You know you did it – but nobody else does, right?
The perfect murder. It was years ago – 2003, 1978, maybe even as far back as 1969. But you’ve never had that knock on the door. Years ago you dealt with the fear and now you have all but forgotten it. You are relaxed and happy.
The perfect murder.
Or was it?
One person thought they had got away with murder on December 14, 1969 in Houston Texas. A single mother, Diane Jackson, was grabbed as she exited her car on her way to work. Her killer dragged her into a nearby shack where he raped, strangled and stabbed her to death. At the time, despite latent prints left on the car, the Houston PD identified no suspects.
But her perpetrator didn’t reckon on a brother’s determination.
David Maxwell, gave up his thoughts of a law degree and joined the Texas State Highway Patrol and then later the famed Texas Rangers. In 1989, David requested the cold case files and publicity renewed interest in the case. Houston PD began to compare the latent prints to their files and the Texas Department of Public Safety’s (TDPS) Automated Fingerprint Identification System with no success.
In 2003, Jill Kinkade, a TDPS Latent Print Technician, entered the prints into the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). IAFIS is a national fingerprint system that also includes criminal histories of the suspects. The number one hit was James Ray Davis, a repeat offender who had just finished a prison term nine days before the murder.
Davis was quickly located and he received that knock on the door that he likely thought would never happen. Houston PD Sergeant James Ramsey confronted the suspect with the fingerprint evidence and photographs of the crime. Davis admitted to the crimes and on November 24, 2003, 34 years after the crime, he was sentenced to life in prison.
Both James Ramsey and Jill Kinkade were honored by the FBI with the 2011 “Latent Hit of the Year” Award.
So if you are relaxed, confident that your Perfect Murder will never be solved, maybe you should just start looking over your shoulder again and worrying about that next knock on the door.