FBI Biometric Identification Award 2015

The FBI’s 2015 Biometric Identification Award recipient is Detective Melvin Grover, III, Norfolk, VA, Police Department, for his role in identifying the perpetrator of several actual and attempted sexual assaults.

Video Transcript

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 the Next Generation Identification, or NGI System. The 2015 Biometric Identification Award is presented to Investigator Melvin O. Grover, III of the Norfolk Police Department.

Corporal Christopher Kear: On August 28, 2008, I was assigned to the Special Crimes Unit. While I was there we got a call for a woman who was raped inside her house. She was lying in bed asleep, somebody work her up, a man she couldn’t really describe. While he was inside he tied her up with an electrical cord from an iron and some other items that he found inside the house. Once he did that he raped her and then stole several items form the house. He then left, a short time later she was able to get herself out of bed, went to the bathroom, locked herself in there and that’s when she called 911. [We] did a canvas door to door for the neighbors that were there and unfortunately we weren’t able to come up with anything. There were no viable leads and nobody saw anything, nobody heard anything, and there was nothing to point us to who may have done this.

Detective Ward Stalker: The point of entry in the bathroom, which was being used as a computer room, there was a closet door, it was open. That was an area of interest. I conducted a latent fingerprint exam for that door and was able to recover a latent fingerprint form the inside of the edge of the door. In the bedroom where the assault occurred there was an iron where the cord was still tied in like a loop knot. The iron had a decent surface that I could fingerprint, so I dusted the iron and there was also a latent fingerprint recovered from the case and main body of the iron.

Detective Melvin Grover, III: There were print cards that were turned in by Detective Stalker, one came from the closet door, and the other from the iron where the cord was used to bind the victim up. Both these prints were good quality and both those prints belonged to the same person. We entered those prints into AFIS and [and] were unable to get any matches. We also…there was DNA that was recovered from the scene and there was no match in the system with that either. We had hit a dead end forensically as far as that case was concerned.

Corporal Kear: About four weeks later, this would have been September 23, 2008, we got a call out to go to an address for some people that had said they had been held against their will and sexually assaulted. Initially, when we got the address it was kind of a pause moment because I recognized the address and when I got out it was actually the same woman. She was standing there dressed in her military uniform for the navy and next to her was her daughter. What I first noticed was that they had tape all over them, in their hair, on their faces, around their wrists, around their legs and it was almost a surreal moment where you walk up and you see the exact same scene, the exact same person and realize the same person was victimized in their same home within a month. [She] said that she had just picked up her daughter up from school and stopped and got something to eat. They come home, once they came home there was a man inside the house. He threatened them. He ended up tying them up and taping them. He carried the mother upstairs to the second bedroom while he forced the daughter to walk in front. Once they were upstairs, they went into the daughter’s room. He taped them up and laid them both down on the bed, at which point he raped the daughter. Before he left he went through the daughter’s room. He found some money that was in there that was inside of a little box. He took the money, left the box and then he left.

Detective Grover: We had another sexual assault at that same address. This time the victims were bound with duct tape. [The] fingerprints recovered from the duct tape and from the box where he had taken U.S. currency. The fingerprints that were recovered I determined were the same person as the prints from the scene from one month earlier. The fingerprint that was recovered from the box on the September attack was entered into AFIS and we again got no results and hit a forensic dead end.

Sergeant Michael Tutor: In this investigation, in the beginning talking to the neighbors through canvassing we found no one that had seen anything on either occasion. Talking to the victims, neither one of them recognized the assailant. We recovered latent prints from both scenes, placed those into the system and did not receive any viable results. The case had gone cold.

Narrator: In 2010, military investigators in Kuwait were searching for a lead in the knife assault and attempted rape of a female Army Officer. A later CODIS check revealed a possible match between the assault in Kuwait and the Norfolk assault. While the two cases were linked through DNA, there were no potential suspects. Leading up to 2013, the Norfolk police department stayed in contact with the military investigators and continued to conduct latent searches against IAFIS.

Assistant Director Stephen L. Morris: At the time, law enforcement was only able to search latent fingerprints against criminal records within IAFIS. Changes were on the way as the upcoming deployment of NGI will soon allow all retained civil records to be included in the latent searches. Anticipating this change, the FBI’s latent forensic support unit contacted Detective Grover to offer manual search of the latent prints against civil records. This search could potentially identify a suspect within the investigation.

Detective Grover: In 2013, the FBI sent us back a disc that had candidates that may match some of the prints that I had submitted through IAFIS that they had run through the civil database. I began going through those prints and found one that was a possible match. We were elated when I first saw on the screen. I immediately hollered for my partner to come over and look to verify that ‘hey, I think we’ve got something’ and contacted the FBI. They then sent me that fingerprint card. When I got the fingerprint card I was able to identify Amin Garcia to the print that had hit through the IAFIS. I then started looking at the other prints and determined that not only had the print from the closet door had been his, but also from the iron that had been used to bind the victim. And then I began looking at the other scene and also found it was his print that was on the duct tape and on the box that had money taken out of it.

Sergeant Michael Tutor: Amin Garcia had previously served as a reservist both in Norfolk and Kuwait, the location of all three attacks. As a result of investigator Grover’s identification of the suspect’s prints, representatives of the Norfolk police department and NCIS got together to develop a strategy to locate and arrest Amin Garcia. On January 9, 2014, through coordinated effort between Norfolk police department, NCIS, and authorities in New York, Amin Garcia was arrested and returned to the Commonwealth of Virginia on February 6, 2014.

Phillip G. Evans, II: After we had concluded the investigation in August 2014, some six years after the offenses in August 2008 and September 2008, we went to trial. The defense hotly contested both the witness testimony and the forensic evidence in this case. However, based upon the latent fingerprint work of Detective Grover the court did convict Amin Garcia of statutory burglary with intent to commit a sexual assault, rape and grand larceny for the August 2008 offenses. In similar fashion, the court convicted the defendant of statutory burglary with intent, abduction with intent to defile, and robbery for the September 2008 offenses. Once Amin Garcia was convicted, the court conducted a full sentencing hearing and at the conclusion of the hearing the court sentenced Mr. Garcia to serve a sentence of life plus 30 years in prison. Based upon the forensic evidence in this case, which led to the identification of Amin Garcia’s DNA profile, he was charged in federal court with the offenses from 2010 in Kuwait and he is pending trial at this time on those offenses.

Ad Morris: NGI not only provides greater latent search accuracy it also allows for searches of civil records and the ability to search latent palm prints against the National Palm Print System. NGI also supports expanded searches of the unsolved latent file to identify suspects within previously unsolved investigations. These enhanced services have resulted in the identification of suspects in major criminal and terrorism investigations throughout the world. How many of your cases could be solved with the help of NGI?

Narrator: Tap into the power of NGI. To learn more about using NGI services go to www.fbi.gov. To submit for the Biometric Identification Award, send an email tofbilatenthit@leo.gov.

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