How durable are fingerprints?

Patricia Bradley Mystery Question 25 Comments

Police Examine A Fingerprint Left By A Suspect

The year is 1880. English scientist Sir Francis Galton established that fingerprints are not inherited and that even identical twins had different ridge patterns.

Two years later, Galton published a book from his studies, Finger Prints. From this book, a police officer in India established five basic patterns and instructed his forces to start using dactyloscopy — the term used for fingerprinting. The new system proved to be an instant success and the rate of criminal identification in India soared.

Since that time, fingerprinting was the single most used way to identify criminals until the use of DNA surfaced. More on fingerprints a little later.

But first the answer to last week’s Mystery Question: It’s 1957 in England. A man had found his wife submerged in the bathtub and he summoned the doctor to his home. He explained his wife had been ill all night vomiting, sweating, weakness, and her pupils were dilated and that she had complained of feeling too hot and got up to take a bath. The autopsy revealed she was two months pregnant. He was later arrested and tried for her murder. One of the following statements is false. Can you guess which one?
  1. Two hypodermic needles were found on the kitchen table, but the husband explained, saying he had given himself an injection of penicillin and traces of penicillin were found in the needles.
  2. Her symptoms were classic for an insulin overdose, except her blood sugar was way too high–the complete opposite of what an insulin overdose would be.
  3. At the trial, the husband’s defense attorneys argued that insulin disappeared very quickly from the body and there was no way to prove she had been injected with an insulin overdose, and besides that, her blood sugar was too high for an insulin overdose.
  4. There were no visible injection marks on her freckled skin, but when the Medical Examiner went over the body with a magnifying glass, he found two tiny puncture marks in the fold under her buttocks. The husband explained the puncture marks away by saying he’d given his wife two injections of ergonovine to induce an abortion.

And the answer is…#3. Instead, the defense attorneys argued that the wife fainted and slid under the water and her body released a massive dose of insulin, causing a coma and death. Fortunately, the jury did not believe their argument. Congrats Trixi, Delores, and Jerusha!

Now back to the fingerprints and this week’s Mystery Question: It’s 1951 in Cleveland, Ohio, and a police officer spots a Lincoln with California tags going the wrong direction on a one-way street. He pulls the car over and the man states his driver’s license is at the boarding house where he is staying. The officer accompanies him to the boarding house where a firefight erupts and the officer is shot and killed. The gunman flees with the officer’s gun. He stops at a diner to take stock of his situation and decides he has to get rid of the gun. Which of the following is not true?
  1. He ditched the gun in one of the toilets at the diner, and when the gun was recovered from the drain pipe, his fingerprint was etched on the gun barrel.
  2.  The police found the gun wrapped in a cloth bag in the garbage can out back of the diner. There were no prints on the gun, but police found a dinner knife with the killer’s fingerprints on it in the garbage.
  3. In a later shootout, the man is wounded and he drops his gun and police recover it, but it’s not the police officer’s revolver.
  4. The killer stated he shot the officer in self-defense and his attorneys argued for an insanity plea, describing him as a “moral imbecile” and “psychopathic”.

Okay, Super Sleuths, what is the one statement that is not true? Leave your answer in the comment section and be entered in a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card. Comments must be made by Monday, December 4 at 7 pm, as I will announce the winner in next Tuesday’s blog. I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to a lucky commenter for the next three weeks, ending the 18th. Then I’ll take a couple of weeks off for Christmas.

The winner of the Adult Christian coloring book is…Connie!

Comments 25

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  1. Edward Arrington

    I struck out again last week, but I am sticking with 1 for another go-round. Let’s see how it works out this time. After deciding and scrolling down, it appears that is the unanimous response, so far. We will probably discover that police carried much smaller weapons in 1950 and the drain pipe to toilets was much larger. LOL!

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  2. Gloria

    Well, I am going to be the oddball and say #2. Why would a knife be in the bag? I haven’t had much luck guessing but we shall see.

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  3. Trixi

    I’m going for #2 this week….and yay, for finally being right last week (and sticking with 3), lol! I’m very bad at guessing so we’ll see what the real answer is next week 🙂

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