Police across the U.S. would likely solve cold murder and rape cases if they entered finger and palm prints from older crimes into an upgraded national database, a move the FBI encourages, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. In Cleveland, re-submitting prints has resulted in charges in at least two unsolved rape cases, so far. Investigators linked Rafiq Jones to a rape and robbery case last year after a fingerprint lifted from a beer bottle in 1996 was matched the to the 40-year-old. His case is set for trial next week. In another case, Javier Colon pleaded guilty to raping a woman and shooting her son a decade ago, after an investigator from Cuyahoga County’s Sexual Assault Kit task force worked with Cleveland police to re-submit a palm print left on the trunk of a car Colon commandeered and used to kidnap the pair from a downtown parking lot. It matched Colon’s.
Entering old prints has helped solve cases elsewhere too. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, as part of a cold case project, was able to identify more than 150 prints from crime scenes, including the print of a man later arrested in 2014 for the rape and killing of Amber Creek, a 14-year-old who ran away from a Chicago shelter in 1997 and was found strangled in a remote area of Wisconsin. The FBI first asked law enforcement agencies in mid-2013 to re-submit crime scene prints that in the past did not turn up matches to suspects. That’s because the agency upgraded the system used to store and match finger and palm prints. The upgrade included new software that could more sensitively match the swirls and ridges on latent or crime scene prints with prints collected during an arrest. Using the new system, matches were up to three times more likely.