#2. A Criminal Volunteers for Random DNA Sampling
Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Because we live in a horrible world, things like rape, murder, and rape-murder can sometimes go unpunished. So the only thing that really makes us feel better is when the perpetrator is caught in the most fittingly stupid and embarrassing way possible. Take this case from Holland, where a cold case from 1999 was solved in 2012 in a manner that shouldn't have gotten past the casual suggestion phase: They just asked politely for people to submit DNA samples, hoping to randomly find the murderer.
Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images
"Worst case scenario, we get free blood!"
After 13 years of dead ends, the police had no other option than to quit investigating and move on to more pressing issues ... that is, until someone got this outside-the-box and quite frankly stupid idea: They would ask every male citizen living within a 5-mile radius of the crime scene to submit a DNA sample. They didn't force them or anything -- just politely asked. But why in the hell would the killer submit one at all?
The results of this desperate attempt were overwhelming: The gruesome crime still fresh on their minds, almost 6,600 dudes submitted their DNA to help out in the case. And one of those 6,600 dudes remembered the crime rather better than the others. Because he was the guy who did it. He did this voluntarily, despite the fact that he must've known the police had DNA traces of the killer because he was the one who left them there.
"Oh, right. The murder. I just got all caught up in the excitement of giving blood."
Luckily, one man's criminal stupidity is another man's justice, and the investigators soon found a neat 100 percent DNA match. And that is how a local farmer named Jasper M. got rounded up by police, who probably wondered why the guy didn't just save them the trouble and confess.
#1. The Internet Routinely Solves Cold Cases ... With a Facebook for the Dead
Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images
The Internet in general has a strong inclination toward the creepy -- there is an entire category of websites devoted to nothing but photos of mutilated corpses (go check -- we'll wait), and LiveLeak seems to be mostly videos of people dying. Still, some people use the Web's creepy factor for reasons more noble than idly browsing videos of train accidents. Meet the Doe Network -- the Internet's very own "Facebook for the dead."
The Doe Network
The "Like" button has never seemed so inappropriate.
On the surface, the Doe Network is one of those sites that you really, really don't want your mother to know about. It's filled with information about dead and disappeared people, grisly data about missing limbs and decapitations, and, generally, all the disturbing content you can eat and more. It seems like little more than a poorly constructed shock site ... until you notice the words on the front page: "The Doe Network has been recognized as part of the Responsible Volunteer Community by the U.S. Dept. of Justice."
The Doe Network (as in John and Jane Doe) and its various spinoffs are all about solving cold cases with the power of Internet -- it includes thousands of volunteer investigators all over the country (and the world), each posting details about the missing and unidentified people on the Internet by pulling data from public records. Some become involved in helping out the family or search for DNA samples or dental records. Others spend their spare hours searching coroners' websites, forcing themselves to look at disturbing photos of the dead and comparing them to missing unidentified people.
"I swear, six more hours of this and I'm done."
If they think there is a possible match, they post it to the Doe Network to see if anyone else can add to the information. Eventually, when the community has gathered enough information, they pass it on to the police, who then use the evidence to either identify the remains or, when necessary, catch the culprit. A nice idea, in theory. But does this actually accomplish anything?
Well, since the Doe Network was established in 1999, it has played an instrumental part in solving a total of 66 cold case crimes and locating hundreds of missing people, both dead and alive. Not bad for a bunch of Internet strangers that, in other circumstances, would just be sitting on their thumbs and playing browser games.
Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images
Thanks to their hard work, our policemen are free to be more half-assed than ever.
For more bizarre criminal cases, check out The 5 Creepiest Unsolved Crimes Nobody Can Explain and The 6 Most Baffling Serial Crimes.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Groups of Fans Who Have Apparently Lost Their Mind .
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how you can become a regular private dick.
Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up RIGHT NOW and pitch your first article today! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infographic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!
Related Reading: Think the Facebook of the Dead is a cool idea? You'll love these other cases of vigilantes solving crimes. Thanks to the Internet, even a 12-year-old can Batman her way to a conviction. For vigilante mystery-solving of the pop culture variety, this article is your huckleberry. Even the crazy chicken-scratch language in the Zelda games has been cracked and translated by fans. And if you're more interested in the "unsolvable" mysteries Science has figured out, give this link a good, hard click.