Newsweek

How Human Hair Can Help Solve Crimes

Mistakes in analyzing DNA can lead to wrongful convictions, and proteins in hair may offer a useful alternative.
Hair analysis may one day prove to be just as useful for crime investigations as DNA is today.
11_25_Forensics_01 Source: BSIP/UIG/Getty

To 23-year-old Jane Mixer, the world was a welcoming place in early 1969. She was one of the first female law students at the University of Michigan, and her boyfriend had just proposed. But Mixer never became a lawyer or a wife. On March 21, she was strangled and shot twice in the head. Her body was dumped in a cemetery 14 miles from her school.

Mixer’s unsolved murder haunted her family for the next four decades, until Michigan State Police announced in 2005 they were charging a retired nurse, Gary Leiterman, with her death. While re-examining the case, investigators found Leiterman’s DNA on

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