I believe in re-reading many of my magazines - especially the Reader's
Digest and even Mother Jones and the E Magazine. The latter often contain
articles which only the serious reader will want to absorb.
However, this time I reread an article in the 2006 February Reader's Digest
called "Hunt for the Green Mountain Killer" which - of course was very sad-
in that a young woman of 28 lost her life to a killer. Yet the story ended on
a fulfilling note -having her parents helping to solve her murder. You may
even recall reading or hearing about it- especially if you live in the New
It was also very illuminating for me because it revealed -as we all know by
now, just how important the discovery of DNA is in solving crimes. But do
most people know or even care who made a huge contribution in its discovery?
I believe not-unless they were intrigued, fascinated, and grateful as I to have
been fortunate enough to have watched the story of Rosalind Franklin (1920-
1958) unfold on one of PBS's documentaries a few years back. I was so inspired
by her story that I made it a point to search her out on the internet- so that yet
another medium's exposure would never let me forget her.
She could well have been our contemporary had she lived longer, but she died
at 38 in 1958. However, though so young- she left behind a legacy that many of
us could only admire and never hope to even come anywhere near duplicating.
At the internet site I found a lovely picture of her posted by the Cleveland Plain
Dealer (April 22, 2003) with the caption: "Rosalind Franklin was an expert in
X-ray crystallograhy, which used X-rays to capture a photograhic "echo" of a
Sadly, I believe this brilliant scientist never received much credit for her part
in the final discovery of DNA because her colleague- without her permission,
gave her unpublished work to Watson and Crick, and they "ran" with it landing
the Nobel Prize. If memory serves me correctly, they didn't give her any credit.
I hope that I'm not the only one who watches A & E's real Cold Cases hosted
by Bill Kurtis. I almost always gratefully think of Rosalind Franklin when
innocent people are exonerated or the guilty are finally recognized through
DNA evidence. We place so many people on pedastals who, in my opinion,
don't belong there, but never give second thoughts to the unsung heroes or
heroines like Rosalind Franklin. I hope she is found in our history books. Her
contribution can never be discounted as small, and we should recognize people
of her ilk in gratitude.
I think I know two people -David and Ann Scoville who would be grateful to
know about her contribution, because DNA would help them find their daughter's
At the time though in 1991 when their 28 year-old daughter Patty was found
murdered after newly moving to Vermont from Boston - the problem was that
there were no laws requiring violent criminals to give DNA samples or
providing a DNA data bank to hold them. Bruce Merriman, the lead detective
on Patty's case, had told the Scovilles that with such a data bank they may be
able to find Patty's killer.
That's all they needed to hear and in 1997 they drove to Montpelier, Vermont
to tell the legislators there their story about Patty's death and how important it
was to enact laws which would help in finding her killer.
Seven years after Patty's murder- Vermont and Rhode island passed laws
requiring the setting up of DNA registeries and requiring violent criminals to
submit DNA samples.
In 2005 the Scovilles got the telephone call they had hoped for since the day
they learned of their daughter's murder. They had found a match. In 1997
Howard G. Godfrey had been convicted of aggravated assault and his DNA
matched the DNA found in Patty's body.
When going to trial in 2008, Godfrey claimed he never saw Patty that day or
ever. When the DNA evidence was presented he then admitted that he knew
her and they had had consensual sex. However, the jury ( 1 woman and 11 men)
bought none of it, and he was convicted of murder and rape. He will spend the
rest of his life in prison - thanx to the work of Detective Bruce Merriman, the
Scovilles who legislated for a DNA bank, and of course, to Rosalind Franklin
who had contributed so much to DNA science without getting the credit she
so richly deserved.