New Fingerprint Technology Helping Solve Oklahoma Cold Cases

OSBI is now using what is basically, AFIS on steroids; a fingerprinting system that is three times more accurate than the old one and can also match palm prints, and it's helping solve old cases.

Tuesday, May 19th 2015, 12:22 am

By: News On 6

Anyone who has ever watched a crime drama probably knows that AFIS is the fingerprint database that helps investigators match prints to solve crimes.

OSBI is now using what is basically, AFIS on steroids; a fingerprinting system that is three times more accurate than the old one and can also match palm prints, and it's helping solve old cases.

The Next Generation Identification system, or NGI, is a major upgrade to the FBI's fingerprint system, and right now OSBI is the only agency in the state allowed to access it; but it's helping police all over Oklahoma bring killers to justice and give families answers.

On July 16, 2000, police found a man in the Arkansas River. He was partially clothed, had some cash in his pockets and it looked like he drowned.

He didn't have any ID on him and even though police had his fingerprints, there were no matches, so they had no idea who he was, even though Tulsa Police Detective, Margaret Loveall said they looked, and looked.

Fast forward 15 years to a few months ago when the medical examiner's office sent the old prints to OSBI scientists who ran them through the new system and found a match.

"Within 20 minutes, they had a hit," Loveall said.

His name was David Granito. He'd lost touch with his family, and even though they always wondered what happened to him, they never filed a missing persons report.

His daughter was a teenager then and now she has children of her own and she's grateful to have answers.

Tulsa police found a man in May of 1980 in an overgrown field and even though his body was in bad shape, investigators, at the time, made castings of his hands and the ME's office still had them 35 years later.

Using the castings, and an old fingerprint card from when he served time in prison in Oklahoma as a young man back in 1935, they learned his name was Edward Brewer.

"The truth never changes, but technology does," said Loveall.

They've not been able to find Brewer's family, so in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons database, he's been moved from the unidentified category to unclaimed.

Tulsa police also identified a man who was hit by a train in 1982 as Gerald Freemyer. He is also unclaimed, but, maybe somewhere, his family is searching.

"Perhaps they've have been looking, almost 40 years. He's a son or a brother or a father," Loveall said.

Loveall is hooked, so now Tulsa police detectives are going through unsolved homicide and missing person cases to see if there are fingerprints they can re-run through NGI.

OSBI Criminalist Administrator, Jim Stokes, and OSBI are encouraging all law enforcement agencies in the state to do the same.

"Just because something was previously searched through AFIS doesn't mean you're necessarily done with it," Stokes said.

Daisy Doe is a prime example.

3/18/2015 Related Story: 'Daisy Doe' Case Is One Of A Kind In Cherokee County

Her body was found below the Fort Gibson dam on May 7, 1988. It was in bad shape and the prints weren't useable.

Detectives tried everything for years to find out who she was but, couldn't. They froze her hands and the ME's office had them all these years later, so OSBI thawed them and used a boiling technique to get better prints, and now we know she's Jeanette Coleman, a woman who police said was married to a serial killer.

"We never gave up trying," said Cherokee County Undersheriff, Jason Chenault.

The new fingerprint system does not just identify bodies, but is also helping solve cold homicide cases.

Fingerprints left at scenes that couldn't be identified before, can be now, and charges have been filed recently against two killers who thought they'd gotten away with murder in 1983 and 1997.

“I truthfully believe we've just scratched the surface on cases we're still working on," Stokes said.

The State Medical Examiner's Office is playing a huge role in helping find old evidence and notify families.

If you are looking for a missing loved on or want to report someone missing, it's never too late and with this new technology, now is the time.


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