Upgraded fingerprint technology credited with helping solve 1992 cold case


The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is using a new upgraded fingerprint system. 

  • Pinellas Sheriff’s Office has upgraded to a new fingerprint system
  • New technology better analyzes fingerprint data
  • Technology used to solve 1992 sex battery case

The agency upgraded to a new Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) biometric software less than a year ago. The new program is a biometric identification methodology that uses digital imaging technology to obtain, store, and analyze fingerprint data. 

The AFIS was originally used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in criminal cases.

Pinellas authorities used the system recently to track down a suspect from a 1992 sexual battery cold case. 

“What I’ve seen from the 80’s when it first started until now is just incredibly improved,” said William Shade, the sheriff’s office fingerprint records manager.

Shade said the change in technology during the last several years has changed the way criminals are caught today. The AFIS biometric software is the latest example, using processed fingerprint evidence to drastically improve print matching, accuracy and efficiency. 

“This evidence is on file, it’s been searched before, and that’s not to say it’s not good evidence, it’s the ability to bring that needle in a haystack search to a fruitful conclusion has improved dramatically,” Shade said. 

Last week, thanks to the improved fingerprint technology, deputies arrested Jeffrey Hogston, 49, in the 27-year-old sexual assault case. Fingerprints taken off a business card the victim gave the suspect were unidentifiable in 1992. The prints were re-analyzed recently with the upgraded technology and a match was made. 

Hogston was charged with one count of sexual battery. 

Shade said he expects more convictions to come with the new technology. 

“We have cases on file going back to the 60’s and obviously we never give up,” he said. “On these old cases, the DNA, as improvements in technology come out, you’re able to re-work that evidence, so that’s what we’re doing.” 




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