A Doctor Cheated DNA Tests By Implanting Somebody Else's Blood Into His Arm

Discussion in 'Forensic Medicine' started by Mahmoud Abudeif, Apr 17, 2021.

  1. Mahmoud Abudeif

    Mahmoud Abudeif Golden Member

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    In the 1990s, Dr John Schneeberger avoided conviction for the sexual assault of a woman and his own step-daughter for seven years by going to extreme lengths in order to confound DNA testing proving his guilt.

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    On October 31, 1992, Candice Fonagy went to her local hospital in Kipling, Canada, looking for a friend after she had had an argument with her boyfriend.

    Her friend wasn't working that night, but a nurse suggested she should see a physician, given the worked-up state she was in at the time. Dr John Schneeberger saw Fonagy, and recommended a sedative to calm her down. She was expecting a pill but was given an injection, after which she immediately went numb.

    Her memory from that point on was hazy, as the drug she was given – later determined to be midazolam – inhibits the creation of new memories, as well as inducing sleepiness and decreasing anxiety. Its main use is before medical procedures or for people on mechanical ventilators in order to decrease consciousness.

    When she came to, she believed that she had been sexually assaulted by the doctor. Upon reporting her experience to the police, semen was found, as well as the unusual choice of drug the doctor had given her.

    When questioned, Schneeberger volunteered to provide a blood sample to the police to be compared to the sample collected, which he did. The DNA did not match. A year later, however, police agreed to test Schneeberger again, this time under police supervision rather than being supplied with a sample. Again, the DNA did not match. After this, the local community began to believe that Fonagy had lied about the assault, and with no proof, the police ended the investigation.


    Schneeberger claimed that the drug he had given Fonagy sometimes produced hallucinations of sexual activity, but Fonagy continued to look for answers. She hired a private investigator to get a sample of Schneeberger's DNA to be tested at a private lab. However, blood isn't the easiest sample to get hold of (people tend to notice if you start slapping their vein and begin jabbing) so the investigator selected an easier sample: his chapstick.

    This sample did match the semen sample.

    This was enough for Fonagy to launch a civil trial against Schneeberger, where he agreed once more to get a DNA test in front of police witnesses. The technician attempted to draw blood from the doctor's finger, but Schneeberger insisted that they take it from his arm. The technician struggled to get blood from his vein despite it being engorged, but couldn't get enough for DNA testing, so the case fell apart again.

    Then, in April 1997, Schneeberger's 15-year-old step-daughter came forward to allege that he had been injecting her at night, before assaulting her on a number of occasions. This time when the police questioned him, they took samples of his hair, and blood from his finger.

    Unlike the blood from his arm, this DNA was a perfect match for the semen sample obtained after the assault on Fonagy. They had the right man, but an obvious question remained: why the hell was the DNA only just matching now?

    In the trial, Schneeberger confessed to his method of evading blood analysis. He provided the police with blood from another patient, which he had been storing inside his own arm. He had implanted a 15-centimeter Penrose drain into his arm containing the other man's blood as well as anticoagulants to keep it from degrading too much.

    The third blood sample had been insufficient for testing because the blood had nearly run out and was over two years old.

    You won't be surprised to learn that a man willing to fill his arm with somebody else's blood wasn't going to give up easily, and Schneeberger claimed that Fonagy had snuck in and obtained the semen from a used condom. The jury did not buy it, and he was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.

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