Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Daniel Williams


Once the body was carted away to the morgue, a coroner's technician inked the victim's hands and pressed his fingertips and palms onto a fingerprint card. The technician then sent the card to LAPD Headquarters at Parker Center, to the Criminal Identification Bureau.

LAPD Headquarters at Parker Center
LAPD Headquarters at Parker Center

At Parker Center, another technician digitally scanned the dead man's fingerprint card into a computer and uploaded it to AFIS, the Automated Fingerprint Identification System. Through some mysterious computer wizardry, AFIS can do in minutes what used to take fingerprint examiners days, even weeks, to do: compare a set of fingerprints to millions of others and spit out any matching records.

AFIS Display (Automated Fingerprint Identification System)

In the case of the dead John/Jane Doe on Compton Avenue, AFIS found a match. The victim was Daniel Williams, age 43, originally from Georgia. Daniel's rap sheet included arrests for prostitution. He also suffered from drug and alcohol problems. His last known address was the Terminal Hotel at East Seventh Street and South Central Avenue, a half mile from where he was found dead.

Daniel Williams
Daniel Williams

In Daniel's room at the Terminal — a low-rent flophouse where guests had the option of paying cash for a week or a month — detectives found little more than telephone numbers.

Daniel remained an enigma, and who shot him and why remained a mystery.


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