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Monday, October 7, 2002

BREAKING NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac

Police Probing Mailbox Incident - THE MIAMI HERALD - Sept. 29, 2002 ...suspect said he had worn gloves to avoid fingerprint identification after writing a ''nasty'' letter to his daughter's mother...

U.S. Advises Egyptian Visitors They May be Fingerprinted on Arrival - THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - Sept. 29, 2002 ...The US began advising Egyptians traveling to America they may be fingerprinted...

Prints Will Help Finger Fraudulent Shoppers - THE DENVER POST - Oct. 2, 2002 ...shoppers using credit cards and checks soon could be asked to give their fingerprints... Additional Info: Denver Post Editorial

Convict Captured, Despite New Face - THE LOS ANGELES TIMES - Oct. 5, 2002 ...71year-old females fingerprints proved she was the fugitive...




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 few announcements

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 CLPEX.com.

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, jfieditor@theiai.org.

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”

There is 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 can.

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.

Original lift:


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 time.

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 bathroom floor. 

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 message board 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 print-related discussions.


UPDATES on 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 and more!

Added Glenn's Critics article to the Articles page.

Added a Project page to the RSW section regarding the CD project for course handouts.

Updated the Newzroom page with the current Newz.

Updated the Detail Archives.

Feel free to pass The Detail along to other examiners.  This is a free service FOR latent print examiners, BY latent print examiners. There are no copyrights on The Detail, and the website is open for all to visit.

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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.

Have a GREAT week!