FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Fort Wayne police arrested a man they say may be connected to at least one of the burglaries in a series that has hit several southwest neighborhoods.
"The uniformed officer who made the scene did a very thorough job looking for prints," Michael Joyner, a spokesman for the Fort Wayne Police Department, said.
Police responded to a burglary call in the 4000-block of S. Harrison Street around 1:15 a.m. Saturday. Now Christian William Bradley, 21, is charged with Class B Felony Residential Burglary. He had his initial hearing in court Wednesday morning.
Latent fingerprints, or prints that aren't obvious to the naked eye, were lifted from the inside and outside of the window where the suspect went into the house on Harrison.
"If not for all the officers out there choosing to do a good job and take the time to look for all that little latent print evidence that could be there, it's not guaranteed it will be there, but it could be, if not for them, we couldn't do this," Eric Black, one of three certified Latent Fingerprint Examiners at the police department, said.
Computer technology is helping solve crimes. When officers bring a fingerprint back from a crime scene, Black and the other examiners scan it into the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS.
Each fingerprint has a unique pattern of loops, arches and whirls. The examiners mark all those arrangements on the fingerprint image and then isolate those areas of the print. The computer than scans its database of more than 100,000 fingerprints to find matches.
"It's looking for pattern, for those ridge arrangements, in a similar location," Black said.
Once the computer presents a list of possibilities, an examiner has to also visually check that all the markers match. While the number one computer hit is often correct, sometimes the examiner has to keep checking down the list of possible matches to find an exact match. A second examiner would then confirm the match before sending the person's information to detectives.
In Saturday's burglary, several prints were lifted from the scene.
"We ended up identifying that person 14 times," Black said.
Court documents said Bradley admitted to opening the window, but said he helped a second person go inside. He said that person had the intent to "rob" the house. Bradley said he didn't go inside the house.
The probable cause said a 16-year-old boy was in the home watching TV when he heard a noise. He looked up and saw a man in a gray hooded sweatshirt. That suspect then ran out the front door and apparently ripped the door knob off on his way out.
Every time someone is arrested, he or she will have digital fingerprints and palm prints taken. When a fingerprint lifted from a scene is run through the system, it would only find a match if the suspect had been arrested before.
Bradley was in the system from arrests in 2011 on several charges including resisting law enforcement using a vehicle, receiving stolen auto parts, and illegal possession of alcohol. Under terms of a plea agreement, Bradley received a suspended sentence and probation. When he violated his probation, according to court documents, Bradley's suspended sentence was revoked.
If a fingerprint scan does not come back with a match, it's entered into the system in the unsolved latent database. If someone is arrested for the first time, they could come up as a match for a suspect in a past crime.
Black gave the example of a print found at a burglary scene that didn't have a hit in the database. Then, years later, a person was arrested for not using a sidewalk where provided. When their fingerprints were entered, it came up as a match for the unsolved burglary.
Joyner said there were also several other burglaries in the same area Saturday morning, but right now they can't connect Bradley to them.
In the past few months, there have been dozens of burglaries in near-by neighborhoods. NewsChannel 15 learned there were some prints found at some of those scenes, but a match didn't hit in the database yet.
"We don't have anything that links [Bradley] to them at this time, however, he certainly is a suspect and our investigation process continues," Joyner said.
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