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Monday, June 2, 2003

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

Police Find New Way of Tracing Missing Children - SABC NEWS, SO. AFRICA - May 30, 2003 ...new method will require police to go to schools and take fingerprints and a picture...

Crime Soon Will Pay -- for Faster Crime Labs - THE SEDALIA DEMOCRAT, MO- May 30, 2003 ...a bill passed by Missouri legislators may help clear up crime laboratory backlogs...

Guard's Fingerprints in Car - NEWS24.COM, SO. AFRICA - May 27, 2003 ...a fingerprint expert testified that the print could only have been made in the inside of the car...

Autoscans of Texans' Faces, Fingerprints Rejected - THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE, TX - May 27, 2003 ...citing concerns about 'Big Brother,' the TX House killed a bill that would have authorized the Department of Public Safety to collect biometric images...

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.


NEW TRAINING OPPORTUNITY: Pat A. Wertheim is happy to announce that he is putting together a brand new 40-hour class, Ridgeology, Daubert, and Testimony. The class will combine lecture on ridgeology science concepts, discussion of Daubert challenges to fingerprint evidence, and moot court sessions led by a real judge and practicing prosecutors and defenders. Two sessions will be offered in Tucson, Arizona -- November 3-7 or November 10-14. Student tuition will be $545. Hotel will be available at $45 per night. For more information, email Pat at foridents@aol.com.  A CLPEX.com training page containing a course outline and objectives will be available soon.


Last week, we read an excerpt from a science textbook relating that there is no set scientific method.  This week we put our ACE-V methodology to work in a comparison by Josh Bergeron from the Minnesota State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.  Josh charted out this latent print and presented the evidence recently.  Thank you, Josh, for sharing this case with the readers of the Weekly Detail...


Case synopsis: (Names have obviously been changed)

Upon finding out that her husband (Jon) was having an affair, Jane physically and verbally demanded he not see his lover, Martha, again. In order to ensure cooperation in this regard, a restraining order against Martha was obtained and Jane began watching Jon like a hawk. She figured out to the minute how long it took Jon to clock out from work and drive home, and if Jon was even one minute late, another beating was waiting for him when he walked in the door. (loving relationship?)  Jane even enlisted the help of their children in her quest; they were instructed to report back if daddy talked to any girls while they were out. Well, after a few too many late returns from work and reports from the children, Jane had taken all she could handle. 

One day, Jon was confronted by his wife at the door and was told that he had two choices. Either he could help her kill Martha, or she would kill him and then go kill Martha by herself. After brief but thorough consideration, he opted for the former. Upon coaxing Martha into their full size fan, a beating ensued and Martha’s hands were bound with duct tape. Once back at Jane and John’s house they continued the beatings, even giving Martha her “last cigarette”. However, they decided that Martha probably realized by now that they meant business, and Jon and Jane agreed they didn’t have to kill her anymore. 

So they conjured up a story of how Martha had broken into the house and they awoke that morning to her trying to strangle Jane. As the story went, Jon pulled Martha off his wife and then both Jane and Jon beat her up and tied her up while they waited for the police to come. This was all discussed in the presence of Martha, who they thought was unconscious at the time.

The police arrived with the ambulance and got the statements from Jane and Jon. Seeing no need to question their story, they left the scene. However, upon verifying Martha’s side of the story, they headed back to Jane and Jon’s house where the van was parked in the driveway. Upon seeing physical evidence through a window in the van, Jane and Jon were taken into custody. Search warrants eventually led to the discovery of not only the duct tape but blood spatter and hair tufts in the van.

The defense of Jane and Jon was one of admission. Of course Martha’s hair and blood were in the van. She and Jon had been having an affair and often “things” happened in the van. The duct tape was just something Jon and Martha liked to do. The problem was that Jane’s fingerprint was identified on one of the inner layers of the duct tape.


This was the only fingerprint found in the case and it proved to be one of the crucial pieces of evidence. In fact, the Attorney felt that the latent print was so crucial, he asked for a courtroom demonstration. The thought was that once the clarity of the latent print was demonstrated for the jury, it would stop a lot of questions about “only counting Galton level details in an exam”. The attorney, someone with no latent print experience, also added that it helped him see what the examiner was really looking at, and he figured the jury would feel the same way.

(The chart below was presented ridge-by-ridge, and then detail by detail in between the ridges)

Jane and Jon were convicted of 4 out of 5 counts charged against them; the one count unable to draw a conviction was that of felons in possession of a weapon (a pistol used in one of the beatings). The handgun was never found. It is believed that Jane and John were able to get rid of that and a lot of other evidence from the bedroom before their arrest. But as we know they didn’t get rid of everything.

Joshua Bergeron
Forensic Scientist II
Minnesota BCA

The "Advanced Latent Print Demonstrations" course teaches latent print examiners the Adobe Photo Shop tools necessary to complete dynamic presentations like that above.  To enroll in one of these courses, visit the ALPD course page in the Training section of CLPEX.com or stay tuned to the Weekly Detail for announcements of upcoming courses.  I am currently in the process of scheduling a course with the Georgia Division of the IAI in Atlanta, and I am looking for host agencies in California, Texas, and Florida. 


Discuss fingerprint-related issues
on the CLPEX
message board off the homepage of the website, or at (http://www.clpex.com/phpBB/viewforum.php?f=2)

And as usual, the onin.com forum (http://onin.com/fp/wwwbd/) is also available for more formal latent print-related discussions.

For discussions with an international flair, check out Dave Charlton's forum at: http://charlton97.proboards12.com/index.cgi



"However, not all children will be fingerprinted, as the finger printing is suitable for children aged five years and older. This is because the fingerprints of younger kids are still developing and undergoing change."

Thanks, Jon Stimac for this week's Funny Fingerprint Find!


UPDATES on CLPEX.com this week...

Updated the ALPD Training page

Updated the Newzroom

Feel free to pass The Detail along to other examiners.  This is a free newsletter 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!