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News

Sagem Morpho AFIS database helps solve murder case

Sagem Morpho : 20 September, 2007  (Application Story)
1989 murder victim identified from partial fingerprint through analysis and matching through Sagem Morpho's AFIS database.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has used an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) developed by Sagem Morpho to identify a murder victim and arrest a suspect - nearly 17 years after the crime was committed. Investigators cracked the cold case in 2006 through positive AFIS identification of one partial fingerprint taken from the corpse in 1989.

Jefferson County Investigator Cheryl Moore, who identified the unknown murder victim, received the 2006 Colorado Homicide Investigator of the Year Award for her work on this and other cold case investigations. This case was one of 50 cold cases assigned to Investigator Moore in 2005. Upon reviewing the evidence for fresh leads, Moore decided to resubmit the partial fingerprint from the unidentified body to the statewide AFIS maintained by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Although the print had been compared against fingerprint databases in Colorado and other states, the Sagem Morpho AFIS, with advanced matcher and coder technologies, had been purchased in 1993 and upgraded several times since then. CBI's AFIS contains nearly 2 million tenprint records and 20,000 unsolved latent records. Thirteen Colorado police departments access the CBI AFIS via remote workstations, and another 40 livescan systems around the state electronically submit tenprint records.

Moore requested assistance from Vicky Spelman-Lang, a criminologist in the Sheriff's Office, to prepare the print submission. Spelman-Lang applied image enhancement functions in the AFIS to generate three submissions of the single print for comparison against the CBI archive. In each submission, the criminologist marked three different sets of points, or print bifurcations and ridge endings, for the AFIS to use in finding a match with a fingerprint on file.
"The way Vicky submitted the print to the AFIS was crucial to our success," said Moore.

In the first submission, Spelman-Lang marked the most conventional points in the print. But in the second preparation, she used the AFIS functions to highlight areas of the print that were faded, possibly due to body decomposition, and she marked points there. In the third submission, the Criminologist adjusted the print for distortions that may also have resulted from the poor condition of the body.
Moore and Spelman-Lang received positive hits on the first and second submissions, both identifying the remains as Lisa Kelly, who had been missing since release from jail in 1988. But Investigator Moore wasn't satisfied. Details of Kelly's murder were similar to those of another cold case, prompting Moore to submit DNA evidence to the FBI. Another match was made, and Jefferson County was soon arresting a suspect.

"This case shows the importance of re-submitting evidence," said Spelman-Lang. "The neat thing about the Sagem Morpho AFIS is that when you don't have any leads, a single fingerprint can put you right back in the ballgame."
Sagem Morpho's biometric technology is used worldwide for solving crimes, preventing fraud, and enhancing security. Agencies around the globe rely on Morpho's industry-leading biometrics to fight crime and verify true identity. Sagem Morpho AFIS technology, known for world class matching accuracy and speed, use 100% memory based matching with no proprietary hardware. The Sagem Morpho AFIS processes full hand images and full palm latents as a single image and provide reliable real-time and lights-out identification transactions.
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