Friday, May 6, 2011

Tattoos Are Us

We have talked about tattoos and distinctive identification marks before. Just recently, my friend, colleague and author, Dr. Doug Lyle, sent out a blog note that touched on the subject of tattoos. He tells us about Anthony Garcia. Anthony (pictured above) supposedly belongs to the Rivera-13 gang in Pico Rivera, California. He allegedly shot and killed 23-year-old John Juarez in a liquor store four years ago. And he almost got away with it. Almost. Lyle says, “LA County Sheriff’s Department homicide investigator Kevin Lloyd was flipping through a collect of gang member tattoos when he stumbled on Garcia’s image. Imagine his shock when he saw that Garcia had a detailed tattoo of the crime scene splashed across his chest under the banner ‘Rivera Kills.’ It’ll be interesting to see how they use this is court but one thing I know for sure—if you put this in a book, no one would believe it.”

Another Ink Trail 

The FBI site recounts a story about a Los Angeles patrol officer who stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation. While checking the plates, they discovered that the vehicle had been stolen and arrest the driver, Richard Coleman. Of course, police book Coleman and in the process, police write out a description of the man and take photographs of his tattoos for the booking record.

Then about three weeks later, investigators are working on a home invasion case of an elderly couple in Denver, and the victims describe a male wearing a ski mask who broke into their home and beat and robbed them. Through the course of the interview, the victims describe a tattoo of a spider the robber had on his right hand, and the name, “Goldie” in ink across the back of his neck. The Denver police then make a search using N-DEx and pump in the only information they have, including the sex of the perpetrator and the location and descriptions of his tattoos. The search turns up a tattoo match with the Los Angeles booking report, including the criminal history of—you guessed it, Richard Coleman.


An FBI diagram is shown about how N-DEx works, and when this program is fully deployed it will be able to do:
  • Nationwide searches from a single access point;
  •  Searches by “modus operandi” and for clothing, tattoos, associates, cars, etc.—linking individuals, places, and things; 
  • Notifications of similar investigations and suspects; 
  • Identification of criminal activity hotspots and crime trends;
  • Threat level assessments of individuals and addresses; and 
  • Visualization and mapping features
Telling Artifacts

Of course, many military men and those convicted and doing a stretch in prison often ink their experience on their person. We’ve also seen individuals who declare their hatred of others in bold ink somewhere on their body. One of the more famous haters is Charles Mansion who has a swastika tattoo on his forehead (and it’s not even very good ink).

Not Popular with Jurors 

Joe Navarro, ex-FBI agent and author who we’ve had on Women in Crime Ink blog before, says that he has been involved in many occasions where jurors were questioned about the appearance of tattoos—and, in multiple inquiries and with multiple groups of people—that jurors think of tattoos as “… being ‘low status’ (low class) adornments and/ vestiges of youthful indiscretion, which, in general, were not very well liked.” 

Photo Images:


Emily said...

I am not a fan of tattoos and will be really upset if my kids got one. Now they are more socially accepted as "body art" so I wonder if perceptions are changing. My mum is a nurse and says tattoos on elderly people look awful. Bet people don't think of that when they get they as youngsters!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Emily - Tattoos are generally tacky whether you refer to them as "body art" or something else. I have seen a few that looked good but those have been few and far between.

However it's so awesome the way law enforcement can use tattoos through that N-DEx database. So just as strongly as I hope that my kids never gets one I hope that criminals keep getting them. In fact, authorities should set up free tattoo parlors in the prisons to encourage the trend ;-)