Unsolved Case Fingerprint Matching.
In July 1999, the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) became operational. IAFIS provides five key services: 10-print services, subject search and criminal history request services, document and image searches, remote search services, and latent print services. In its first 6 months of operation, IAFIS reduced the FBI's criminal 10-print processing time from 45 days to less than 2 hours. The system also introduced a number of new tools that were previously not available.
To demonstrate the IAFIS latent print search technique, the FBI encouraged law enforcement representatives who attended the July 2000 International Association of Identification (IAI) meeting in Charleston, West Virginia, to bring with them any latent fingerprint evidence from unsolved cases so that the prints could be run against the FBI's criminal database of 4l million entries for a match. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) took up the challenge and brought a print collected from a rape scene. Although the GBI concurred with officers from the Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, Police Department (PPPD) that the suspect was likely a serial criminal because of investigative similarities to rape cases in Georgia and Wisconsin that had been matched by DNA testing, neither agency had identified a suspect. After the unsolved case print was scanned in, a search of IAFIS was completed in less than 10 minutes. This search produced a potential subject for the GBI and the PPPD to consider.
IAFIS is a remarkable use of technology. With IAFIS, the FBI replaced a 64-year-old fingerprint identification process that was not serving law enforcement needs with a system that provides timely and accurate identification services in a paperless environment. IAFIS makes finding the proverbial needle in the haystack not only possible, but easy. Its vast computing power examines the characteristics of fingerprints submitted by law enforcement officers across the United States, converts them to searchable code, and adds them to the current criminal database of some 41 million entries. When a department requests a latent search, IAFIS searches the characteristics of the latent against the criminal database for a possible match. Because each entry in the database includes all 10 fingers, the comparative process proves somewhat more tedious than might be expected because the search must run against all 10 fingers of the various entries. Nevertheless, the technical ability to search this large group of known fin gerprint specimens allows for a previously unidentified piece of evidence, in some cases a bloody print, to be matched with the name of a person in the FBI's criminal records. This identification provides a new course for investigators to explore and the possible means to bring criminals to justice before they can strike again.
In the previously discussed serial rape case, the PPPD contacted the GBI because they noted common characteristics in rapes in Wisconsin and Georgia. The PPPD sent fingerprint and DNA samples for examination. Through DNA testing, the GBI tied those two rapes to a rape in Florence, Kentucky, but they still had not identified the individual responsible. The GBI provided the Wisconsin print for examination at the IAI meeting after their exhaustive investigation efforts with the PPPD, including a requested subject analysis by the FBI's Violent Crime Apprehension Program (VICAP), had yielded no viable leads. In a few minutes, the search produced the name of a suspect from Georgia. The victims worked as clerks at retail strip malls near interstates. The suspect was located in jail at Lawrenceville, Georgia, where he was being held on an unrelated crime. The GBI was granted a search warrant to obtain a blood sample. Although he denied any involvement in the murders, his blood was matched to DNA samples from the seri al rapes. A few days after the sample was taken, he hanged himself in his jail cell with a bed sheet. He implicated himself in other rapes before his death. Efforts continue to resolve these claims.
The lessons from this investigation demonstrate the value of the IAFIS latent search technique. In spite of exhaustive investigate efforts, neither the GBI, PPPD, DNA testing, nor the FBI's National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) were able to identify a suspect for these serial crimes. The IAFIS technique undoubtedly prevented further violent acts, a major step forward in investigative techniques from the 1935 standard. Law enforcement officers are encouraged to review unsolved pending and closed investigative files to identify latent fingerprints that they can submit to CJIS for a latent print services comparison.