Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fingerprint Bank

It is a good idea that the local databanks have been linked to the national, and computer technology continues to help us all, particularly families trying to find what has happened to loved ones that may have disappeared years ago.

Fingerprint bank gives names to the nameless
Long-deceased bodies are finally identified by FBI's new technology.
By M.S. Enkoji - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, August 26, 2007

In the gathering darkness of a winter evening, three men down on their luck got into a tussle along Richards Boulevard in northern Sacramento.

As fists flew that January night in 1988, they tripped over something on the ground: the decomposing body of a man in brown laced boots, a checked, flannel shirt and jeans.

A few years later, a homeless man searching for a place to sleep in a tunnel near 8th Street in downtown Sacramento came across the body of a man, tucked into a sleeping bag upon a foam pad. He called 911.

Both of the dead men, carefree spirits who had a few run-ins with the law, became part of the gallery of unidentified bodies that Sacramento County takes charge of until a name turns up.

The prospect of identifying the long-nameless deceased is improving. The FBI's national data bank of fingerprints is expanding. Because of more efficient filing and identification, some police agencies are sending all the fingerprint sets they collect to the national database, including those of misdemeanor offenders.

Which is how the names Noel Everett Wait and Alfred Cardinal finally matched the fingerprints that Sacramento County deputy coroners had tried to identify for years.

Wait, 45, was a longtime drifter, a California native who ended up sleeping in downtown Sacramento, weathered beyond his years by the time he was found inside his sleeping bag.

Cardinal, 63, was apparently living under a hedge on Richards Boulevard. He had died of natural causes before the men stumbled over him that winter evening.