The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Latent Print Unit recently initiated a cold case project to research past unsolved violent crimes using the newly acquired Next Generation Identification (NGI) Increment 3 system, the agency says.
The state-of-the-art biometric identification system provides significant improvement in latent fingerprint search accuracy. It also includes a new nationwide palm print identification system.
According to a news release, with the new tool, the OSBI Latent Print Unit Cold Case Team recently entered latent prints from an unsolved rape and homicide case from Wisconsin.
In 1997, the Wisconsin Department of Justice requested all states search a print lifted from a plastic bag used to suffocate a 14-year-old girl. OSBI said requests by state law enforcement to search a print are common since a state database cannot access other states' databases, so the agency ran that print against Oklahoma's fingerprint database with no hit.
The OSBI Latent Print Unit Cold Case Team, armed with the new technology, ran the latent print through NGI.
A hit was made to a Chicago man who had never been considered a suspect in the girl's rape and murder. His fingerprint was in the system for a minor offense, so OSBI alerted Wisconsin officials to the match, a spokesperson said.
Wisconsin officials then collected the man's DNA from a discarded cigarette butt. Officials say the DNA from the cigarette butt matched DNA from the crime scene.
The Racine County (Wisconsin) Sheriff's Office arrested 36-year-old James P. Eaton earlier this month and charged him with first-degree intentional murder and hiding a corpse. He sits in the Racine County jail on a $1 million bond.
OSBI is hopeful this new technology and efforts to re-search cold cases continues producing results. Even though this was not an Oklahoma case, the Bureau believes it important that violent criminals, no matter where they commit their crimes, are held accountable.