F.B.I’s Hit of the Year

Two cold cases solved.


January 1972. A man was murdered—stabbed more than 50 times in his San Diego, California home. His house had been ransacked, and his car was stolen. Police recovered latent fingerprints from the crime scene, but at that time there was no national automated system available to match the prints. All possible leads were followed, but the case eventually went cold.

October 1978. Similar story: A man was stabbed to death inside his home in Bird Key, Florida. The house had been burglarized, and his car taken. Police found latent prints on the victim’s television set, but weren’t able to search the prints on a national level. Investigators exhausted every lead, but they could never identify the perpetrator.

What do these decades-old murder cases have in common? Two things. They were both recently solved by local law enforcement…with the assistance of the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or IAFIS, a national repository of fingerprints and criminal history records launched in 1999. And both cases were chosen by our Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) to receive its “Hit of the Year” award.

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