Unit 8 Crime Conversations: The Christa Worthington Case

Posted by Stacey Leitz on 11/29/2016 12:12:29 PM

Crime Conversations: The Christa Worthington Case

Christa Worthington was a wealthy fashion writer who lived in the tiny town of Truro on Cape Cod with her young daughter.  She was stabbed to death at her house in January 2002. Three years later, the case remain unsolved.  As a result, the police began a voluntary collection of DNA from all of the town's men. Before the voluntary samples were analyzed, the results of a DNA sample taken a year earlier were finally finished.  The DNA of Christopher McCowen, who was Worthington's garbage collector, matched the DNA from the semen sample taken from the victim.  Subsequently McCowen was convicted of first degree murder.  You can read an overview of the Christa Worthington case at murderpedia.org

Click here for 48 Hours Video Review of the Christa Worthington Case


Consider the following questions:

  • If you were asked to voluntarily provide a DNA sample to facilitate an unsolved crime, would you?

  • The reason it took so long to process the McCowen DNA was because of underfunding at the crime lab.  In light of that situation, do you think it makes sense to attempt further voluntary sampling?

  • What do you think of "surreptitious sampling?" Do you think the US Supreme Court should set constitutional limits on the covert collection of DNA? Why or why not?

  • With the massive increase of data storage and automation of DNA fingerprinting, it may be possible in the near future to sample, analyze and store each person's DNA fingerprint.  How would you feel about the government collecting this information at birth so that eventually any DNA collected at a crime scene could be matched with a virtually complete government DNA database (similar to the information the government now has on social security numbers)?

Post your thoughts to the Unit 8 Crime Conversations Discussion topic.



You will earn up to 10 points for your participation in the discussion and will be assessed using the discussion rubric: General Requirements for Discussions.