In the investigation following Madeleine’s disappearance on May 3, 2007, police collected DNA samples from places including the holiday apartment the family stayed in and from the boot of a car rented by Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann 25 days after she was reported missing.
At the time, the DNA was tested by British lab Forensic Science Service (FSS). While the lab’s forensic scientists found there was a possibility there was a DNA match for Madeleine in the sample, in an email sent to British police in Portugal scientists said the data was «too complex for meaningful interpretation».
Now, Dr Perlin said his US-based Cybergenetics company could use modern computer analysis to unlock the answers in that DNA.
“The impact that would have is investigators would have much more knowledge about who left their DNA in each piece of evidence,» he said. «It could inform some theories, or refute others.”
Dr Perlin’s company successfully identified World Trade Centre victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and its TrueAllele computer program has been used in crime labs and courts around the world, including in the Robert Xie trial in Sydney.
An expert with 20-years experience in computer interpretation of DNA evidence, Dr Perlin said at its height the FSS lab was the “bees’ knees”, however, its reliance on human interpretation of DNA evidence is now outdated and limiting.
While the DNA analysis from FSS was inconclusive, Dr Perlin believes from what he has seen in reports that a TrueAllele analysis of the data could yield enough information to help investigators pursue new lines of inquiry.
Dr Perlin’s revelations were first aired in Maddie, a nine-part podcast about Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.
Nine.com.au senior journalist Mark Saunokonoko, who is behind the top-rating podcast, said the inconclusive DNA test result meant investigators hit a «dead end» in that particular line of inquiry.
Saunokonoko said after speaking to Dr Perlin he contacted Scotland Yard to tell them the Cybergenetics lab was willing to test the data, but so far had not heard back.
“[Dr Perlin] can resolve those samples, hopefully he gets that data to find that out, that should be exciting for a cold case that 11 years on and still struggling,” he said.
Rachel Clun is a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald.