Can fingerprints play a crucial role in solving any criminal case? Well, we can think of this because the technology has been much faster than before and even a single needle can expose the main culprits then why not fingerprints.
Although we have got so many new skills and technology in the present time there was a time when these things were just like rocket science. Many cases in the past were so easy to solve but they took time due to the lack of proper knowledge and discoveries.
Here, we are going to discuss the top 5 cases solved in the United States with the help of fingerprints either related to the victim or the culprit. Some cases, given here, were so easy to solve but due to the lack of proper knowledge at the time, the procedure took more time.
Cases Solved Using Fingerprints
1) Murder Case of Clarence Hiller
It was after 2:00 a.m. on the night of September 19, 1910, when the murder case of Clarence Hiller was solved by the fingerprints of a burglar and his murderer. Hiller was a railroad clerk who woke up to the screams of his wife and daughter when he confronted two men after a scheme of robberies in his house at 1837 West 104th Street in Chicago.
Hiller was shot by the running men who left him dying by the front door. During the investigation, the investigators found a fresh fingerprint on the railing of the window of Hiller’s house. They presumed It to be related to one of the two burglar men. It made new evidence discovered in the court trial room.
The fingerprint was of Thomas Jennings an African American man who had been paroled six weeks earlier. His lawyers raised questions about his fingerprints. They said that it was not related to Thomas and tried everything to disprove the theory of fingerprints.
His hand accidentally rested upon the freshly painted railing at Hiller’s house making the way for the investigators easily to catch him.
After Thomas’s conviction, the Illinois supreme court found him guilty of the murder of Clarence Hiller and sentenced him to death. If we look at this case at present, we would find that it was a simple case but due to the lack of proper knowledge and discovery of forensics and fingerprints the case took a little more time to solve.
2) Murder Case Of Carla Lowe
Foster+Freeman’s Recover Latent Fingerprint Technology was the weapon that showed the brutal murder case of Carla Lowe. She was beaten to death in the middle of the road on November 13, 1983. It was found that she died from blunt force trauma.
The police always doubted Ralph Williams but there was insufficient evidence to prove him guilty. It was Todd Clancy who solely solved the murder case with the fresh fingerprint technology. The investigators retrieved the fingerprints with this technology when they were unable to retrieve them 38 years ago.
Clancy had gone through the difficult times and he explained about the efforts he had done to get a piece of evidence.
The use of the technology gave them success and the real culprit came out in the picture that was Williams. During the questioning, he admitted that he did not remember which weapon he used to kill Lowe. At last, he was charged with the murder of Carla Lowe.
Finally, the cold murder case of Carla Lowe got solved with the use of the newly discovered technology. We, at present time, would say that the case was very much easy to solve but at that time, when there was no proper technology and skills discovered, it was rocket science.
3) Murder Mystery Of Carroll Bonnet
Carroll Bonnet was stabbed to death in his apartment in 1978 in Nebraska at the age of 61 years old at the time. It was found from the investigation that the killer was trying to wash off the blood and remove other evidence too. But the police collected whatso ever evidence including fingerprints and palmprints were found from his bathroom.
The victim’s car was stolen after some time and was found in Illinois. The investigators tried to match every possible evidence and the latent prints recovered from the crime scene and the car. They also matched it with the state fingerprint file and send the fingerprint request outside the city but everything was in vain. The investigators were not getting any leads and every possible thing seems to be wasted.
Finally, in 2008 the case was reopened and was solved by the two employees of the Omaha Police Department-Detective Douglas Herout and Senior Crime Laboratory Technician Laura Casey. The prints were searched again with a new automated biometric technology that was unavailable in 1978 after the Criminal Laboratories Services Section of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) learned that this case remained unsolved.
Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) responded with a list of possible candidates that matched the fingerprint in less than 5 hours. Some more days were used in identifying the possible and positive match for the fingerprint and the main culprit came out to be Jerry Watson. He was serving time in prison in Illinois for burglary charges.
The case was reopened again and Jerry was interviewed by the detectives. He first denied his involvement in the murder but everything got cleared out after his DNA matched with the fingerprint. He was charged with the murder of Carroll Bonnet and sentenced to life in prison.
4) Murder Case Of Lucille Johnson
Lucille Johnson, a grandmother, close to her eighties was strangled and beaten to death in her home in 1991. Due to the lack of proper invention and knowledge of DNA testing, forensics, and fingerprint technology, her case remained unsolved.
There was no advancement and proper technology in forensic and fingerprint science at the time of her murder. Due to this reason, her case was shut and everyone lost the hope to catch the real culprit.
The case was finally reopened by the investigators of Salt Lake City’s unified Police Department. After the reopening of the case, the investigation began and they tried to collect all the proper evidence they could.
They first identified and collected the tissue samples underneath her fingernails and sent them for investigation. The strewn and waste material was collected nearby her room and sent for further investigation to know any other fingerprints or DNA sequences.
The fingerprint belonged to the 5-year-old son of Johnny Sansing, 47 who is currently serving the sentence in Arizona prison for a similar murder. His son was traumatized and depressed for a very long time and finally confessed the truth before the investigators. He also confessed that he was also taken by his father to the Arizona killing.
He was then charged with the murder of Lucille Johnson. At last, the family members of Johnson were happy that the case was finally solved and the real culprit caught by the investigators even after so many years.
5) Murder Of Grace Hayden
Grace Hayden, 79, was raped and killed in San Diego in May 1987, said Erich Hackney, investigator of the Robeson County, North Carolina. The case was reopened by Tony Johnson, a San Diego district attorney investigator who found a single fingerprint of left thumb on her kitchen stove.
He submitted this fingerprint in the fingerprint database to get information regarding this and fortunately the fingerprint got matched to a 62-year-old Kevin Ford of Robeson County.
In 2015, a warrant was released against him for committing a series of threats. John Blount, deputy officer at that time decided to get his fingerprint, and hence the fingerprint found on the kitchen stove could be able to match with this fingerprint from the database.
The prosecutors and other investigators praised Blount for his intelligence to go beyond the thinking level. After the investigation is done, trials got started and Ford appeared before the Robeson County District Court and was extradited to San Diego.
Although, he first denied every allegation put against him but later admitted to his crime. He said that he would be handcuffed soon but he did not know that it would be too soon. He was arraigned for the charges of rape, murder, and burglary and was sentenced to life without parole.