Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

K-9 Forensics

Killing Cousins

Although Mwenvano Kupaza, 25, was missing, no one realized it for several weeks. Her cousin, Peter Kupaza, claimed that she had left Madison, Wisconsin, to return to her home in Tanzania, so her friends thought that's where she was, while her Tanzanian family believed she was still in Wisconsin.

Search dog climbs over debris. (AP)
Search dog climbs over debris. (AP)

Then on July 31, 1999, as reported in the Wisconsin Sentinel, a woman picnicking with her children on the banks of the Wisconsin River near Spring Green found a female torso. Nearby were several garbage bags filled with body parts. The corpse was identified as the missing woman, although not easily because someone had removed the skin from the victim's face, head, and neck. The killer had also meticulously cut the parts from the torso, but everything was found except the feet. Although an autopsy was performed, the pathologist could determine no obvious cause of death.

Before they realized the identity of the victim, police checked over 2000 case files of missing black women. When they found no matches, they called in experts at the Milwaukee School of Engineering's Rapid Prototyping Center. These technicians did CT scans of the head to assist a forensic artist in making a three-dimensional clay sculpture. From this, posters were created that showed four different "looks" (with glasses, a turban, long hair and short) and then distributed them around the state. It wasn't long before a woman came forward to say that the pictures looked like her former husband's cousin, Mwenvano Mwambashi Kupaza.

Authorities then located Peter Kupaza to ask him a few questions. Court documents indicated that he had raped the young woman in 1997 and when she became pregnant, he had forced her to get an abortion. Because she had filled out a form at the abortion clinic, investigators were able to get a known fingerprint to match the hand from the skinned torso. Kupaza was arrested and charged with killing the young woman.

However, Kupaza insisted that in April he had talked with the victim's father in Tanzania, who had assured him that she'd arrived home safely. Yet upon questioning the father, it became clear that he'd not heard from his daughter since June of 1998, nor had he spoken to Kupaza in over two years.

A search of Kupaza's apartment turned up possessions belonging to the victim, including her Bible and purse. There were also garbage bags in his place similar to those found wrapped around the body parts.

Then Sandra Anderson from Canine Solutions International brought in Eagle, her mixed-breed scenting dog. Eagle was taken into the Kupaza apartment and he soon alerted investigators to the presence of blood behind a baseboard in the bathroom. The apartment quickly became the suspected murder scene.

Kupaza went to trial, where his former wife testified about his abusive behavior. She also alerted police about his background in Tanzania, where families often butchered their own livestock. Kupaza was skilled in the use of knives and slaughtering techniques. Her testimony was compelling, and with help of a dog finding the minute traces of human blood, Kupaza was convicted of first-degree murder.

Dogs like Eagle are used in many different types of investigative work. There are several areas of specialization, which we will address in the next few chapters.


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