Today’s Investigative Special Report – February 1, 2013 “Dealing With Todays Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “The “Fingerprints” Of a Child Sexual Assault Investigation – Part V”

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

Forensic Expert – Senior Author

Sex Offender Data Sought From MySpace
Sex Offender Data Sought From MySpace (Photo credit: methodshop.com)
Since the explosion of the child sexual assault era in the late 1970s and early 1980s one of the laws which was passed in the majority of States were individuals who wanted to work around children have to be fingerprinted. This step provides a pseudo type registration in that once an individual is fingerprinted those fingerprints are registered in the National Automated Fingerprint System (NFAIS).
In most States, individuals who sexually assault children are required to register at the local police department that they are a sex offender and at that time provide the police with their information. This information includes all of their personal information, where they work, and the types of vehicles they own, to who their family and friends are. Law enforcement wants to know everything about them. Sex offenders may be able to control their behavior, but they will always be an offender.
The purpose of this information is to identify and profile this individual in case ‘if’ a child is abducted or sexually assaulted or murdered, law enforcement will be able to review each sex offender’s method of operandi and determine if they could be a viable suspect.
In child sexual assault investigation (CSAI) the second characteristic of “Daly’s Twelve Investigative Characteristics to Finding the Truth” is registration. The reasons for registration being one of the characteristics are as follows: The District Detective needs to consider the following:
Registration - Perpetrator upon being convicted of a sex crime is required by law to register as a sex offender

1.      Like a fingerprint once the perpetrator is placed into the local, state, and national registration for sex offenders his fingerprints will always remain in the system. His method of operandi, sexual preferences, and everything about him will be placed into the registration.
2.      The location of the sex offender’s residence may become important to the District Detective as if a CSAI is committed by the sex offender’s residence it is common sense that the local offender may have been involved in the crime.
3.      The sex offender will be required to establish an alibi i.e. where he was when the crime occurred.
4.      The physical, biological, and trace evidence found at the crime scene can be quickly matched with the possible sex offender.
5.      A montage, sometimes called a “show-up” which is a series of photographs of potential sex offenders can be shown to the child victim. The District Detective is responsible in making sure that the array of photographs are similar to the individual they have focused their investigation on. This investigative procedure is performed so at a later time the montage is not thrown out by a court because law enforcement were suggestive or pointed the child victim to the sex offender they had in custody.
6.      If the crime scene technician (CST) locates a fingerprint, then he is to advise the District Detective. The District Detective would then have the CST take the fingerprint to the NAFIS and have the fingerprint compared. However, there is new technology in this area, where fingerprints can be lifted (collected) and immediately put into a portable fingerprint scanner. Further, the MorpholDent Portable Fingerprint Scanner allows field identification of a suspicious person without taking the officer off the street to bring the individual to a precinct office or jail.

Kenny Ray Morrison convicted sex offender
Kenny Ray Morrison convicted sex offender (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The cost of the new portable fingerprint scanner can be analyzed as reducing the number of manpower hours that it costs an agency to take a fingerprint to the police station or the State Crime Laboratory for examination and analyzation. The same is true if you have to take one of the district cars out of service to fingerprint an individual you believe is not who he says he is; may be illegally in the United States; may have a warrant out for his arrest; the latter; and so forth.
The value of the locating, identifying, and collecting a fingerprint at a crime scene is like striking oil. If the perpetrator’s fingerprints are in the NAFIS then there is the possibility depending on the characteristics of the fingerprint that there will be a match.
In CSAI cases the need for fingerprints is not as important as if the CT was processing the crime scene of a homicide. In regards to the identification of the perpetrator, in 95% of the sexual assaults committed on a child, the child was found to be either related to or knew him. It is only the remaining 5% where identification is an issue.
In the 5% of stranger cases, having the most up to date information about where the sex offenders live is vital. If the sexual assault occurred in the vicinity of where a sex offender works or lives, this situation can be like the value of obtaining a fingerprint. The method of operandi may be specific enough to make the individual a ‘person of interest.’
In several studies individuals later identified as sex offenders admitted to committing the crime 75% of the time. Most of these individuals have been through the criminal justice system and understand how the legal system works. If the individual confesses that he has a sex problem he may be thinking that he has been caught now so it is time to play the role of how sorry he is and how he needs treatment.
The goal of the detective should be to maximize all his resources immediately once the child sexual assault has come to the attention of the authorities. In homicides the investigative ideology is law enforcement has 72 hours in order to identify, locate, and apprehend the perpetrator.
In child sexual assault cases 50% of the time the sexual assaults are reported immediately. The problem for law enforcement is that the other 50% of the sexual assaults could be as old as sixty-years ago. The perpetrator may be dead or is in a nursing home and non-prosecutable. The physical, trace, biological, and medical evidence and testimony of witnesses generally no longer exists.
The correlation between the second characteristic of Daly’s twelve investigative steps, is as important or may be as important as any of the characteristics. Solid evidence such as a fingerprint can be utilized in such a way that the judge or jury should be influenced to either convict or clear an individual from being convicted.
Registration of sex offenders and their fingerprints of these offenders across the United States have been remarkable and have made a major difference for child victims. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC, 2012) released the results of their latest survey regarding the number of registered sex offenders in the United States. The organization’s most recent survey of States found there are 747,408 sex offenders registered in the United States. Since 2006 there has been a 23% registration increase.
These findings provide a positive and successful relationship between the quality of investigation being performed by law enforcement and crime scene technicians to the registration of sex offenders. The greater the number of registered sex offenders identified the more likely law enforcement will be able to identify the offender, prosecute them, and send them to prison for life. These results occur when law enforcement can identify the sex offender because of his specific method of operandi and is tagged as being the one where a child was sexually assaulted.
Law enforcement needs to broaden their capabilities by having access to resources such as the portable fingerprint scanner, the new procedures in processing fingerprints, the new procedures of identifying sex offenders, the new procedures of how to interrogate sex offenders, and etc. In providing new tools to use, law enforcement proficiency rates will be successful.
The future of obtaining critical evidence by law enforcement and providing a case full of evidence that the prosecutor can use to prosecute sex offenders may make the difference if the sex offender is found guilty or not guilty. Law enforcement’s fact finding investigation mission has to be at the level competence, intelligence, reliability, and credibility which provide avenues for them to create and innovate new child sexual assault investigations methods and techniques.
Lawrence W. Daly
Kent, WA

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