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Unique Tattoo Helps Law Enforcement Identify Body
Unique Tattoo Helps Law Enforcement Identify Body

When a body was found in the Kankakee River in the spring of 2016, public safety professionals worked quickly to identify the remains.

What was known about the body at the time of discovery was that it was a badly decomposed black male who had likely been in the water for up to 10 days. Fingerprint detection was impossible due to the decomposition, which meant public safety officials had to look elsewhere for information.

Using the approximate height, weight, age and race of the body, authorities searched through a national missing person's database in an attempt to identify the man, but found no matching results. National databases such as Forensic Filer and TLOxp Transunion are costly and can take months to generate leads.

However, a break in the case came when the county coroner discovered a rose tattoo on the body. This tattoo, which was located on the neck, was enough of a distinguishing characteristic that the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office would have it in their records and corrections system if the man had ever been in custody.

Trent Bukowski, IT Director for the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office, searched through his public safety software database to see if any records of previous inmates had a neck tattoo matching the description. Bukowski had a match within minutes.

Identifying Bodies Using Software

Using the scars, marks and tattoos module inside the corrections system, Bukowski generated a list of 68 current and former inmates who had neck tattoos. Based on the location of the tattoo on the unidentified man's body, the list of possible matches was brought down to eight. By examining the photos of these eight individuals with neck tattoos, investigators were able to match the unidentified man's tattoo to his booking photo found in the corrections system.

With the identity of the body known, the man's family was contacted and officials were able to close the case. Drowning was the official cause of death for the man found in the river, and drugs were also found in his system.

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