On May 23, 1928, a heinous crime went unsolved for months, until a fingerprint specialist was able to match a single print from memory. It was the first time a fingerprint had been used to actually find and identify a criminal, and not just prove the guilt of a known suspect.
The story begins when gunshots rang out at a bank in southeastern Colorado. Two men lay dead, and the bank robbers sped away with what would be more than $3 million in today’s dollars. The fugitives committed two more murders, before seeming to vanish. The crime was so violent it grabbed national attention.
Colorado Life editor Matt Masich recently wrote about the bank robbery in Lamar, notable not just for its violence but for its place in forensics history. Investigators pursued the four men for more than a year and 150,000 miles, by car, train and airplane. But it was a single fingerprint that brought the criminal Fleagle Gang to justice.