October 10, 2017
Two State Agencies Use NGI to Help Crack Cases, Receive Biometric Identification Awards
Part 1: Texas DPS Honored for Resourceful Use of Biometric Technology to Help Identify Suspect in Child Exploitation Case
The Texas DPS recently received the FBI’s Biometric Identification Award for their unconventional use of technology to help solve a child exploitation case. Biometric Services Section Chief William G. McKinsey of the FBI’s CJIS Division presented the award to Jenny Hall and Meghan Blackburn, both of the Austin Crime Laboratory.
“This case perfectly demonstrates the continued importance of fingerprint evidence and the innovative forensic work being accomplished at DPS crime laboratories,” said Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw.
In July 2015, the Texas Office of Attorney General submitted a digital photograph to the Texas DPS Crime Laboratory in Austin. In the photo, an unknown suspect was exploiting a child, and the only possible lead to the identity of the man in the photo was the fingers on one of his hands.
Hall, the latent automated fingerprint identification system supervisor, and Blackburn, the latent prints supervisor, joined forces to retrieve an image of a single print from one of the suspect’s fingers in the photo. Despite the fact that no scale was available for the fingerprint, examiners extrapolated information from the photo, performed additional research, and estimated the size of the fingerprint. A search of the fingerprint image against the Texas database did not return any potential investigative leads. However, Texas DPS also launched a search of the FBI’s NGI System, which resulted in an investigative lead.
The fingerprint identified the suspect as Robert Harold Bossick, Jr., who was living in the Augusta, Georgia area. The information was turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crimes Against Children Unit. Bossick was located and, during an interview, admitted to taking sexually explicit photographs of a local 9-year-old girl. Information was also developed about Bossick participating in a private chat group that was sharing child pornography. Investigative leads were sent to other states and countries, which led to the arrest of two more individuals and the identification of three juvenile victims.
Bossick was arrested in July 2015 and later pleaded guilty in federal court to possession and production of child pornography. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
This case marked the first time latent print examiners with the Texas DPS Crime Laboratory successfully used an evidentiary photo of a finger to identify a suspect. DPS Director McCraw added, “Sexual predators who prey on children are among the most heinous of criminals, and we are proud that our DPS crime lab experts were part of the criminal justice effort that put this deplorable criminal behind bars.”
Each year, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division presents the Biometric Identification Award to recognize the outstanding members of local and state law enforcement who use the Next Generation Identification (NGI) System to solve major cases. This year, two state agencies received the award for their resourceful use of the system: the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). In this two-part series, we feature the award winners and highlight how NGI helped crack their cases.