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NCJ Number: 201260 Find in a Library
Title: IAFIS Fingerprint Search Solves 45-Year-Old Double Police Officer Murder
Journal: Journal of Forensic Identification  Volume:53  Issue:4  Dated:July/August 2003  Pages:397-403
Author(s): William F. Leo; Steven Tillmann
Date Published: July 2003
Page Count: 7
Type: Case Study
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article presents the history of a 45-year-old murder of two police officers that was eventually cleared largely due to a fingerprint match from access to the FBI's IAFIS.
Abstract: On July 22, 1957, in Los Angeles County, a lone man approached a vehicle inhabited by four teens parked at a "lovers' lane." He robbed them, raped one of the girls, and fled the scene in the vehicle. Shortly after the incident, a police patrol unit stopped the vehicle in a routine traffic stop for running a red light. The man shot and killed the two officers and abandoned the vehicle nearby. Matching partial prints were obtained from the steering wheel and a chrome strip. The handgun used in the crime was recovered during a search of the neighborhood. Based on witnesses' descriptions (White male, 25-30 years old), composite drawings were developed and distributed in a wanted bulletin. For the next 45 years, detectives from the El Segundo Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department pursued the suspect. Over this period, the latent print section of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) had received newly developed suspects, compared the prints in the case, and reported non-identifications. This changed when the LASD received access to the FBI's IAFIS, which contains the fingerprints of some 30 million criminals. The composite print was digitally replicated and electronically submitted to IAFIS, and a match was found. An exemplar card from a January 21, 1956, arrest in South Carolina yielded the suspect's prints for the database. The fingerprints belonged to Gerald F. Mason, a now 68-year-old White male. Based on the print match, evidence related to the gun purchase, and the identification of three surviving witnesses, Mason pled guilty to the murders and was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. 6 figures
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Automated fingerprint processing; Fingerprints; Interagency cooperation; Investigative techniques; Latent fingerprints; Murder; Murderers; Police deaths
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