CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Saturday, March 12, 2005

DNA Test Links Killer, then Four Years Old, to 1969 Murder UPDATED

The 1969 murder of University of Michigan Law student Jane Mixer led to an arrest in November, 2004 based on a DNA match.  Mixer had been shot and strangled with silk stockings, but had not been sexually assaulted.  Further DNA testing gave rise to startling results.  According to the Detroit Free Press: "A 35-year-old murder mystery deepened Friday as a State Police scientist testified that DNA from two people was found on the body of a slain University of Michigan law student. One DNA sample was traced to the man charged with killing Jane Mixer in 1969 and the other to someone who was 4 years old at the time and who grew up to brutally murder his own mother."  Story here. Follow up here. Perhaps the 4 year old was indeed at the crime scene somehow.  Or, perhaps the profile identification is a false hit.  In the former case, it is spooky and tragic; in the latter, it is, perhaps a crack in the idea that DNA (done right) is infallible. UPDATE:  Curiouser and curiouser.  The Detroit Free Press reports the defendant, Gary Leiterman, was bound over for trial.  It also says that Leiterman's DNA found on Jane Mixer's pantyhose was from neither blood nor semen, and that she had not been sexualy assaulted before she was shot.  It is hard to explain semen from a rape or blood from a fight, but if this DNA is saliva or nasal discharge from a cough, sneeze or spit, or skin cells, then the probabtive value is much diminished. [Jack Chin]  SECOND UPDATE:  There's now a book on the victim, Jane: A Murder, written by Jane Mixer's niece.  Also, the trial of Gary Leiterman, scheduled for July, has been assigned to county judge Donald Shelton, who attended the University of Michigan Law School with the victim, but stated that he did not remember her.

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» Troubling genes from kemplog
Jack Chin, over at the Criminal Professor covered a story out of Michigan Friday that is going to need some explaining. DNA analysis on specimens from a 1969 murder resulted in the conclusion that a 39 year old man was... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 23, 2005 7:51:19 AM


This case is fascinating. I live in this area, and clerk for the Detroit prosecutor's office.

Posted by: tom | Jan 20, 2005 9:10:43 PM

The case is fascinating, and heartbreaking, especially for me, because Barbara Mixer Nelson (Jane's sister) is my aunt, and Jane: A Murder was written by my cousin Maggie Nelson. My father remembers it all quite clearly.

Posted by: Andrea | Jul 11, 2005 11:47:13 AM

The case of Jane Mixer is sad , but, It is so horrible if someone innocent gets charged. I believe that Gary should not be in prison or even charged, as there has been evidence that there was an error of some kind ! The four year olds DNA should not be there or be able to be explained. If there is a question on this ,so, there should be about gary. We know weird things happen!What if it happened to you ? And you were innocent?

Posted by: judy bailey | Nov 26, 2005 10:16:50 PM

It is 26/11/05 and I am watching a TV program regarding this case. I am wondering about something that was not mentioned.

- Jane posts a notice asking if anyone was driving her way home and if she could catch a ride.
- Someone calls to offer a ride.
- Jane mentions to her sister that the person she is catching a ride with is “David Johnson”.
- Obviously, as David Johnson was acting in a play at that time, he was not the right person.

My question is: Was there a poster of the play that David Johnson was appearing in, posted on or near the same poster board that Jane pinned up her ride request. It seems to me that perhaps the killer (Leiterman?) saw this poster, and as he wrote Jane’s phone number down, and also took David Johnson’s name to use as his alias?

It was not mentioned in the news cast, but I work at a University and I know how the poster boards are always covered with all sorts of notices, etc.

Posted by: Melanie Cooke | Nov 26, 2005 11:01:47 PM

Why doesn't the prosecution care how the blood evidence of the four year old got on the victim's hand? This should cause sufficient doubt regarding the DNA testing. Also, fingerprint evidence didn't match Gary Leiterman either. They should keep investigating to find these answers.

Joy, New Brunswick, Canada

Posted by: Joy | Nov 27, 2005 9:35:12 AM

After watching the 48 Hours program, it seems to me that the only person truly convinced that Gary Leiterman is guilty is the prosecuter.

Posted by: Jeannie | Nov 28, 2005 5:49:49 AM

I'm not convinced that the killer is Gary Leiterman. Pure and simple.

Posted by: Davan S. Mani | Jan 15, 2007 7:14:42 AM

I just got done watching a show on the murder and once thing that caught my eye was that the locations of the DNA appeard to be evenly spaced out lets say every 12 inches on the stocking.. I'm no expert but that looks like they where folded and someone the DNA got on them and seeped(sp) through to the other end.

Take it for what its worth but someone could have sneazed(sp), coughed,sweat, spit on stockings in a package that was in a store display. How many women wash stockings before they wear them.

Posted by: gaorenst | Mar 24, 2007 8:07:47 PM

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