The Thief Forgot His Name

Patricia Bradley Mystery Question

This week I’m giving away a copy of Silence in the Dark! Now for last week’s winner of the $10 gift card: Caryl Kane!

Prison wireLast week’s Mystery Question intrigued me from the get-go. I had to disguise the crime, but this is what attracted my attention:

She was one of Germany’s most-wanted criminals. Dubbed “The Phantom of Heilbronn” and “The Woman Without a Face,” she apparently committed an extraordinary series of crimes across Germany over more than 15 years, including murders, break-ins and theft. Lab tests showed her DNA at 40 different crime scenes. Investigators had to admit they were stumped. When they finally arrested someone, they had to release the person. What was the problem?


  1. She was an identical twin and they had the wrong twin.
  2. When they arrested the person, they had to release him because DNA said the suspect was a woman.
  3. A woman at the factory where DNA cotton swabs were manufactured contaminated the swabs, giving a false DNA reading.
  4.  Another murder was committed and the person caught confessed to the serial killings.

The answer is #3. Here is the article from Spiegel Online Links:

The woman, however, probably does not exist. Investigators now fear the “evidence” was a result of using contaminated cotton swabs to collect DNA samples, the public prosecutor’s office in Saarbrücken announced Wednesday.

Suspicions arose after the Phantom’s DNA turned up during an investigation into the identity of a burned body, which had been found in France and which was thought to belong to an asylum seeker who disappeared in 2002. Police discovered that the missing man had had his fingerprints taken for his asylum application. They obtained DNA from the fingerprints and found — to their surprise — that it matched up with the Phantom’s DNA.

Investigators now suspect that certain batches of cotton swabs were contaminated before delivery, which could have happened during the production process or when the cotton was picked. They are currently looking into how the cotton swabs are made to see how the DNA might have snuck in.

Can you imagine the nightmare of cases that will have to be re-tried from this error? Or the criminals who might go free?

Now for this week’s Mystery Question.

A suspect had just broken into a pickup truck, and stolen a radar detector, and placed it in a stolen bank deposit bag. Also stolen was a wallet with cash and credit cards. The suspect was  arrested, but couldn’t remember his name. The wallet in his pocket belonged to the owner of the pickup. How did the officer discover the suspect’s name?

  1. His fingerprints outed him along with a long list of arrests.
  2. He had his probation officer’s business card in the wallet in his other pocket.
  3. He’d stolen his sister’s pickup and when the officer called him, she readily gave up her brother’s name.
  4. He was the arresting officer’s brother and the pickup belonged to the officer.

Okay, Mystery Solvers, which one is the correct answer? Leave your comment and be sure to share on Facebook and Tweet about it so others can try to solve it!

Silence in the DarkThis week, I’m giving away a copy of my last book–Silence in the Dark to one of my readers  who leave a comment. If you tweet about it or post it on Facebook, I’ll put you in twice!

I’ll use again to pick the lucky reader!!