Skip to comments.F.B.I. Apologizes for Failing to Identify Murder Suspect
Posted on 05/05/2005 3:28:04 AM PDT by Pharmboy
ATLANTA, May 4 - The F.B.I. defended itself on Wednesday after admitting that it had missed a fingerprint match for a man who the authorities say went on to kill three women and one teenage girl in three states.
The man, Jeremy B. Jones, was arrested for minor offenses in Georgia in January and June 2004. But Mr. Jones was released when computerized fingerprint checks did not turn up a 2000 warrant for him for rape, sodomy and jumping bail in Oklahoma.
The killings, most preceded by abduction and rape, have gripped communities and frustrated investigators. In one case, residents of Forsyth County, Ga., searched for a missing hairstylist for months before the sheriff said Mr. Jones had confessed to killing her.
"The F.B.I. regrets this incident," Thomas Bush III, the assistant director of Criminal Justice Information Services at the bureau, said in a statement released Tuesday in response to inquiries from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The agency said the mistake was "a result of a technical database error, not a human examiner failing to make an appropriate match."
In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Mr. Bush said the system was more than 98 percent accurate and a vast improvement over manually matching fingerprint cards, a process that used to take 15 to 25 days.
The computerized system, called the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, was instituted in 1999 and usually has results in less than two hours, he said.
"It's an exceptional tool for law enforcement," Mr. Bush said. "Is it perfect? No."
Critics of the F.B.I. say the system's image resolution is too low and the agency's faith in it is too high.
"Since they've gotten involved with computers, they've screwed up everything," said Michael Cherry, a biometrics expert in New Jersey.
Mr. Jones, 32, is by many accounts a charming man. He told The Daily Oklahoman that until he developed a methamphetamines habit, people in his hometown, Miami, Okla., thought he could be president.
The drug, he said, led him down the wrong path, one that might have been cut short at his first arrest in Georgia last year had he been correctly identified. At that time, there was a warrant for his arrest on charges stemming from two rapes in 1996 in Oklahoma and a third rape in 2000. For the first two, he pleaded guilty to sexual battery and methamphetamine possession. In 2000, he jumped bail.
By 2004 Mr. Jones was living just west of Atlanta, where he was picked up in January on charges of trespassing. He gave the name John Paul Chapman. His prints were sent to the F.B.I. to run against the national database. No match turned up, and Mr. Jones was released. The F.B.I. created a new record for his prints under the name Chapman.
On Feb. 14, 2004, the body of Katherine Collins, a prostitute, was found in a vacant lot in New Orleans. She had been raped, stabbed and beaten.
In March, a 16-year-old girl, Amanda Greenwell, disappeared from a trailer park in Douglas County, Ga., where the police later realized Mr. Jones had been living. Her remains were found a month later.
On April 15, Patrice Endres, the hairstylist, was abducted from her salon in Forsyth County.
In June, Mr. Jones was arrested for methamphetamine possession. The F.B.I. computers hit only the Chapman prints. Again, he was released.
On Sept. 18, Lisa Marie Nichols, 45, was found dead in her trailer home in Mobile County, Ala. Mr. Jones, still going by the name Chapman and staying nearby, was arrested three days later and charged with capital murder, rape, kidnapping and burglary. The authorities would not say how he came to be a suspect.
When Mobile County officials issued an alert to other jurisdictions describing the crime, Missouri authorities sent notice that a John Paul Chapman with the same birthday and Social Security number was in their custody. After investigating, Mobile County officials determined Mr. Jones's true identity and asked the F.B.I. to review its database. The bureau then discovered its error.
Eleven law enforcement agencies have expressed an interest in talking to Mr. Jones about unsolved crimes; the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation alone interrogated him about four killings. A spokeswoman said Mr. Jones remained a "person of interest" in those cases.
He has since been charged in the Collins and Greenwell killings. In the Endres case, Sheriff Ted Paxton of Forsyth County said Mr. Jones confessed but had not been charged, in part because the body had not been found.
Mr. Jones has made other confessions. Investigators said that he admitted to the Collins killing, and news reports indicated that he told the authorities where he put the bodies of two teenage girls in one of the Oklahoma cases.
Mr. Jones's lawyer in Alabama, Habib Yazdi, said he had sought, unsuccessfully, for a judge to silence his client.
"He would say anything if they would let him talk to his wife and his mother," Mr. Yazdi argued. "He would say, 'Tell me who was missing, I'll tell you that I killed her.' He would say he killed J.F.K. if he had been alive."
Mr. Yazdi said his client was mentally ill and would undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Ariel Hart contributed reporting for this article.
I wonder what the issue was that allowed the FBI computer to miss the print match?
J. Edgar Hoover may have worn a dress , but he ran a tight outfit. No pun intended.
That's pretty funny ("ran a tight outfit").
as we say in GA:
Q: Why does the GBI exist?
A: In order to make the FBI appear competent.
Well now they got him a noose will ensure it dosen't happen again.
What a stupid thing to say.
Are lawyers really college-educated?
Everyone of them that I have dealt with or associated with has been dumb as a damn rock.
But they have a knack for finding the "life's lottery" cases, although I think the nitwit missed the boat on this one, unless he can jack up the billings to fleece the public defender funds.
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