Virginia Police Investigator Honored for Role in Identifying Violent Perpetrator

The 2015 recipient of the FBI’s Biometric Identification Award (formerly known as the Latent Hit of the Year Award) is a member of Virginia’s Norfolk Police Department (NPD) who played a key role in the identification of a dangerous serial offender. Congratulations to Melvin Grover III, an investigator with the forensic section of the NPD’s detective division.

This Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division award is traditionally given to a latent print examiner or law enforcement officer who solves a major violent crime using the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or IAFIS. But IAFIS—our longstanding fingerprint repository—was replaced last year by the Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, developed to expand the Bureau’s biometric identification capabilities and services, and future awards will involve the use of the NGI system.

The case Grover eventually became involved with started in August 2008, when the NPD received an emergency call from a private residence and responding officers found a female tied up in a locked bathroom. The victim, a U.S. Navy officer, said that she had been sleeping and was awakened by an unknown male brandishing a knife. The man raped her, bound her legs with the cord of an iron, and stole items from the home before fleeing.

Investigator Ward Stalker of the NPD processed evidence from the scene, including latent fingerprints from the iron and a door. Grover searched all the latent print evidence against Virginia’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System but got no results.

In September 2008, the victim and her daughter returned home one day and were confronted by the same attacker. He tied them both up with duct tape and raped the daughter before fleeing the scene. Once again, investigators collected evidence, including latent fingerprints and DNA. The prints were compared against Virginia’s system, which didn’t produce any known suspects but did confirm that the same individual committed both crimes. Investigators also searched the collected DNA evidence against the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, with no results. The case remained unsolved.

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