Fingerprinting: Vucetich adds a ky component to forensics
“I have come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that is as unique as a fingerprint.” by Oprah Winfrey (O Magazine at September 2002)
When two boys are brutally murdered near Buenos Aires in 1982, the police quickly named their mother’s suitor, a man called Velasquez, as the only suspect. However, only a few days later police officer Juan Vucetich (1858)-1925) proved beyond doubt that the murderer was the mother (Francisca Rojas).
Working at the La Plata Police Office of Identification and Statistics, Vucetich’s task was to identify criminals using anthropometry. Less than a decade previously, Frenchman Alphonse Bertillon had established that the measurements of certain parts of the human body never after, therefore giving each individual-in addition to their personality traits and peculiar makings such as tattoos and scars-a distinctive anthropometric identity. His approach, name “Bertillonage,” was widely adopted by police forces as a more reliable system of identification than mere eyewitness accounts and photos.
Being familiar with English scientist Sir Francis Galton’s highly regarded research into fingerprinting (a technique first used in nine-century China to authenticate records of debt), Vucetich became convinced that this was an equally fool proof yet less cumbersome way of identifying criminals. After would have any usefulness in forensics, he started to collect fingerprints from arrested men and classified them, calling his system “dactyloscopy.”
Vucetich’s easily executed system gradually soon replaced Bertillonage, while Dactlioscopia Comparada (“Comparative Dactyleoscopy”), his acclaimed 1904 work, won him several awards.