Death of Elisa Pilarski: why the cost of canine DNA tests slowed down the investigation

Does the truth have a price? More than three months after the death of Elisa Pilarski, the young pregnant woman attacked by dogs on November 16 during a walk in the Retz forest, DNA and saliva analyzes of 67 animals to identify the potential culprits are pending .

Death of Elisa Pilarski: why the cost of canine DNA tests slowed down the investigation

Does the truth have a price? More than three months after the death of Elisa Pilarski, the young pregnant woman attacked by dogs on November 16 during a walk in the Retz forest, DNA and saliva analyzes of 67 animals to identify the potential culprits are pending . The results would even have been delayed because of an excessively high bill for the analyses. According to Franceinfo, justice therefore requested a quote from a competing laboratory.

The autopsy of the victim's body had concluded that death was caused by "haemorrhage caused by bites from several dogs". Elisa Pilarski died while walking one of her five dogs, Curtis. That day, a pack of hounds was also present in the wood. At this stage of the investigation, no leads have been ruled out. The dogs of the pack or Curtis, who has already bitten his mistress in the past, are all suspected of being the cause of the death of Elisa Pilarski. Hence the importance of these analyses.

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The argument of the price of the analyzes is difficult to accept for the companion of the victim. One of Christophe Ellul's lawyers, Maître Alexandre Novion, describes his client to L'Express as "a man on the ground, going crazy because he was promised something that does not come". He then wonders why it took three months to get an estimate for the analyses. "The analyzes had been presented as a priority by the prosecution, so why didn't we do everything we could to identify the dogs, why in this case we don't put all the means?", He insists.

The lawyer believes that these analyzes are nevertheless decisive for the search for what really happened. Without them, the investigation will be resolved "to the detriment of the truth". "Today, we wonder if the case will not ultimately turn against the victims," ​​worries Alexandre Novion.

For his part, Sébastien Chalvet, head of the judicial police of Creil (Oise) explains to L'Express that "the investigation is continuing, that there are other avenues to dig" and that these results are part of a "body of evidence". However, he concedes that if the investigating judge in charge of the case has ordered these analyzes, it is because they can indeed provide elements for uncovering the truth. Contacted by L'Express, the office of the investigating judge declined to comment.

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"It's not the first time that a bill has been deemed too high, it's nothing extraordinary", explains to L'Express Agnès Thibault-Lecuivre, spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice. If we talk about it today, it's "because the case is in the media", she analyzes. BFMTV also recalls that an invoice for 672,300 euros had been presented to the courts as part of the investigation into the death of little Grégory. The spokesperson then adds that it is up to the magistrate to decide "the equalization between the cost and the need for the analyzes" and that he has a responsibility for the justice budget.

These analyzes are also often expensive. It is private laboratories that are solicited and it is they who set the prices. When it comes to animals, especially when we talk about the DNA of 67 dogs, the bill can quickly climb. There are indeed few private laboratories that provide this kind of analysis, "it can be counted on the fingers of one hand", according to the lawyer.

"For this case, it is necessary to genetically identify individuals by analyzing genetic markers, explained in December an expert in the identification of the DNA of animals to L'Express. Each individual has his own genetic markers which constitute his genetic identity. You then have to compare the genetic fingerprints obtained with the DNA found on the victim". These analyzes often require "several months", added the expert. A procedure which is therefore quite long. If a new laboratory is designated, the relatives of the victim should then arm themselves with patience before obtaining this element of the investigation.

Thursday evening, we learned from a source close to the case that the DNA analyzes would be carried out on 67 potentially incriminated dogs, the judge having only refused the estimate of the first laboratory requested because of its prohibitive cost.

"The DNA expertises are absolutely not abandoned. They will indeed be carried out. The procedure has just taken a little delay due to the high cost of the estimate presented by the private laboratory initially requested" by the investigating judge, said This source told AFP, specifying that the invoice was "200,000 euros".

"It's taxpayers' money we're talking about. The judge could not accept an estimate of this level. She therefore decided to contact the other French private laboratories" able to practice this type of very specific expertise on animals, it was said. "The choice of the laboratory is being made".

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