Diamond Robbery Solved Through Finger Prints, 1926

Youthful Criminal Claude S. Bowers Returns Most of Loot After Finger Prints Prove His Guilt

THE room was in disorder but at first it looked as if the burglars had left no clues after getting away with the jewels of Mrs. Frank Yarnell.

A. R. Ressler of the Pennsylvania Identification and Investigation Bureau had gone from Reading to Pottstown to investigate the case. With him was his assistant, W. S. Scholl.

Nothing was touched until the finger-print expert had searched the room. After a thorough investigation he found what he wanted, three finger prints on the shiny glass of a mirror that had been on Mrs. Yarnell's dressing table. These prints belonged to no one in the house and Ressler suspected that the burglar had touched the mirror in searching for the jewels.

Image of A. R. Ressler

Numerous suspects were apprehended in the vicinity of Pottstown. These men were finger-printed but none of their hands showed patterns like those on the mirror. At Ressler's office a search of the files was made, but the offender's finger prints were not on any of the cards filed there.

Meanwhile an investigation was made through the jewelry stores in an effort to locate some of the loot. Finally a diamond was found which answered the description of one of Mrs. Yarnell's lost stones. Ressler went into conference with detectives of the Reading police force, and it was suggested that he watch the movement of one Claude S. Bowers, a youth of seventeen who was then on parole for theft. The nature of the robbery was not unlike several which Bowers had been guilty of before his arrest.

The suspect was apprehended and detained for 48 hours during which time he was cross-examined at great length and finger-printed by Mr. Ressler. Even when confronted by the evidence of his own prints which compared identically with the impressions on the mirror, Bowers denied his guilt.

Image of Claude Bowers

Ressler then placed the suspect under arrest and upon delivering him to the Pottstown jail to await the magistrate's hearing, obtained a full confession wherein the accused furnished information as to the hiding of the balance of the loot.

Ressler was able to recover nearly all the jewelry and the accused entered a plea of guilty.

Being unable to furnish bail, Bowers was removed to the Montgomery County jail at Norristown, Pa., pending trial. When Ressler presented his evidence in court, the prisoner was asked what he had to say for himself.

"Nothing," he replied, his eyes fixed on the unquestionable evidence in Ressler's hands.

The boy was sentenced to the Montgomery County jail.

1. "Diamond Robbery Solved Through Finger Prints", Finger Print and Identification Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 10, April 1926, page 5.

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