Family members of women believed to have been murdered by a suspected serial killer are outraged that the FBI bungled fingerprint tests, allowing the suspect to be released from jail, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Jeremy Brian Jones, 32, is suspected of having committed more than 20 murders dating to 1996. Four of those killings took place, authorities suspect, after Jones was released from jails in two counties because the FBI failed to match his fingerprints with those on file in the bureau’s national database. A proper fingerprint match would have kept Jones in jail, FBI officials acknowledged.
Rob Endres, the husband of hairdresser Patrice Endres, whom police said Jones admitted to killing in April 2004, said such a lapse is unacceptable, especially with the growing threat of terrorism. It’s not clear how often such mistakes happen, but Simon Cole, a professor at the University of California-Irvine who specializes in technology, has raised questions about the accuracy of fingerprint evidence. While researching a book, “Suspect Identities,” Cole discovered at least two other cases in which people charged with murders eluded detection by fingerprint. Cole said his study of automated fingerprint systems leads him to believe there are other such cases.