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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. IV - Page 3« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of Sebastian F. Latona)

Mr. Latona.
variations of the four basic pattern types which can be additionally subdivided by utilizing certain focal points which occur in those particular patterns, which enable us to actually subdivide our files into millions of groups. Accordingly, when you make a search in the fingerprint file, it can be reduced actually to a matter of minutes, whereas to attempt to set up a palmprint file to the extent of the size of the fingerprint file we have in the FBI would be a practical impossibility, much less a waste of time.
The Chairman.
Approximately how many fingerprints do you have these days?
Mr. Latona.
At the present time, we have the fingerprints of more than 77 million people, and they are subdivided in this fashion: we have two main files; we have the criminal files and we have what are referred to as civil files.
As the names imply, in the criminal files are the fingerprints of criminals, people who have had a prior criminal record or whose fingerprints have been received in connection with an investigation or interrogation for the commission of a crime. In that file we have approximately 15 million sets of fingerprint cards, representing approximately 15 million people.
In our civil files, in which are filed the fingerprints of the various types of applicants, service personnel and the like, we have fingerprints of approximately 62 1/2 million people.
Mr. Eisenberg.
Returning to palmprints, then, as I understand your testimony, they are not as good as fingerprints for purposes of classification, but they are equally good for purposes of identification?
Mr. Latona.
For purposes of identification, I feel that the identifications effected are Just as absolute as are those of fingerprints.
Mr. Eisenberg.
Are experts unanimous in this opinion, Mr. Latona?
Mr. Latona.
As far as I know, yes.
Mr. Eisenberg.
Now, Mr. Latona, I hand to you an object which I will describe for the record as being apparently a brown, homemade-type of paper bag, and which I will also describe for the record as having been found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building near the window, the easternmost window, on the south face of that floor.
I ask you whether you are familiar with this paper bag?
Mr. Latona.
Yes, I am. This is a piece of brown wrapping paper that we have referred to as a brown paper bag, which was referred to me for purposes of processing for latent prints.
Mr. Eisenberg.
And you examined that for latent prints?
Mr. Latona.
Yes; I did.
Mr. Eisenberg.
Mr. Chairman, may I have this admitted into evidence as Commission Exhibit 626?
The Chairman.
It may be admitted.
(The item referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 626 and received in evidence.)
Mr. Eisenberg.
Mr. Latona, do your notes show when you received this paper bag?
Mr. Latona.
I received this paper bag on the morning of November 23, 1963.
Mr. Eisenberg.
And when did you conduct your examination?
Mr. Latona.
I conducted my examination on that same day.
Mr. Eisenberg.
When you had received it, could you tell whether any previous examination had been conducted on it?
Mr. Latona.
When I received this exhibit, 626, the brown wrapper, it had been treated with black dusting powder, black fingerprint powder. There was nothing visible in the way of any latent prints on there at that particular time.
Mr. Eisenberg.
Were you informed whether any fingerprints had been developed by means of the fingerprint powder?
Mr. Latona.
No; I determined that by simply examining the wrapper at that particular time.
Mr. Eisenberg.
Could you briefly describe the powder process?
Mr. Latona.
The powdering process is merely the utilizing of a fingerprint powder which is applied to any particular surface for purposes of developing any latent prints which my be on such a surface.
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