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Crime News

These Amazing Family Pets Helped Solve Criminal Cases

DNA recovered from the beak of a bird who drew blood while pecking an attacker helped put someone in jail for murder.

By John Thrasher

While we often associate pets with being our cute, furry friends to cuddle with on weekends, sometimes they can provide quite a lot more to life than we may realize.

Dogs, cats and even birds have proven to be key components to investigations where a crime scene involves the home in which they live. Here are a couple of cases where the pets we know and love have become heroes in investigations.

Get your ticketsnow for "The Secret Life of Pets 2," in theaters June 7. 

1. 'Bird' the bird provides DNA

On Christmas Eve in 2001, the owner of a pool company, Kevin Butler, was attacked in his home by two men looking to steal valuables. When a knife fight broke out in the home, Butler's white-crested cockatoo named Bird came to his defense and attacked the strangers, drawing blood with pecks to their heads.

Sadly, Bird was killed during the altercation and the men escaped. But Bird posthumously saved the day. Following the attack, DNA was recovered from Bird's beak and claws that was matched to a man named Daniel Torres, who was a former employee at Butler’s pool company.

Torres also wiped blood off his head after being pecked and then touched a light switch, putting him at the crime scene.

Daniel Torres was eventually convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, according to BBC News.

2. A 'Snowball's' chance in hell

In 1994, a mother of five from Canada named Shirley Duguay vanished without a trace. Some people suspected that her common-law husband Douglas Beamish was involved in some sort of foul play.

“Beamish had a prison record and unsavory reputation with the ladies,” reported the New York Daily News. “More than one of his squeezes reported being slapped around.”

But with no evidence putting Beamish at the crime scene, no arrest was made.

Three days after her disappearance, a jacket was found in a bag in the woods near Duguay's home that included blood stains. The jacket also contained several white cat hairs. This detail could have been missed, but an investigator on the case named Roger Savoie recalled a white cat in Beamish's home during one of his interviews. 

Savoie sent the hairs to be DNA tested, and sure enough they belonged to Beamish's family cat, Snowball. The match was enough to arrest Savoie. 

While his defense attorney argued "without the cat, the case falls flat," Savoie was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 18 years without parole, according to The New York Times.

3. Family dog hair found in suspect's home

In 2001, a 7-year-old named Danielle Van Dam vanished one night without a trace. Police had little to no evidence and could not connect anyone to the girl's disappearance. 

Eventually, a neighbor by the name of David Westerfield started to catch some of the eyes of investigators. Westerfield was acting suspiciously, including packing things into his RV and leaving his residence during searches for missing Danielle. 

Police eventually obtained a search warrant for Westerfield's home. During a search, investigators found hairs that matched the Van Dam family dog. According to prosecutors, the dog hair was attached to Danielle's pajamas and was left behind in Westerfield's home, according to The Los Angeles Times.

It was enough evidence to charge and convict Westerfield of abduction and murder. He was sentenced to death on August 21, 2002, reported the San Diego Tribune.

4. Parrot recites "don't shoot"

In murder cases, eye witness testimony is sometimes crucial to the developments of a court proceeding. But in this case, the eye witness was a parrot named Bud. 

A few weeks after the murder of Martin Duram his pet parrot began repeating an argument between two people. The bird is believed to have said "Get out" and "Where will I go?"

Then, in what is believed to be the Michigan man’s last words, the parrot repeated the phrase, "Don't f---ing shoot," according to the Detroit Free Press.

Eventually, Duram's wife, 49-year-old Glenna Duram, was convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of her husband after an eight hour jury deliberation, according to USA Today.

Hug your pets and get your tickets to "The Secret Life of Pets 2," in theaters June 7.