Detail Archives    Discuss This Issue    Subscribe to The Detail Fingerprint News Archive       Search Past Details

G o o d   M o r n i n g !
Monday, October 27, 2008

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.
Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
by Kasey Wertheim
Fingerprints rarely make case
Muskogee Daily Phoenix, OK - Oct 26, 2008
...Over the last 25 years, I personally only had a couple of cases where a print linked a suspect to the scene...
Police Intern Solves 1972 Murder; Suspect Arrested
AHN - Oct 23, 2008
Police found fingerprints on the crime scene but there was no national fingerprint database at the time to match the prints. ...
Robber steals fistfuls of cash, leaves thumb behind, CA - Oct 23, 2008
A robber stole fistfuls of cash from an alleged brothel but left his thumb behind. A man suspected in an armed robbery at an alleged brothel in Washington's ...
Chief Bratton on Fingerprint Mishaps: 'We Screwed Up'
LAist, CA - Oct 21, 2008
Bratton, who emphasized that no case is solely based on fingerprints, has now convened a group of experts to form a taskforce on the issue...

Recent CLPEX Posting Activity
Last Week's Board topics containing new posts
Moderated by Steve Everist and Charlie Parker

Public CLPEX Message Board
Moderated by Steve Everist

The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
1, 2 by Boyd Baumgartner on Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:17 am 15 Replies 364 Views Last post by Gerald Clough
on Sun Oct 26, 2008 8:38 am

An intern solves a cold case homicide?
by ltorres on Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:07 pm 1 Replies 98 Views Last post by Gerald Clough
on Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:53 pm

Evidence Fabrication in South Africa
1 ... 19, 20, 21by Pat A. Wertheim on Fri Nov 30, 2007 12:48 pm 305 Replies 34422 Views Last post by Truthseeker
on Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:36 pm

Bayesian Statistics
by Dan Perkins on Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:22 am 1 Replies 57 Views Last post by Gerald Clough
on Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:24 am

Carbon paper??
by nlarsen on Thu May 01, 2008 11:15 am 10 Replies 922 Views Last post by sharon cook
on Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:54 am

RUVIS focusing issue
by MitchVFL on Wed Oct 22, 2008 10:11 am 2 Replies 79 Views Last post by antonroland
on Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:36 am

The merits of photographing a latent at 1000 ppi
1, 2, 3 by antonroland on Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:27 am 33 Replies 464 Views Last post by antonroland
on Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:54 am

T-model (statistical approach)
by D. Tivin on Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:00 pm 2 Replies 114 Views Last post by D. Tivin
on Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:09 pm

Photoshop CS3 Class
by Phyllis on Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:10 pm 0 Replies 79 Views Last post by Phyllis
on Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:10 pm

Microwavable Fingerprints?
by josher89 on Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:37 am 1 Replies 132 Views Last post by sharon cook
on Wed Oct 22, 2008 3:26 pm

McKie/Y7 Public Judicial Inquiry under way
by Outsider on Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:36 am 5 Replies 242 Views Last post by Iain McKie
on Wed Oct 22, 2008 3:02 pm

Fingerprint Fraud in Hartford CT?
by L.J.Steele on Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:24 am 7 Replies 374 Views Last post by Gerald Clough
on Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:11 am

LAPD Fingerprint Mistake
by Dennis Degler on Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:40 am 6 Replies 647 Views Last post by Dennis Degler
on Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:39 am

Is Latent Print Evidence Infallible
by Big Wullie on Thu Aug 28, 2008 7:40 pm 8 Replies 643 Views Last post by kevin
on Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:12 am

Fingerprint Fraud in Hartford CT?
by L.J.Steele on Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:24 am 0 Replies 88 Views Last post by L.J.Steele
on Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:24 am
IAI Conference Topics -
Louisville, Kentucky 2008:
Moderator: Steve Everist

No new posts

Documentation issues as they apply to latent prints
Moderator: Charles Parker

No new posts

Historical topics related to latent print examination
Moderator: Charles Parker

No new posts



Updated the Fingerprint Interest Group (FIG) page with FIG #67; a really neat example of Post Deposition Destruction (PDD) of ridge detail by a shoe impression; submitted by Sandy Siegel of TX.  You can send your example of unique distortion to Charlie Parker:  For discussion, visit the forum FIG thread.

Updated the forum Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony (KEPT) thread with KEPT #41; Weight of Characteristics - Do some characteristics have more weight than others?; submitted by Michelle Triplett.  You can send your questions on courtroom topics to Michelle Triplett:

Updated the Detail Archives

Last week

we looked at how IAFIS searches are returning close look-alikes that can get uncareful examiners in trouble.

This week

we look at an interesting thread on the forum.

The Merits of Putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
Thread started by Boyd Baumgartner on Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:17 am

fauldspumpkin.jpg (113.16 KiB) Viewed 758 times

Boyd Baumgartner


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by Ann Horsman on Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:05 am

Neato! Did you carve it?



Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by Boyd Baumgartner on Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 am

No, I didn't carve it. Let's just say that I got a lot out of George Reis' book "Photoshop CS3 for Forensics Professionals"

Boyd Baumgartner


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by Gerald Clough on Wed Oct 22, 2008 9:00 am

Somehow, not as appetizing as the traditional baked goods...


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by sharon cook on Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:54 am

Is it real or is it Photoshopped? You know the old saying, "Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear"? Well, they didn't know about Photoshop, did they? If it's real...COOO-UL!

sharon cook


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by Pat A. Wertheim on Wed Oct 22, 2008 1:21 pm

If Faulds was a punkin' head, what did that make Galton? (Come on, Boyd, show us!)

Pat A. Wertheim


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by Boyd Baumgartner on Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:16 pm

GS.jpg (40.74 KiB) Viewed 398 times

Boyd Baumgartner


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by Pat A. Wertheim on Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:57 pm


Pat A. Wertheim


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by antonroland on Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:55 am

I get the idea that Sir Francis is not liked by all


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by Pat A. Wertheim on Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:49 am

Henry Faulds speculated on the individuality of fingerprints, and on the possibility of developing marks at scenes of crimes that could be identified to the criminals. He approached Charles Darwin with his ideas and sought Darwin's advice. Darwin was busy working on his theory of evolution and passed on Faulds' ideas to his (Darwin's) cousin, Francis Galton. Galton combined Darwin's theory with Faulds' ideas and developed his own bizarre hypothesis -- Galton believed fingerprints could be used by eugenicists to select the best breeding stock for developing a superior strain of humans. There are those who doubt that Galton ever fully comprehended the concepts that we use today for personal identification. But Galton was an English aristocrat and Faulds was a Scottish commoner. Galton could publish and his work would gain immediate acceptance. Faulds, by virtue of his birth, could never enjoy such credibility. Galton's ideas on eugenics have been largely forgotten and his contribution to modern fingerprint useage has been cleansed by history. Faulds deserves credit for the idea that lead to our science, not Galton.

Pat A. Wertheim


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by Gerald Clough on Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:13 pm

On the other hand, Galton gets spattered with bile in retrospect for pursuing a line of inquiry that, for many reasons, seemed reasonable at the time and amenable to application of emerging knowledge, certainly not bizarre, given the breadth of speculations of implications spun around Darwin's work. Along the way, he established the basis for even the current attempts to quantify issues that become increasingly important and made him rather the go-to guy for research supporting Fauld's correct conclusions and practical demonstration of how fingerprints could be used in criminal matters. His social status meant he had the opportunities to acquire a broad education and the leisure to apply it. It's remarkable that he carried out his inquiries to the point of developing means of researching so many different aspects of issues and doing far more than merely pushing prospective conclusions by the weight of his standing. Social position ultimately had a lot to do with credibility, but Galton's credibility was far from entirely on account of his class. Nor was Fauld's credibility with regard to practical application entirely due to his class. We could not reasonably denigrate Faulds because he was busy making a living as he made astute observations and proposed practical applications or that he wasn't the shear intellectual equal of Galton, but nothing diminishes Galton - not the fact that he didn't spontaneously focus on identification nor for not concluding eugenics was a false trail or that it would one day fall so far on the negative side of social issues that were beginning to be explored. Nor is Fauld's credit for observation and insight reduced by his wrangling with Herschel over the petty issue of who made first official use of fingerprints or his bitterness over lack of social or monetary payday for it.

Gerald Clough


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by antonroland on Sat Oct 25, 2008 1:23 pm


I have always liked the balanced and well considered arguments you pose (even here) but I must admit to siding with Pat on this one.

It is indeed also a pity that Fauld turned out to be the bitter disillusioned man he is said to have been but at least Galton also got what he had coming thanks to Henry who worked Galton over in turn.

We could nearly turn some of this into a soapie mind you


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by Charles Parker on Sat Oct 25, 2008 3:42 pm

Anton, what did Henry do to work Galton over?

Charles Parker


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by Gerald Clough on Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:06 pm

I can't imagine. Henry made it into he Athenaeum Club well before Galton, of Darwin, for that matter, and was dead before either was inducted. Unless it means that Henry got his name more firmly attached to practical fingerprint work than did Galton.

The whole argument over the roles of the players, Herschel, Henry, Galton, and Faulds, is peculiar for drawing partisan supporters, then and now. They all played roles. Faulds made some remarkable observations, recognizing that fingerprints on pottery suggested one potter had left his impressions on many pieces, something that's now being used with good effect to deduce trade patterns from examinations of fingerprints on ancient pottery found in different areas. At least one of his "cases" was misunderstood early and later corrected by him to explain that the comparison was made by hand shape, not fingerprint patterns, the mark having none. Faulds himself, writing in his later years for publication (see 1911 article in Scientific American), explains the intent of his letter to Darwin, the one Darwin passed to Galton. His intent was that Darwin help him obtain prints of other primates to help in settling questions of man's descent, nothing more. It no doubt struck him as potentially important evidence through which he would make a contribution to Darwin's field. It shows an active interest in Darwin's ideas, not unexpected in someone who was clearly possessed of an active mind.

Faulds' lack of success in exciting the police about fingerprints is entirely understandable, with no need to cite relative social status. His proposal could not but be something like the idea of ear prints put forth today. Lack of science, making it unlikely it would pass legal muster. (Tunbridge specifically told Faulds fingerprints would likely require new legislation.) In that same article, Faulds says that when he wrote to Darwin he had found no biological or anatomical literature on the subject. But Perkinje had described friction ridges in 1823 as an anatomical feature. Faulds, being an intelligent observer but not a member of the scientific community would have no way of knowing this. And being neither a formal scientist nor a legal practitioner, he would not have been aware of what was required, even then, to bring fingerprints into the justice system. The ear print idea has met no better success. With this perspective, it may well have seemed to Faulds that Tunbridge was merely making excuses.

When you read their own words, no matter what one may think of Galton otherwise, Faulds demonstrated a bitter small-mindedness when he pretended to recount the history of the progress of fingerprints from notion to legal evidence. His only mentions of Galton are to cite 1888 as the year Galton began his researches and to quote Darwin's reply to his letter to put the smoking gun in Galton's hand.

One cannot take Faulds out of the development of fingerprints as a criminal justice tool. It had to be a factor in Galton's interest. Not just the letter passing through Galton's hand. It's return to him by the Royal Society, which apparently surprised him, since he had nearly forgotten it, would have helped bring the idea to mind. There's a fashion in casting Faulds as a poor victim, which by implication makes others the villains. It's easy to think of him as the fingerprint pioneer who was so denied credit that no memorial was, until recently, maintained. But Henry was never denied as a major player, and his grave went untended until the Society acted in the 1990's. No one can be credited with "inventing" fingerprinting. It's not even an interesting plot to deny credit, except in the minds of inventive authors. And, of course, in the mind of poor Faulds. There have been enough issues raised about Beavans' account to at least reserve judgment.

Gerald Clough


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by antonroland on Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:01 am

It has been a while since last I read the books I am now referring to but having read Colin Beavan's book, Cole's Suspect identities and a few others, I got the idea that when Henry finally proposed the idea to implement fingerprints at Scotland Yard, Lady Francis was waiting in the wings on Henry to give all credit as yet another accomplishment of the dandy old FRS.

This did not happen. Henry got his post and recognition for "his" great work and Lady Francis felt cheated...Must admit to this being heavily fueled by personal opinion but I quite frankly don't have much regard for either Galton or Henry.

Henry also worked over Inzamaam ul-Haque and Mahem Chandra Bose in claiming that their work came to him in a great flash of inspiration at night whilst en-route on a train in India(?)

He had no way but to write it on his sleeve in fear of forgetting...yeah right.

It was this basic primary, secondary and sub-secondary that made the "Henry" classification" system practical in the sense of it being a workable collection rather than a huge collection of useless information.

If Henry could do this to ul-Haque and Bose, why would he not do it to Galton?

Slightly O/T but relevant methinks...who was REALLY first to reach the summit of Everest? The great explorer, Sir Edmund Hillary or the lowly guide, Tensing Norkay?

Why the deafening silence on that point all these years since?

As said, I admit to being ever so slightly subjective here but I don't think I am that far off the mark.


Re: The merits of putting Henry Faulds on a Pumpkin
by Gerald Clough on Sun Oct 26, 2008 8:38 am

I suppose that's why it's hard to sort out in retrospect. People worry so much about "firsts." And, so often, it's nothing more than who had something named for them, happened to write the first paper, or as on Everest, just happened to be taking one's turn in the lead when the next ridge turned out to be the peak. And it does take some work to try to warm up to a lot of Victorian figures. When you combine the general neurotic rigidity, the lack of the sort of automatic time-marking that today tends to settle issues of precedence, the first existence of a science-aware, significant, and competitive press to air controversy, and the feeling that scientific discovery was now terribly important to the common man who would eventually benefit in practical ways, you get an environment just made for wrangling.

It might be interesting to compile a list of named places, processes, and things named not for the person who discovered them but for whoever brought them to attention. Very often, the person whose name attached never claimed credit or even disavowed credit but was stuck it.


The conversation continues on the forum...

KEPT - Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony - #41
by Michele Triplett, King County Sheriff's Office


Disclaimer:  The intent of this is to provide thought provoking discussion.  No claims of accuracy exist. 


Question Ė Weight of Characteristics:

Do some characteristics have more weight than others?


Possible Answers:

a)      No, equal weight is given to each characteristic.

b)      Yes, some characteristics do occur less often than others. Even though some characteristics are less common than others they may be very common in some people or families.  As an example, many people have no incipient ridges but people who have incipient ridges seem to have a large number of them.

c)      Yes, some characteristics are rarer than others.

d)     Yes, some characteristics may be rarer than others and some may be rarer in certain areas of a print.  For example, multiple enclosures are fairly rare to see but if did see them then Iíd expect it to have come from the bottom part of a whorl.



Answer a:  Some agencies have an administrative point standard and others donít.  While we know that thereís no scientific support behind using any specific number of characteristics, itís not always bad for agencies to implement this type of quality assurance measure.  If an agency does implement a point standard itís important for the examiners not to confuse this as meaning that all characteristics are given the same weight.  Some characteristics are very rare and other times just the shape of a certain characteristic may be rare.  The rarity of the characteristic or the rarity of the shape can add or subtract from the weight given to this characteristic.

Answer b:  We commonly use characteristics to identify or eliminate someone as leaving a latent print but itís interesting to note that we may also use common or rare features as a searching tool.

Answer c:  Thereís nothing wrong with the simple answer to this question.

Answer d:  This is another example of how we use certain characteristics in searching and orienting a latent print, not only to identify who left the image.



Feel free to pass The Detail along to other examiners.  This is a free newsletter FOR latent print examiners, BY latent print examiners. With the exception of weeks such as this week, there are no copyrights on The Detail content.  As always, the website is open for all to visit!

If you have not yet signed up to receive the Weekly Detail in YOUR e-mail inbox, go ahead and join the list now so you don't miss out!  (To join this free e-mail newsletter, enter your name and e-mail address on the following page:  You will be sent a Confirmation e-mail... just click on the link in that e-mail, or paste it into an Internet Explorer address bar, and you are signed up!)  If you have problems receiving the Detail from a work e-mail address, there have been past issues with department e-mail filters considering the Detail as potential unsolicited e-mail.  Try subscribing from a home e-mail address or contact your IT department to allow e-mails from Topica.  Members may unsubscribe at any time.  If you have difficulties with the sign-up process or have been inadvertently removed from the list, e-mail me personally at and I will try to work things out.

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

Have a GREAT week!