The Fleagle Gang
Betrayed by a fingerprint
Jake Fleagle arrest photo taken in Stockton, Calif. in March 1929.
It was Jake's fingerprint that was found in Kansas.
Single fingerprint key to capture
of murdering Kansas bank robbers
True crime from the roaring 20s – precursor of today's crime scene investigation (CSI) shows – begins with the murder of four men as part of a brazen daylight robbery of the First National Bank of Lamar, Colo., on May 23, 1928.
The case in 1928 hinged on a single fingerprint found on a murdered Dighton, Kan., doctor's car – by a Garden City, Kan. police officer who was an amateur fingerprint collector.
The Federal Bureau of Identification (FBI) played a crucial role turning the fingerprint into solid forensic evidence used to find, arrest and convict members of the Fleagle Gang. This case is credited as the first where the FBI was able to identify and help convict a criminal with a single fingerprint. At the time J. Edgar Hoover was the new leader creating his "G-Men." Today the Crime Scene Investigation technicians continue to rely on fingerprints as the first weapon in identifying victims and criminals. The technology is much faster – mostly handled by computers – than it was nearly 100 years ago, but the principle of identification remains the same.