2017 Biometric Identification Award
The FBI’s 2017 Biometric Identification Award has been awarded to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Austin, Texas for identifying the subject of a child pornography investigation using the picture of a fingerprint seen within a digital pornographic image.
Narrator: The FBI Biometric Identification Award is presented to an outstanding Law Enforcement officer or agency for their efforts in solving major cases through use of Next Generation Identification, or NGI System. The 2017 Biometric Identification Award is presented to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Austin, Texas.
Meghan Blackburn: On July 30th of 2015, I was contacted by the Office of the Attorney General here in Austin regarding an active child porn case. They had received a cyber tip about images on a drop box account of the individual they were currently investigating. They reached out to us regarding these digital images because they represented the real-time commission of an offense with clearly visible fingerprints in the image itself. They submitted the images to us the same day and upon observing the images in our computer system I was able to see clearly defined ridge detail. What was necessary for us to do was to obtain as close to a one-to-one scale version of those images in order for them to be entered into our automated system. To obtain a one-to-one image without a scale present in the photograph we had to do some research on trying to obtain the average length of a man’s hand. In that research we were given a figure of 7.44 inches from the end of the palm to the tip of the middle finger. Half of that distance is the entire palm itself, which left the other half to be the base of middle finger to its tip. We then divided that measurement – 3.72 – into thirds to obtain a one-to-one image. Then I created composites for each finger that was visible in the digital photograph. I then turned over the case to Jenny Hall, our latent AFIS supervisor, for entry into AFIS.
Jenny Hall: When I received the case, I went and I entered the prints into the state AFIS system. I did not receive an identification there so I went and I entered the prints into the FBI’s NGI System. It was late in the day so I went ahead and left. I couldn’t sleep that night. The case was weighing heavy on me because a child was in danger and we needed to do whatever we could do and do it quickly. I woke up really early, came into work, sat at my computer, and I opened the prints that I had sent off and saw that I got a hit and I couldn’t believe it. My heart was skipping all over the place. I was excited. I was really nervous, and I had to call someone and tell them right away. When I realized I had an identification I requested the exemplars from the FBI, printed all my documentation out, got a second verification. That identification was made to Robert Bossick, Jr. I then called the Texas Attorney General’s Office in Austin with the information that I had and they were able to proceed with their investigation.
Elizabeth Bigham: So I received a phone call from the Texas Internet Crimes against Children Task Force. And they stated that they had identified a live victim in the Augusta, Georgia, area. The information came from a drop box cyber tip that was generated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The images in the drop box account were dated very recently and they believed that the victim was someone that was close to Mr. Bossick.
Charles Kicklighter: I received a call from GBI Special Agent Elizabeth Bigham, who wanted me to locate a Robert Bossick. I was able to locate Bossick, verify that he was working a local Ford dealership in Columbia County.
Elizabeth Bigham: We interviewed Robert Bossick at his place of employment and during that interview he essentially confessed to taking the photographs of the 9-year-old victim.
Robert Bossick: I grabbed my phone and I took pictures.
Elizabeth Bigham: Okay, tell me how you took pictures of her.
Robert Bossick: It was cold in the house. I walked over to her. I went to cover her up and I saw something and I was like…I’d never actually paid attention to her. I saw an infant, I saw a grown woman. I’ve never seen anything in between.
Elizabeth Bigham: Okay, she fell asleep.
Robert Bossick: She was asleep.
Elizabeth Bigham: Okay. Was she the only one at your house?
Robert Bossick: No. Actually we were all together, and she was sleeping directly across from me, sleeping in the chair – an oversized chair, a chair and a half. And I just picked up, compelled to take a picture, take pictures and look.
Male speaker: When you uploaded these pictures for them to get, I mean, was it for money or anything? Did they send you money for pictures or anything like that?
Robert Bossick: We shared back and forth. And then what they would do is they’d post it onto their message and you can look at it. There’s other people out there. I don’t know by names.
Charles Kicklighter: Bossick was friends with our victim’s father. They lived in the same area of the trailer park in Augusta. So the children would go over and visit his children and that was how he had access to her.
Elizabeth Bigham: With the way that technology is today, you don’t have to have a home computer or laptop to obtain child pornography. Most of it is done on mobile device.
Charles Kicklighter: We learned during the interview that he was actually using his cell phone to access the Internet and the Kik Messenger private group.
Elizabeth Bigham: We downloaded the content of Robert Bossick’s phone. We identified approximately 794 images of child pornography and 129 videos of child pornography.
Christopher Troy Clark: Once our office received the case from the GBI agents in Atlanta and here in Augusta, we immediately started reviewing all the materials and realized that this case was serious and we needed to move quickly.
Charles Kicklighter: Bossick gave us consent to assume his online identity, which allowed us to go into the group as him and identify the members who were actively trading child pornography.
Christopher Troy Clark: Because of the chat room in the case on the Kik social media app, we were able to generate a number of leads across this country as well as internationally. I know there were a number of users in that Kik account, all of which are now under investigation.
Charles Kicklighter: This case was unique because it was the first time I had heard of a fingerprint being used from a photograph to identify someone.
Jenny Hall: The identification in this case really meant a lot to me and my staff because typically the evidence that we receive is a lift card and there’s no real information with it. This was an actual photograph with a crime occurring. We knew that if we could identify this print, we’d be identifying the suspect that committed the crime.
Charles Kicklighter: It was very satisfying. That fingerprint identification allowed us to locate the child, rescue the child, and charge the offender with federal crime.
Christopher Troy Clark: We presented the case to the grand jury for the Southern District of Georgia and they returned an indictment in January of 2016, charging Mr. Bossick, Jr. with two counts. One count of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. Because of the evidence in this case and the strength of the evidence in this case, just three months later, in April, Mr. Bossick decided to enter a guilty plea and pled guilty to both counts, one and two, of the indictment. And thereafter the court sentenced Mr. Bossick to 600 months total sentence for his actions in this case.
Elizabeth Bigham: This type of work can bog you down. It’s emotionally draining. It’s mentally draining. So to have seen the victim in real life and literally laid eyes on her and talk to her, it was very odd. It was weird because I’m just not used to seeing them in real life and interacting and being joyful and having fun. It reminded me why I do this job and how you can get through the day to day of having to look at all of the horrible images and videos that we have to look at. It was a reminder that this is where I need to be and this is what I’m here for.
Christopher Troy Clark: And to protect those children across our country and across this world is a true service to our community.
Jenny Hall: I’m a huge fan of NGI. It’s a great tool for our agency and all other law enforcement agencies.
Elizabeth Bigham: Since 2001, when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children started cataloging and keeping statistics of images and videos of child pornography, over 185 million images and videos depicting child pornography have been traded around the world. If you yourself have been exploited or know someone that is exploiting a child, please contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Narrator: To learn more about using NGI services, go to www.fbi.gov. To submit for the Biometric Identification Award, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Narrator: Tap into the power of NGI.
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