrnambool local.
What police are hoping is that while some who know him might not be prepared to dob him
in over the car theft they might report him now DNA has linked him to a rape.
The unknown offender’s DNA has been on the DNA database since it was found in the stolen car in 2004.
But the DNA from the 1988 rape was only added to the database recently as it was one of hundreds of
previously untested old crime scene samples which were stored in a freezer at Victoria Police’s forensic services department.
DNA has recently been extracted from those exhibits and put on the national DNA database.
That was how police linked DNA from the rape in 1998 with that from the car stolen in 2004.
Victoria Police sex crimes cold case squad detective Deb Bennett believes it is likely there
are people in Warrnambool who know the offender.
Det-Sen-Sgt Bennett said the rape victim, 21, left Warrnambool’s Lady Bay Hotel about 9pm on December 26, 1988.
She accepted a lift from the offender at the intersection of Banyan St and Raglan Parade.
“The offender drove to a nearby deserted area and sexually assaulted the woman inside his car after
threatening her with a knife,” Sen-Sgt Bennett said.
“He sexually assaulted her again outside the car after she escaped for a short time.”
Sen-Sgt Bennett said the victim described her attacker at the time as being Australian,
aged between 20 and 30, 170cm-180cm tall, with a dark complexion and dark coloured wavy hair cut short over the ears.
The offender stole a green 1985 Holden sedan from a car park in Merrivalo Drive, Warrnambool on October 25, 2004 at 9.30pm.
The car was found the following day on a forest track near Wangoon Rd, Framlingham and the offenders
DNA was then extracted from it to be stored on the database.
Sen-Sgt Bennett yesterday appealed to anyone with information about the rape or
car theft to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au