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Criminalist Back for Cold Case Print Analysis
CINCINNATI (Deb Dixon) -- Criminals who think they got away with something should be nervous Monday night.
A fingerprint examiner known throughout the tri-state retired, but now he's back. The department hired Bill Hilliard back as a civilian. Two days a week he's at Cincinnati's Criminial Investigation section looking at old fingerprints.
This is in a story you'll see only on Local 12 News.
Bill Hilliard analyzed the prints in the Ryan Widmer trial in Warren County. He's the expert who testified about hand prints streaking down the back of the bathtub where wife Sarah Widmer drowned. It was not unsual for other departments to use the Cincinnati Police Criminalist. He's that good.
That's why he's been hired back out of retirment working two days a week examining ridges, dots, and swirls of cold case prints.
"It's not like a job to me, more like a hobby now."
Hilliard enters fingeprints into the FBI's automated fingerprints identification system. It comes back with possible suspects. It's up to him to declare a match. Since he's been back five weeks Hilliard has matched 35 prints from old crime scenes to the person who left them there. That includes two homicides.
Hilliard now knows who left prints at a 2003 homicide scene.
"Right now I'm not sure how involved he is but this is definitely a hit on his fingerprints from a homicide scene. It was an arson case."
Hillard says, "After you get a hit you go over to the homicide guys and say hey, I don't know if this person's been interviewed but here's a new suspect for your homicide case. It really, it's a good feeling."
Hilliard's return is good timing. The department has a high-tech AFIS system it bought with a grant three years ago.
Sgt. Mike Miller said, "We used to have to mail latent prints to FBI. With new system we're able to actually transmit that data. So what used to take upwards of a year, year and a half, now we get it back in a day."
35 matches in 10 days. A message to the bad guys:
"Our message is clear, we're still looking, we haven't forgotten. We're going to continue to follow up."
For Bill Hilliard it is a hobby, for Cincinnati a gift. Hilliard says he would rather find fingerprints at a crime scene because no two people have the same fingerprints, even identical twins. Identical twins do have the same DNA.