Executions · Illinois · Newspaper clippings

First person executed based on fingerprint evidence

February 16, 1912
Illinois
Thomas Jennings becomes the first person executed based on fingerprint evidence left at the scene of the crime

Jennings had killed a Chicago homeowner during a burglary gone wrong. The homeowner discovered Jennings and a scuffle ensued, during which time Jennings’ hand touched some wet paint. The wet paint managed to hold an imprint of his fingers which ultimately led to his capture, conviction, and execution. His trial brought nationwide attention to concept of fingerprints and helped shape modern criminology.

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