T H E
D E T A I L
Monday, October 7, 2002
BREAKING NEWz you can
compiled by Jon Stimac
Good morning via the "Detail,"
a weekly e-mail newsletter that greets latent print examiners around the globe
every Monday morning. The purpose of the Detail is to help keep you informed of
the current state of affairs in the latent print community, to provide an avenue
to circulate original fingerprint-related articles, and to announce important
events as they happen in our field.
Last week, finished up Glenn Langenburg's series on Defending Against the
Critics. The 3-part article is now available in the Article section of the
website under Legal Issues, and is printer-friendly. This week, we look at
a neat case from Tracy Saur, Latent Print Examiner from the Grand Rapids,
Minnesota Police Department, Latent Print Unit. But first, we look at a
It's BidNow week!! As you know, the first Monday of each month is reserved
for placing a unique fingerprint-related item up for auction on Ebay. This
month, our BidNow item is a gold colored name badge holder / attendance ribbon
from the IAI conference in Washington DC... in 1921!! Check out the
auction on Ebay for pictures.
Greg Parkinson, Sergeant at Arms of the parent body IAI, is trying to track down
some actual Bertillon measuring instruments. For pictures of the
instruments he is looking for and a link to more information on the Bertillon
system of measurements, visit the temporary Bertillon page I have set up on
A very nice lady named Dolly called the other day and asked if I would mention
that Dr. Roland Menzel himself is putting on a "Laser Fingerprint Development
Workshop" in Lubboc, Texas in January, 2003. Tuition for the 40 hour
course is $900, the room rate is $65 a night, and there are only 12-15 slots
available. Tuition includes a banquet, 3 CEU's, and the second edition of
Dr. Menzel's book "Fingerprint Detection with Lasers." More information
about this hands-on workshop is available at the Texas Tech University Center of
Forensic Services website. Contact Dollie by
e-mail at dollieN689@aol.com to
register. She would like to emphasize that time is running short, so
contact her soon; and mention the Detail Newsletter so she knows where you heard
about the workshop.
During the 2001
Miami conference, the IAI Board of Directors
expressed a desire to expand the technical section of the Journal of Forensic
Identification. In attempting to fulfill that goal, Alan McRoberts has nearly
exhausted the backlog of articles. His request is that you seriously consider
submitting an original
articles, technical reports, or case reports for
publication in the JFI. He encourages everyone to share your research and
case work with your peers and to contribute to the advancement of your
profession in a significant way. For further details, check the "Instructions
for Submissions" in each issue of the JFI, or contact: Alan McRoberts, Editor,
Journal of Forensic Identification, PO Box
893789, Temecula, CA 92589-3789, (909) 587-8337,
This week's Detail is entitled "Teamwork". Thank you Tracy for sharing
with us this neat case review:
TEAMWORK: “work done by several associates
with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the
efficiency of the whole”
really nothing unusual or special about the facts of this case. Everyone involved did
their jobs to the best of their abilities and beyond. As professionals we
do these types of things on a daily basis. Sometimes however, it takes a
case like this to remind us of the importance of everyone involved, from
beginning to end. Sometimes, it takes a case like this to remind us that
the ability to work together and not close our minds to the suggestions of
others is paramount. Sometimes, it takes a case like this to remind us to
never give up until you KNOW that you have done everything that you possibly
Recently a 96 year old resident of our city was sexually assaulted. The
first officer at the scene made sure that no contamination occurred and that
he obtained as much information as possible to pass along to the Technicians
that would be processing the scene. (knowing the facts as best you can at
the beginning of an investigation and knowing that little or no
contamination took place makes every persons job that much more effective)
Two Crime Scene Technicians and their supervisor spent the better portion of
a whole day photographing, collecting evidence and obtaining friction ridge
impressions from throughout the residence.
Excitement turned to disappointment after I advised the Technicians that
while the impression that they had obtained from the point of entry window
was identifiable, it appeared to be the outer portion of a finger, and the
chances of a successful AFIS search were doubtful. As they left the office
muttering to themselves, I took the impression to the AFIS computer,
muttering to myself, hopeful that maybe, just maybe I could work with the
image, yet fearing my initial impressions were correct. Despite that, I
felt it was worth a try.
As I labored at my AFIS terminal, the two Technicians kept telling
themselves, that the impression on the window was better than I was
indicating. After some discussions, they felt that maybe an attempt at a
re-lift would provide a clearer impression. Shortly there after, they
entered my office and gave me a second lift of the same impression from the
point of entry. Much to my delight there was now possible core and delta
area present! I immediately entered the second lift into AFIS.
Imagine my disappointment when it still didn’t hit. I thought that I would
give it one more try, and make a tracing of the impression and enter it that
way. I’m still not TOTALLY sold on direct entry, and thought I have nothing
to lose by going the tracing route, and entering the impression for a fourth
As I began to examine the list of 125 candidates, number 8 caught my
attention. I felt that enough detail was consistent that it warranted
finding out who the subject was and examining the impression with a
hard-copy of the known fingerprints. After analyzing, comparing and
evaluating the impressions, I determined it was a match! After
verification from a second Latent Print Examiner, it was time for the
detective to start detecting.
Late that afternoon our detectives went to the house where the person whose
impression has been found on the point of entry glass had been living.
After a five hour stand-off, as the officers were gaining entry to the
residence, the person took his own life. Unfortunately, they were never
able to question him about the incident.
During the course of processing the residence after the assault occurred,
what appeared to be sole and toe impressions had been taken from the
At the autopsy performed on the subject the next morning, one of the Crime
Scene Technicians took sole and toe impressions. Subsequent comparison
of the known impressions taken from the bottom of the feet at the autopsy
revealed that indeed one of the impressions was of the #2 toe of the left
foot. (a first for me, a toe make!)
While the detective is still awaiting the results of DNA testing, for all
intensive purposes, there is no ongoing criminal investigation at this
time. The latent print identifications in the case combined with their
location and other case information provide substantial evidence that this
was indeed the perpetrator the assault.
PERSEVERE: "to persist in a state, enterprise or undertaking in spite of
counterinfluences, opposition or discouragement”
As I stated at the beginning, there really is nothing unusual about this
case. EVERYONE involved in this case did their jobs to the best of their
abilities. The original officer at the scene should be commended for
preserving the scene and obtaining as much information as possible. The
Crime Scene Technicians should be commended for their thorough processing of
the entire residence, their communication with one another and their
uncompromising acceptance of each others suggestions. I guess that I even
have to include myself, for not giving up on AFIS until I was sure I had
exhausted all entry possibilities!
I’m not really much of an author. Actually, I wrote this because Kasey
keeps telling me that I “owe” him an article :) (Note from the webmaster:
you ALL owe me an article. ha ha... :) I just thought that this would
be a good reminder as to what this job is all about: keep your mind open to
the suggestions of others, and above all else, don’t give up until you know
you have given your all!
Next week, we will entertain the subject of latent print examiners and science,
specifically addressing what type of science you practice and whether you
consider yourself a scientist or not. If you have a paragraph or two you
would like to submit for inclusion in the Detail itself, please forward it my
way. If you would prefer to wait until after the Detail is published next
week, then we can discuss it on the message board. I have already had a
couple of people express interest in exploring this issue further, so get those
perspectives in to me via e-mail this week.
The informal CLPEX.com
is available for banter about this week's Detail:
And the onin.com forum
(http://onin.com/fp/wwwbd/) is also available for more formal latent
CLPEX.com this week...
Updated the bookstore with quite a few new books and deleted even more sold
books. New books include Galton, Henry, Cooke, Moenssens, Alphonse
Bertillon, by Rhodes, and several rare dermatoglyphic books. Check out the
clpex.com bookstore and look for the yellow "New" sticker on these titles
Added Glenn's Critics article to the
Added a Project page to the RSW section
regarding the CD project for course handouts.
Updated the Newzroom page with the current
Updated the Detail Archives.
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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.
Have a GREAT week!