Murder of Shirley Duguay

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Shirley Duguay
Shirley Ann Duguay

DisappearedPrince Edward Island
DiedOctober 3, 1994 (aged 32)
Spouse(s)Douglas Beamish

Shirley Ann Duguay[2] (1962 – October 3, 1994) of Prince Edward Island, was a Canadian woman who went missing in 1994 and was later found dead in a shallow grave. Among the most compelling pieces of evidence in the case was a leather jacket covered in Duguay's blood and over two dozen white feline hairs.[3]


Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigators recalled that during a previous interview with the estranged husband, Douglas Beamish, that he had a white cat named Snowball. The detectives confiscated the cat and drew blood in which they intended to use DNA fingerprinting to compare it to the DNA found in the white hairs from the jacket, but they found that no one in the world had done this before.

After contacting the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, a laboratory specializing not in forensics, but in the study of genetic diseases, detectives and scientists were able to develop a method in which to test the feline DNA. The test included a fail-safe method of randomly testing 20 other cats from the isolated Prince Edward Island, in order to establish the degree of genetic diversity among cats in the area, to rule out the possibility that the hairs found in the jacket came from a close relative of Snowball, or if all the cats on the island had a common ancestor, rendering the DNA test useless.[4]

The tests revealed that the hairs did come from the cat; Beamish was subsequently convicted for the murder of his wife.[5][6] The forensic science of testing cat and dog hairs has been firmly established and studied, but it was an unknown science until the Duguay case.[7] Convicted of second-degree murder, Douglas Beamish is serving a life sentence in an Ontario prison. His request for parole in 2013 was denied.[8]


In an episode entitled "Purr-fect Match," Forensic Files outlined this story on February 12, 2002 (Episode 7 of Season 7).[9][circular reference] It was also told on The New Detectives on December 10, 2002, in episode 3 of season 8, "Material Witness."[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shirley Ann Duguay | 1962 - 1994 | Grave Site | BillionGraves". BillionGraves. Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  2. ^ "In memory of... | The Journal Pioneer". Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  3. ^ Marilyn A. Menotti-Raymond, Victor A. David & Stephen J. O'Brien (1997-04-24). "Pet cat hair implicates murder suspect" (PDF, subscription required). Nature. 386 (774): 774. doi:10.1038/386774a0. PMID 9126735.
  4. ^ Butler, John; David, Victor; O’Brien, Stephen; Menotti-Raymond, Marilyn. "THE MEOWPLEX: A NEW DNA TEST USING TETRANUCLEOTIDE STR MARKERS FOR THE DOMESTIC CAT" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  5. ^ Kolata, Gina (April 24, 1997). "Cat Hair Finds Way Into Courtroom in Canadian Murder Trial". The New York Times. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  6. ^ "July 19, 1996 – First Murder Conviction Based on Animal's DNA". 19 July 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  7. ^ "NY Daily News - We are currently unavailable in your region". Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  8. ^ "Parole denied for P.E.I. man who killed common-law wife | The Guardian". Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  9. ^ Forensic Files (season 7)
  10. ^ "Material Witness". Retrieved 2 September 2018 – via

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