Fingerprint Evidence


Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Other Suspects: Fingerprint Evidence

By Glen Claston (dialup-209.244.92.125.dallas1.level3.net - 209.244.92.125) on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 10:22 pm:

I posted this question several months ago, just before my move, so I never got to see the responses. Here it is again.....


The FOIA files contain a letter which states that there are 38 latent fingerprints on file in the Zodiac case. I believe they were checked against existing files again as late as 1991. If this is truly the case, it makes my line of questioning manifold, so to spare the questions and inform myself well enough to ask questions intelligently, does anybody have any idea of when and where these 38 prints were gathered, and of what relevance they could be to this case?

By Jake (spider-ti013.proxy.aol.com - 152.163.194.178) on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 11:01 pm:

Glen asked:
"does anybody have any idea of when and where these 38 prints were
gathered, and of what relevance they could be to this case?"

Here are the prints I know of. I'd love to hear if I'm missing any.

A) Palmprint found at Riverside (regardless of whether this was a Zodiac murder, it may have been thought to be one when letter you mentioned was written);

B) More than one print on the second Times-Herald letter of August '69;

C) Palm- and fingerprints at the Napa phone booth;

D) At least two prints in or on the cab at Washington & Cherry.

While these vague quantities don't add up to 38 prints, they do beg the inference that Z was not the genius supervillain that he is sometimes described as. Those are still a lot of prints for someone who claimed to be using airplane glue.

--Jake
http://members.aol.com
"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Tom Voigt (ac8a01a0.ipt.aol.com - 172.138.1.160) on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 11:38 pm:

Napa recovered a bunch of prints, both from the Ghia and the phone booth.

By Glen Claston (dialup-209.246.130.197.dallas1.level3.net - 209.246.130.197) on Saturday, August 19, 2000 - 12:58 am:

I really didn't want to get into the manifold question arena, but simply put, doesn't the presence of prints on letters and at crime scenes cause certain problems for any theory? (Prints on envelopes/letters, especially?)

Suspect prints are on file, newspaper worker's prints are on file, virtually everyone who could have possibly handled the evidence has prints on file, yet the prints don't match. A later check means that military prints don't match either.

According to this letter, there are 38 prints on file in this case. The one thing that's for sure is that IF even one of these prints is Z's print, he wasn't military, he wasn't civil servant, he wasn't even one of the 2,500+ suspects.

Is this a critical piece of information in need of review, or am I just barking up a tree and missing something here?

By Mike (spider-wk082.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.198.187) on Saturday, August 19, 2000 - 07:21 am:

In reading the FOIA info in apbonline, there is also a reference to prints having been lifted from a letter, apparently the July 1970 "Johns" letter. I do not know if such prints were actually found, since there is little or no talk of them today, but they are mentioned in the 1000+ pages of documents released last year.

Mike

By Edward (adsl-63-204-74-230.dsl.scrm01.pacbell.net - 63.204.74.230) on Saturday, August 19, 2000 - 09:39 am:

Glen, regarding Z's prints and him not being military or civil servant based on the fact that they haven't found a match in the state's computerized fingerprint database: we can't be sure that ALL the prints made it into the computer database for EVERY military/civil servant after they started adding those at CI&I. Just as we can't really be sure that any of the prints recovered were Zodiac's. Bureaucracy being what it is, I'm sure many boxes of serviceman's records/fingerprint files were either shipped elsewhere or inadvertently destroyed.

And as for the prints from Hartnell's Ghia at Lake Berryessa, I seem to remember a news story years ago that they had tried to recover them off the door that Zodiac had written on (which had been saved for evidence) with a special new laser technique, to no avail.

By Jake (spider-wa064.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.192.49) on Saturday, August 19, 2000 - 06:48 pm:

Edward wrote:
"Glen, regarding Z's prints and him not being military or civil servant based on the fact that they haven't found a match in the state's computerized fingerprint database: we can't be sure that ALL the prints made it into the computer database for EVERY military/civil servant after they started adding those at CI&I."

Apparently, there was a big fire at a St. Louis military records facility in '78 that destroyed thousands of old files, fingerprint records among them.

The chances of one's fingerprints not being logged into the proper files also increase if the subject is intent on bucking the system. I've never had a job that required my prints, but I've heard that oftentimes the prints are submitted at leisure, meaning you could take the card home and, in theory, get your sister to put her prints on it. Depending on the occupation, I'll bet it would be pretty easy to pull a fast one.

--Jake
http://members.aol.com/Jakewark/index.html
"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Douglas Oswell (47.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.17.47) on Saturday, August 19, 2000 - 08:53 pm:

The FBI files contain a document that states that the primary fingerprint used for comparison purposes was that taken from the lower finger or palm. See page 22 of part 6, PDF files on the APB site. Pertinent quote is as follows:

A latent impression, which is either a fingerprint from the lower joint area of a finger or a palm print, compared available fingerprints of these individuals, but no identification effected. Impressions of lower joint areas of the fingers and palm prints of these individuals not contained Identification Division files.

By Mike (spider-tk011.proxy.aol.com - 152.163.206.176) on Sunday, August 20, 2000 - 08:53 am:

Hi Jake-

I heard a very funny story about the St. Louis fire. Maybe it was on one of these boards a long time ago. It seems that when ANY service records turn up missing or misplaced, they are immediately said to have been "burned in the St. Louis fire". In other words, I think that the fire is used as a convenient excuse for any bungling, misplacement, etc., of military records! And if not, it is still a good story! ;)

Mike

By Sandy (c531918-a.ptbrg1.sfba.home.com - 24.176.152.45) on Sunday, August 20, 2000 - 06:03 pm:

Did the police take "whole hand" prints of any suspects we have spoken of? If so, which suspects?If Allen was such a good suspect for the VPD, couldn't they get both of his entire hand prints before he was buried? I was told that DNA was found on some of the letters,anyone know if that is true or not? I saw L.K.s prints,they were just the regular ends of his fingers. Only one of my suspects R.H.(not Robin Hood)has never been in the military, or arrested, as far as I could find, I checked all but Riverside (they didn't understand the Freedom of Information Act). Sandy

By Michael (sdn-ar-002payorkp139.dialsprint.net - 158.252.14.203) on Sunday, August 20, 2000 - 06:50 pm:

All convicted criminals and all felony arrestee's at least in Calif. Have a full set of case prints taken. This includes a regular 10 print set and both palms. So any of the suspects with felony records should have a complete set on file somewhere. As to latent prints the fact that latents are found and not matched comes really as no suprise, a suspect match from latents is actually pretty rare. and besides latent prints under some conditions can last for years.

just something to think about

Michael

By sandy (c531918-a.ptbrg1.sfba.home.com - 24.176.152.45) on Sunday, August 20, 2000 - 10:41 pm:

Michael, will a full set of prints with the palm, include the fingers from top to bottom?Or do they take the tips of the fingers and then the palm without the fingers? I know the palm prints from the phone booth weren't good,they were too wet when dusted.I wonder if the palm print at Riverside is a good one? Thank you, Sandy

By Ken (pppa62-resaleburlingtonnc1-1r7137.saturn.bbn.com - 4.54.18.91) on Monday, August 21, 2000 - 07:18 am:

Sandy,
From what I has heard, there is not useable DNA from any of the letters. I read that there was some from the "fake" 1978 letter but I think I read later that it was not usable either.

By Michael (ip133.lancaster5.pa.pub-ip.psi.net - 38.32.27.133) on Monday, August 21, 2000 - 01:40 pm:

Sandy, when palm prints are rolled the card is placed on a tube and the hand is rolled getting the print from the figertips to the wrist.

Michael

By sandy (c531918-a.ptbrg1.sfba.home.com - 24.176.152.45) on Monday, August 21, 2000 - 07:26 pm:

Thank you Michael, Was it done the same way back in the 60s? Sandy

By Michael (ip119.lancaster5.pa.pub-ip.psi.net - 38.32.27.119) on Tuesday, August 22, 2000 - 01:14 pm:

Sandy, I really dont know, perhaps Bill could throw some light on this By the late 70's this was SOP

Michael

By Bill Baker (pool0209.cvx5-bradley.dialup.earthlink.net - 209.178.152.209) on Tuesday, August 22, 2000 - 06:29 pm:

Since you asked . . . I started with the department in 1966 and, to my knowledge, our agency was just as progressive (or lack thereof) as other agencies in the state. "Major case prints," as they were referred to, were taken, usually at a detective's request, to supplement the standard rolled prints of the finger palps routinely taken of arrestees. They consisted of flat impressions of both hands with fingers extended, to include the palms and all adjoining segments of the fingers. In addition, fingertip imprints were taken, together with the blade portion along the sides of the hands. No cylinder or tube was used; strictly flat impressions on flat paper.
As time went by, I don't recall any change in this practice. Not being an expert in such matters, other than experiential exposure, I can't say with any certainty if there were more advanced methods available that our agency didn't adopt (lasers came later). Generally speaking, however, most latents are left by a suspect in such a manner that flat, inked impressions are sufficient to make an identification if sufficient points of comparison are present, regardless from what portion of the hand or fingers the friction ridges that came in contact with the item's surface.
As the song goes, "I know a little bit, about a lot of things." I do know that if I don't know something, I'm not too proud to plead ignorance and ask someone who knows. Too bad we don't have a pool of forensics experts available to this board to bounce such questions off of. And that goes for firearms queries, as well. Michael, in any event, thanks for thinking of me.

By Michael (ip15.lancaster5.pa.pub-ip.psi.net - 38.32.27.15) on Tuesday, August 22, 2000 - 07:32 pm:

Bill, Thanks for your input, I was taught to use the tube method to get even complete prints. I never saw it done any other way. In my job all the cases handled were "major" and our SOP was to take full prints. I recall being told once that the Calif. Dept of Correction' s did Major case prints on intake. I could be wrong. Prints are really not my area, I am much more familiar with firearms and narcotic's investigation.

Michael

By Mike (spider-wo051.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.200.41) on Saturday, August 26, 2000 - 08:52 am:

Here is a qustion: Joe Schmoe comes along and says, "I am the Zodiac killer". He asks that we take all the prints we can from his fingers, tips, palms, lower finger joints, etc. They do not match any of the Napa or SF prints. Excluding hand printing, have we proven him to be a fraud?

What is the level of confidence in the existing prints for EXCLUSION? ALA was compared five ways to Sunday to the entire suite of Z evidence and is still a top suspect. He could not clear himself. Were all the techs printed at the Stine scene, as RG says? Is there a usable and reliable print from the phone receiver in Napa?

Just curious...

Mike

By Anonymous (1cust114.tnt1.san-angelo.tx.da.uu.net - 63.27.101.114) on Saturday, August 26, 2000 - 04:58 pm:

I would like to know if the prints supposely found on the letters, in the taxi cab, on the car where ever compared to each other( to see if they matched)? Also was the palm prints found on the phone receiver ever compared to the palm print found in riverside?

By Chrissy Shaw (dial-121.farmtel.net - 209.207.16.121) on Monday, September 04, 2000 - 11:00 am:

As far as prints go comparing them to one another would go along way towards establishing one individual, especially since it would be near impossible for one individual to have contaminated all sources. I bet a conviction could be gained if the evidence chain is still good.

I asked if this was done via a former FBI person, but as of yet have not received any confirmation or denial. If these prints are matched then it is only a matter of time before the bells will ring. It would either implicate one or none of the current suspects on the list here. Finger prints--if the evidence has been reasonably preserved is just as convicting as DNA if not more. Jurors trust them because of their historical use.

Douglas, thank you for that file-byte posted here.
Edward, I would think that the cross check would rule the whole lot in or out to one degree or another. If they matched that is awful strong evidence, a package worthy of trial when a match could be found.

Would you not want to be in the interview room of the person all those prints matched to?

By Timmy Turtle (209.162.20.4) on Wednesday, September 06, 2000 - 09:18 pm:

ok here's where i'm confused....i was always under the impression that the authorities did retrieve prints from allen, and they didn't match up. if this is so, then this should automatically eliminate him as a suspect. i'm a criminology major, and there is no way to alter a hand print...not by fire, knife, etc.

By Tom Voigt (ac994c3c.ipt.aol.com - 172.153.76.60) on Wednesday, September 06, 2000 - 09:24 pm:

Of course Allen's prints didn't match. If they had, he would have been charged with the Zodiac crimes.
If you have done even preliminary research into the Zodiac case you would know there is a great deal of doubt as to the origin of the cab prints.

By Jake (Jake) (spider-tf061.proxy.aol.com - 152.163.197.201) on Thursday, September 07, 2000 - 12:19 pm:

Tom wrote:
"If you have done even preliminary research into the Zodiac case you would know there is a great deal of doubt as to the origin of the cab prints."

Are you going to bring up that "severed hand" business again?

We have a very good print, cast in Stine's blood, and according to SFPD's Insp. Hamlet, it is believed to be the killer's. This print is good enough that it was used to exclude dozens of other suspects. While it's possible that it belonged to a cop or a fireman, I think we can assume that SFPD would try not to leave prints, and a fireman or paramedic would at least mention, "oops, I left a print, and can you help me get this blood off my fingers."

--Jake
http://members.aol.com/Jakewark/index.html
"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Tom Voigt (ac9eefe6.ipt.aol.com - 172.158.239.230) on Thursday, September 07, 2000 - 01:12 pm:

SFPD has never ruled out a good suspect based on prints. Look at Allen: if they were so confident they had Zodiac's fingerprints, I doubt their interest in Allen would have continued as long as it did.
My info is that San Francisco's cab print is of poor quality, and internally they have doubts as to the origin of the print. Even Graysmith touched on that.
Plus, why would a guy that knows how to conceal his prints neglect to do so? Not just the airplane glue gimmick, it was a cold night and Z could have worn a thin pair of gloves without appearing suspicious.

By Douglas Oswell (196.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.16.196) on Thursday, September 07, 2000 - 04:20 pm:

The FOIA files show a document from SFPD to the Vallejo PD describing the prints in their possession:

All of the latent prints in our case were obtained from a taxi cab. The latent prints that show traces of blood are believed to be prints of the suspect. The latent prints from the right front door handle are also believed to be prints of the suspect. These prints are circled with a red pen. The other latent prints many of which are very good prints, may or may not be prints of the suspect in this case....


"Traces of blood" showing on latents is a far cry from prints actually made in blood, in my opinion.

The Unabomber-Zodiac Connection

By Ed N. (spider-tf023.proxy.aol.com - 152.163.197.183) on Thursday, September 07, 2000 - 04:21 pm:

In any case, wasn't it Mel Nicolai who wrote in Special Report: Zodiac Homicides, p. 7:

Pending receipt of any additional evidence, handprinting (italics mine) is the most positive method of identification or elimination of suspects.

It would seem that law enforcement wasn't too sure of the prints in the first place if that was their position.

By Tom Voigt (ac8b441b.ipt.aol.com - 172.139.68.27) on Thursday, September 07, 2000 - 05:14 pm:

Has that been reproduced somewhere else, or did I publish it?

By Jake (Jake) (spider-th033.proxy.aol.com - 152.163.213.58) on Thursday, September 07, 2000 - 05:36 pm:

Tom wrote:
"SFPD has never ruled out a good suspect based on prints."

Well, I'm just going by the APB files. They don't mention whether the various suspects were ruled out based on the print comparisons, but the fact that they bothered to check seems to imply that they had some faith in them.

"My info is that San Francisco's cab print is of poor quality, and internally they have doubts as to the origin of the print."

If you'd care to elaborate on this, I'm sure it would help us all to make more informed posts. Going by my own meager collection of police documents, the two Wanted posters list "Suspect's latent lifts" and "latents" as available evidence, and an SFPD crime lab technician states that "the latent prints that show traces of blood are believed to be prints of the suspect ... Prints from the right front door handle are also believed to be prints of the suspect." This, I should add, was misrepresented in my earlier post -- I lumped them all together as having been cast in blood. My mistake.

"Plus, why would a guy that knows how to conceal his prints neglect to do so?"

Hey, for that matter, why would a guy who had concealed his prints bother to wipe down the cab?

"Not just the airplane glue gimmick, it was a cold night and Z could have worn a thin pair of gloves without appearing suspicious."

Covering the tips of the fingers, or even wearing gloves, will leave some kind of trace when smeared in a viscous medium like blood. Not only is there no reference in any report of a featureless impression such as would be left by a glove or covered finger, but I've seen pictures of the prints (nth generation copies, mind you, nothing we could work with) and they all have the usual loops and whorls.

Given that Z left plenty of prints behind on paper and at previous crime scenes, my hypothesis is that he didn't think of the glue gimmick until after he'd killed Stine. Since the last prints to be recovered from a letter were taken from the one immediately following this murder, I'd bet that Z didn't come up with the idea until he mentioned it in his 6-page rant of 11/9/69.

--Jake
http://members.aol.com/Jakewark/index.html
"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Jake (Jake) (spider-th033.proxy.aol.com - 152.163.213.58) on Thursday, September 07, 2000 - 05:43 pm:

Ed N. wrote:
"In any case, wasn't it Mel Nicolai who wrote in Special Report: Zodiac Homicides, p. 7:

'Pending receipt of any additional evidence, handprinting (italics mine) is the most positive method of identification or elimination of suspects.'"

So far we have half a dozen suspects whose handwriting matches, but zero whose fingerprints match. I trust Mel, but I haven't met anyone yet who can alter their prints.

--Jake
http://members.aol.com/Jakewark/index.html
"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Glen Claston (dialup-209.244.93.171.dallas1.level3.net - 209.244.93.171) on Thursday, September 07, 2000 - 06:37 pm:

"Plus, why would a guy that knows how to conceal his prints neglect to do so?"

Hey, for that matter, why would a guy who had concealed his prints bother to wipe down the cab?


This is just one of the many things I find wrong with Z's letters. He says he wiped down the cab and left clues to keep the cops busy, but we're not reading that the crime scene was cleaned up in any way, and if you wipe something down, don't you wipe the areas most likely to have been touched, like inside and outside door handles?

It looks more like a hit and run action or bushwhack, and then a more grandiose story made up later to make him look more fearless. Is there anything in the police reports that demonstrate that the cab could have been wiped down?

By Chrissy Shaw (dial-119.farmtel.net - 209.207.16.119) on Thursday, September 07, 2000 - 07:44 pm:

Dear Gentlemen(been only the fellas awhile here)

Jake, first to you. Your site implies that there are prints in FBI possession lifted from the "Christmass" letter. Now I know the doctor wrote that, but can anyone verify that as being true?

Second, If the Stine scene set of prints contained the suspects prints, then they should match those held by the FBI. If they do not, it can be concluded one of the following: the prints in the taxi are contaminated, the prints on the letter were from an alternate source, or finally none of the prints came from the individual involved. In other words, these various prints can leave everything in doubt.

That having been said, if these prints match at all, then they belong to the person called Zodiac. I am assuming to some reasonable degree that those comparisons have been made. If there was a match then anyone's prints who do not match are cleared as a primary suspect--that simple. If that work has been done by SFPD and the FBI and they match, every suspect who does not match them ...is or was not Zodiac.

It is for that reason that finding out if that comparison work has been done(if there are a set of letter prints held by the FBI)because it must change where we look for a suspect. Bill is correct, we need a forensic scientist, at least a forensic lab tech to answer some of the questions we pose. We also need a reliable source in the Federal end of this. We are all more liable to get platinum Rolls Royces for Christmas than hear what the FBI holds active however.

By Ed N. (spider-tf081.proxy.aol.com - 152.163.197.211) on Thursday, September 07, 2000 - 10:04 pm:

Tom wrote:

Has that been reproduced somewhere else, or did I publish it?

This was referencing my statement in an earlier post:

In any case, wasn't it Mel Nicolai who wrote in Special Report: Zodiac Homicides, p. 7:

Pending receipt of any additional evidence, handprinting (italics mine) is the most positive method of identification or elimination of suspects.


Harry Martin mentioned that in "Zodiac," p. 21 (originally published in The Napa Sentinel, 12-10-1991), although he did not quote it directly from Mel Nicolai's report as I did.

By Ed N. (spider-tn012.proxy.aol.com - 152.163.207.47) on Friday, September 08, 2000 - 09:59 am:

In any case, it is the most positive method, not the only method. Presumably, if any of the prints from Stine's cab were matched to a suspect, that would be a pretty positive ID, I would think.

By Mike (spider-te023.proxy.aol.com - 152.163.195.183) on Friday, September 08, 2000 - 10:52 am:

Hi-

One thing that is being lost in all the talk of the prints from the cab is the palm print from Napa. If it is a usable print (which I understand it is), it may be the "best evidence" as far as prints go, since the receiver was still in the "off the hook" position when found. (This obviously implies that nobody touched the receiver after Z did, since normal people don't leave them off the hook when they're done talking.) The print was also, as the legend goes, still wet before it was lifted, so it was seemingly made by the last person to touch the receiver. While there is no direct evidence that this print belongs to Z, it certainly seems to be the less tainted of the print evidence, from what I have come to understand. By inference at least, it is Z's.

What I don't understand is why RG says on TV that "they got nothing" and that someone felt he had "botched" the job of lifting the print. In his book, he says they lifted a "good palm print" from the receiver. Which is it!? My understanding is that the book version is the correct one.

Mike

By Tom Voigt (ac990d39.ipt.aol.com - 172.153.13.57) on Friday, September 08, 2000 - 11:12 am:

Hal Snook was responsible for lifting the prints, and he was in such a hurry to get to the crime scene he rushed the job.
By not letting the prints dry properly, the lifts were of poor quality. I spoke with Snook about a year ago, and he's very remorseful.

By Douglas Oswell (199.251.68.84) on Friday, September 08, 2000 - 12:02 pm:

I still maintain (and I think that many would agree with me) that any practiced murderer who left good prints at a crime scene is too stupid to have escaped capture for long.

I also doubt very seriously Zodiac's story about the airplane glue being used to mask his prints. What he could have done with the glue, in my opinion, is used it as a base to cast a false print taken from some other part of his hand, such as, perhaps, the upper palm area.

The Unabomber-Zodiac Connection

By Jake (Jake) (spider-wi071.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.197.51) on Friday, September 08, 2000 - 12:30 pm:

Doug wrote:
"What he could have done with the glue, in my opinion, is used it as a base to cast a false print taken from some other part of his hand, such as, perhaps, the upper palm area."

I could be wrong, but I think that fingerprints have a "look" to them that can't be faked by taking an impression from a palm or foot. The striations from either of the latter are too spread out to be mistaken for fingertips, which only have loops and whorls to a width of about an inch.

Again, I'm far from certain on this, but I'm pretty sure I recall reading somewhere that a good print tech can tell fingerprints from the prints of a toe, palm, or other area.

--Jake
http://members.aol.com/Jakewark/index.html
"This is the Zodiac speaking..."

By Chrissy Shaw (dial-117.farmtel.net - 209.207.16.117) on Saturday, September 09, 2000 - 08:38 am:

Dear Tom:

That is sad, but it does happen. Crime scenes are no easy deal, so very much can go wrong. Though one not be able to conclusively match such prints, providing that enough data from them was available, I would venture a composite could be made, if indeed we are dealing with only one set from the crime scene. If these rumored prints exist from the "Christmass" letter, then I would be very interested in what points match between the two sets. I'd buy the second set if a fingerprint analyst said, "Bingo."

What I do not at this time know, is if this second set exists at all. In a week or so I will go digging again myself and see if I have fallen victim to yet another writer's speculation, or if indeed we have comparative data. If I learn anything then I will post it.

By Chrissy Shaw (dial-117.farmtel.net - 209.207.16.117) on Saturday, September 09, 2000 - 08:46 am:

Dear Ed:

I am assuming that if we matched prints we would find scissors, threads, etc. at the individuals residence, but I really am shy on eyewitness accounts as compared to verifiable confessions, or physical evidence. DNA has to be handled awful carefully and in the time frame we are talking about, I doubt highly that it was. As far as I know(and that aint too far)most DNA from old cases that turn a case, come from a substantial amount of physical evidence gathered initially.

Chrissy

By Douglas Oswell (59.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.17.59) on Saturday, September 09, 2000 - 09:40 am:

Again, I'm far from certain on this, but I'm pretty sure I recall reading somewhere that a good print tech can tell fingerprints from the prints of a toe, palm, or other area.

At least one FOIA document describes the prints as possibly being from a palm or lower finger joint--it's obvious they weren't certain which.

By Jake (Jake) (spider-wo053.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.200.43) on Saturday, September 09, 2000 - 10:28 am:

Doug wrote:
"At least one FOIA document describes the prints as possibly being from a palm or lower finger joint--it's obvious they weren't certain which."

The print in question is in the form of a long strip, which looks exactly like what they describe: the bottom of a finger leading into a palm. It does not look like a section of palmprint with the width of a fingertip.

--Jake
http://members.aol.com/Jakewark/index.html
"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Timmy Turtle (209-162-21-134.thegrid.net - 209.162.21.134) on Saturday, September 09, 2000 - 08:35 pm:

if sfpd had really thought that one of them or a fireman had left the hand print, don't you think they would have checked everyone involved at the scene if they didn't already have their prints on file. if the "severed hand" theory is true, then there would have to be a body of someone that was never found....which obviously would open the door to the notion that there are way more z killings. why doesn't the donna lass killing look like a z killing? he always changed the way he went about murdering his victims. abducting a woman from her place of employment would seem to be such a change. tom, do you know how many prints were obtained from allen?

By Timmy Turtle (209-162-21-134.thegrid.net - 209.162.21.134) on Saturday, September 09, 2000 - 08:38 pm:

one more thing tom, someone mentioned there being 38 latent prints retrieved. i'm sure these prints have been checked against each other to see if they corroborate. do you know what the results were?

By Chrissy Shaw (dial-92.farmtel.net - 209.207.16.92) on Tuesday, September 12, 2000 - 03:20 pm:

Dear Timmy Turtle:

You are asking my question(laugh out loud). If you find out let me know.

Chrissy

By sandy (c531918-a.ptbrg1.sfba.home.com - 24.176.152.45) on Tuesday, September 12, 2000 - 09:27 pm:

What if I am right, and more than one person (4) were involved in the Z crimes. All knowing each other, and covering one another.The cab print being (the main man),who was never arrested.The part that throws me is that L.K. was arrested many times,so they can't be his prints, but the description of how the killer walked, is just the way L.K. walks!Yet how he looked,crewcut hair,reddish brown,horn-rim glasses is what Darlenes ex looked like. That would explain the prints not matching one another.Also why each time the suspects looked different.

By Mike (spider-wa023.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.192.28) on Thursday, September 21, 2000 - 07:02 am:

Hi-

Does anyone have a feel for the current state of the art with respect to the cab prints from SF? I have seen a 100th generation copy of them and two are singled out as being the "most likely" ones to have come from Z. The first is from the post between the driver's side front and rear doors and appears to be the "lower finger joints and upper palms". The second is from the outside door handdle of the front passenger's side door. These APPEAR to be infamous "tips" of two fingers from the right hand. Both of these sets of prints are associated with blood.

My question is this: When the prints were recovered in 1969, RG said that there were allegedly only "8 points on two fingers" of the right hand. It is also part of the lore of the case that NEITHER of these two sets of "likely Z" prints could be compared to what is found on a standard rolled print card. (This is why they got a search warrant to take Allen's hand and palm prints as part of the search of his trailer.) Since that time, it has been alleged that advances in technology have allowed the development of something like 4 more points. The prints are therefore purportedly able to be used for positive ID of a suspect. BUT CAN THESE PRINTS, EVEN TODAY, BE USED AGAINST A STANDARD PRINT CARD TO RULE IN (OR OUT) A GIVEN SUSPECT? Or does the person still have to be identified by other means and then either surrender, or be forced to surrender, his full hand prints, as was the case in 1971? Does a comparison, for example, of the cab prints to the entire NCIC(?) criminal fingerprint database have any meaning, even today?

Mike

By Howard (Howard) (dialup-63.210.126.238.losangeles1.level3.net - 63.210.126.238) on Friday, October 06, 2000 - 01:53 am:

There were several prints found on the Bates' VW and many were greasy. It is presumed by some that the killer casually walks up,in military dress(as heel match shows;why would "Barnett" go this far-he and Bates knew each other!) shoes to give a semblance of respectibilty-'I'm in the military-I'm o.k.'(remember Kathy Johns?)and proceeds to 'help' (this eats up some of the so called unaccounted time that night)with her car "problem". After some time the repair cannot be made and they take that fateful walk. A RSPD det. I spoke to told me that he has run those prints through the Ca. computer system and there have been no matches thus far. They have prints and they know those prints do not match their suspect "Barnett".Whose prints are they? They were not Bates';so it is possible that since the car was left there all night some kid could have tried to hot wire the car, but since the car was disabled by the villan(again why would "Barnett" go through all this if he knew CJB and could have spoken to her,etc.?)failed and left those or some of those prints behind.The prints/palm do not match "Barnett's" either.Incidently,an associate spoke to the man CJB was engaged to at the time ,Dennis Highland ,and he said that Cheri "loved" her car and would never have left the windows open and doors unlocked unless she was 'forced to the alley';something to think about-the killer sure did!.I gave a copy of my suspects prints to another detective ,'Bud" Kelly, who very rudely and unprofessionally pushed it away and said "we don't have any prints to compare them to"! I had a witness there ,Glenn Murphy ,who certainly was distrubed with his Irish counterparts behavior!Thats the case....

By Esau (Esau) (cc129455-a.rcrdva1.ca.home.com - 24.176.178.187) on Monday, January 08, 2001 - 08:24 pm:

Have any of you investigators that have a rapport with law enforcement asked whether or not the latent prints found on the letters and Stine's cab have been through that FBI computer data base? I wonder if this has been done. I think that this would compare prints with anyone that has served in the military or law enforcement and anyone that has a criminal record along with other unidentified latents from other crime scenes in a matter of hours. I would hope that this has already been done but from what I've read this is not a high priority case with most law enforcement agencies.

By Esau (Esau) (cc129455-a.rcrdva1.ca.home.com - 24.176.178.187) on Saturday, January 13, 2001 - 02:27 pm:

Maybe none of you saw the above post. You would think there would have been a match by now if they have in fact run the latents through that FBI data base.

By Hurley (Hurley) (spider-wn063.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.197.178) on Saturday, January 13, 2001 - 02:42 pm:

Hi Esau. I can't answer your question but I think there is a current similar discussion elsewhere on the board.

By Jake Wark (Jake) (spider-tn083.proxy.aol.com - 152.163.207.83) on Sunday, January 14, 2001 - 10:07 am:

Esau wrote:
"Have any of you investigators that have a rapport with law enforcement asked whether or not the latent prints found on the letters and Stine's cab have been through that FBI computer data base?"

It's my understanding that the cab prints are not good enough to run through the AFIS system, and have to be checked by hand. Now, this is second-hand info, so don't take it as gospel.

I'm not so sure about the letter prints, but there are a bunch of AFIS sheets in the APB files, indicating that at least some were good enough to scan. Apparently, they came up empty.

--Jake
http://members.aol.com/Jakewark/index.html
"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Mike (Mike) (spider-wl031.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.199.31) on Saturday, January 20, 2001 - 07:59 am:

Hi-

A theme regarding prints that we should keep in mind is stated on page 183 of the PDF section of the FBI files on apbonline.com. It indicates that major case prints HAVE to be used to rule in a suspect or to rule him out. Therefore, let's dispossess ourselves once and for all of the notion that a comparison with the NCIC database can rule out every criminal or serviceman in that database. It can ONLY rule out those men who have major case prints on file, which I am sure is a relatively low percentage.

Standard print cards just won't cut it. Period!

Mike

By Jake Wark (Jake) (spider-wd024.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.193.159) on Sunday, January 21, 2001 - 06:54 am:

Mike wrote:
"Standard print cards just won't cut it. Period!"

This sounds like the beginning of a rationalization for the continued investigation of a non-suspect. Some of the letter prints were apparently good enough that they could be used to eliminate a suspect, regardless of whether his known prints were from a standard card or a major case roll (Allen and one or two others were the only ones checked using major case prints).

Major case prints are nothing more than the inked impressions of full handprints. Provided that the questioned prints are from the fingertips, I don't think it should make a difference whether the known prints they're checked against are from the tips alone or the whole hand.

--Jake
http://members.aol.com/Jakewark/index.html
"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Esau (Esau) (cc129455-a.rcrdva1.ca.home.com - 24.176.178.187) on Sunday, January 21, 2001 - 07:45 am:

Mike, everyone convicted of a felony and everyone that has served in the US military can be found on the FBI data base called "AFIS".

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-mtc-tc022.proxy.aol.com - 64.12.105.157) on Sunday, July 01, 2001 - 07:13 am:

I apologize if this question has already been answered (I did a keyword search but was unable to find the answer I was looking for), but a couple of people have asked the same thing that I'm wondering at the present time: Were any of the latents (from letters, Stine's cab, etc.) ever COMPARED TO EACH OTHER to determine if they matched? I know that there are a number of latent prints on file that are "believed" to be that of the suspect's, but have these prints been compared to one another to determine if a match exists? It seems logical that such a comparison would have been made, but I cannot find any documentation that confirms this. If SFPD, VPD, Napa, or the FBI have "confidence" in the prints, it seems logical that certain prints from the letters, for example, would have matched latents taken from elsewhere. If I've overlooked something, I apologize in advance, but will somebody PLEASE point me in the right direction?

Scott

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-10407-2.linkline.com - 64.30.209.40) on Wednesday, July 18, 2001 - 04:53 pm:

Scott: Jake posted on this topic some time back and he referred to FBI documents that indicate the Agency was working on crossover latents or match ups, etc.There does not seem to be a final report on the project-if, in deed, there was one that was carried out.

You can click his site and also e him as he may have info relative to your query.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ta022.proxy.aol.com - 152.163.205.52) on Tuesday, February 26, 2002 - 10:15 am:

There is a very interesting article in today's L.A. Times on the unreliability of fingerprint evidence. It is a must read for those that have an interest in this. It seems only half of the "Print Experts" can pass a basic proficiency exam. Furthurmore once a bad call has been made, it usually sticks. Based on this article I'd say the Stine cab prints could be any of the suspects.

By Curt (Curt) (63.174.96.153) on Tuesday, February 26, 2002 - 10:32 am:

Check out this link, too: Crime Library Story. Seems like fingerprint analysis has fallen out of favor since the advent of DNA technology.

~Curt,
Labyrinth13

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb4877a.ipt.aol.com - 172.180.135.122) on Tuesday, February 26, 2002 - 11:14 am:

Here's the link to that LA Times story: Pointing a Finger at Prints. It's an eye-opener...

By Linda (Linda) (207-172-73-134.s134.tnt1.fdk.md.dialup.rcn.com - 207.172.73.134) on Tuesday, February 26, 2002 - 01:56 pm:

I agree with Sylvie that the prints from the Stine scene could be "any" of the suspects OR, to further Sylvie's statement, "none" of the suspects... There is still no conclusive proof that the print found was positively that of the Zodiac...

Linda

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb623a1.ipt.aol.com - 172.182.35.161) on Tuesday, February 26, 2002 - 03:09 pm:

Quite right, Linda. However, based on that story, fingerprints are actually not enough to rule a suspect in or out considering how incompetent some print experts appear to be. Without knowing the level of competence of whoever checked the cab prints versus the suspects, I don't think anyone can positively be ruled out at this point.

By obiwan (Obiwan) (ciw2.ciw.edu - 192.70.249.40) on Tuesday, February 26, 2002 - 06:00 pm:

Gee if Zodiac were really a super genious, and he found out that Allen was the main suspect, he could have obtained a sample of Allen's prints (ie "Hey here's a free glass of beer"), then sent a package to SFPD with broken glass shards & Allen's prints on them saying This is the Zodiac Speaking...and Allen would have gone to the gas chamber I suspect.... (of course if A. was Z. he probably wouldn't have done this..)

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc3f92d.ipt.aol.com - 172.195.249.45) on Thursday, March 14, 2002 - 09:32 pm:

Here's a link to a follow-up story about fingerprints that appeared in today's Chronicle: Judge rules fingerprints can be used in courts after all: Change of mind reverses finding made in January. Kinda funny how things can change like that... first fingerprints aren't scientific, then they are, then they aren't, then they are...

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-10407-2.linkline.com - 64.30.209.40) on Friday, March 15, 2002 - 03:51 pm:

Ed,
My point!Also,the Federal Department of Justice said that fingerprint analysis has "...NOT been subject to rigorous scientific inquiry."Big shock!