Fingerprint scanners identify bodies, crime suspects within seconds

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- What once took days or weeks can now be done almost immediately. The Missouri State Highway Patrol is using handheld fingerprint scanners that are assisting investigators to identify crime suspects, crash victims, and deceased individuals.

"You have an officer, whether it was a trooper or police officer that has this technology, they go right there to the scene and can identify the person within seconds," said Sgt. John Lueckenhoff, Missouri State Highway Patrol.

The patrol has had the high-tech tools for a couple of years now. But, situations are allowing the equipment to prove its worth more and more.

The devices, which are the size of a cell phone, scan fingerprints and check them with a database. It was the tool used to help identify Devin Zoey Briley, whose body was found Wednesday off Farm Road 83 between Republic and Bois D' Arc. Lueckenhoff said that is one example of using eh scanners during homicide investigations.

"The person doesn't have any identification on them, there is nothing that is identifiable as far as tattoos, scars, clothing, and there is no one showing up saying, "we know who that person is," said Lueckenhoff.

More often than not, it's used to verify the identity of living people, such as crime suspects or people being booked into a jail.

Lueckenhoff said, "Unfortunately, on occasion, some people don't like to be exactly honest with who they are. Maybe there is something going on, like a warrant or something."

The database includes people fingerprinted during contact with law enforcement. Also, if you have ever had your prints were taken for any reason, such as employment screenings, or background checks

"If you have ever been fingerprinted in Missouri, you are in the system," Lueckenhoff said.

Another use is for identifying an unknown person found alive but unconscious after a car crash or other accident.

The system is also linked to national databases listing missing persons, or people with warrants.

"It doesn't matter whether they are alive, unconscious, or deceased, as long as they have a right and left index finger that can be printed, we will be able to identify them.

The highway patrol says there are 15 to 20 of the scanners in use throught Troop D, which covers Southwest Missouri. The Greene County Sheriffs Office, nor the Springfield Police Department currently have them. However, troopers provieing mutual aid can use them when responding in those local jurisdictions.