When Distinctive Tattoos Help Solve Crimes And Bust Criminals

Main photo: Anthony Garcia [Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department]

In 2011, a court case was heard to decide whether the content of a tattoo could be considered self-incriminating evidence, and therefore, protected under the Fifth Amendment. In U.S. v. Greer, defendant Greer objected to the use of his tattoo which read “Tangela,” to link him to a vehicle in which ammunition was discovered — that had been rented by a woman named Tangela. In this case, it was determined that the use of his tattoo was not a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights.

In the ongoing double-murder trial of Aaron Hernandez, the gun-related body art he sports is being shown to the jury. In this case, the gun images and the phrase “God Forgives” allegedly relate to Hernandez gunning down two men over a spilled drink in a nightclub. It remains to be seen if the jury will buy that argument.

Related: Aaron Hernandez Charged With 2 Counts Of First-Degree Murder

Here are six more cases which might make you think twice about getting some ink.

Malcolm Spaulding III [Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office]

Malcolm Spaulding III [Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office]

Tattoo links man to sex crimes involving 16-year-old. It was a tattoo on his upper thigh that helped authorities in Florida seal the deal on charges alleging a 39-year-old man who was involved with sex acts with a minor. The 16-year-old reportedly told authorities she was forced to kiss and perform sex acts with Malcolm Spaulding III. She spoke specifically about the tattoo on his thigh. The same tattoo allegedly appeared in photos of a man’s genitals and an explicit video on the phone of the child. In a phone call between the two that was being monitored by authorities, Spaulding said, “I did enjoy it. If this is recording, put me in jail.” [Sun Sentinel]

Lightning strikes twice. It was Dylan Vok’s bad luck that he happened to have a large, red lightning bolt tattooed on his face — as did the perpetrator of a 2012 New York City robbery. The victim said the tattooed man reportedly approached him with a knife and snatched the man’s bag and jewelry. After police searched their database, they found their match: Vok, 28 at the time, who was found living in Detroit. Despite the incriminating tattoo that matched the description the victim gave of his attacker, Vok was able to prove that it was not, in fact, him. He provided time-stamped receipts, time stamps from Facebook posts, and CCTV footage all proving he was in Detroit at the time of the crime. He cleared his name of the crime and was never charged. [Fox 2] [NY Times]

He went thataway. The bizarre case began when Florida authorities were sent on a cat and mouse chase to find a robbery suspect who was described as having a tattoo saying “Loyalty.” Deputies discovered a man hiding waist-deep in a pond claiming that he was just fishing and he lost his fishing rod. He also stated, “The guy who did it went that way.” Sean Torres was arrested, however, after authorities noticed the “Loyalty” tattoo on his abdomen. You can watch his arrest below, as filmed from helicopter. [UPI]

Playboy Bunny tattoo on neck leads to dangerous suspect. A 23-year-old woman was on the New York City subway at 3 A.M. one morning, when a stranger groped her. When she denied the advances of the stranger, he pulled out a gun. The suspect eventually ran off at the Third Avenue-149th Street stop, but the victim had noticed a distinctive tattoo on his neck, of a Playboy Bunny logo. An alert went out to the NYPD, and about an hour later, cops spotted the tattoo. The suspect was promptly arrested. [NY Post]

Man’s RIP tattoo, key clue in murder investigation involving girlfriend. A German man accused of allegedly killing his girlfriend might have inadvertently confessed through his memorial tattoo. The tattoo of the victim’s name and her birth and death dates is standard enough. The catch is that the authorities didn’t know the date of her demise, whereas the suspect surely did. [BBC]

Detective cracks case through gang member’s crime-scene art. Detective Sergeant Kevin Lloyd in Los Angeles was looking through a collection of photos featuring gang members’ tattoo art, when one of them jumped out at him. The image etched on Anthony Garcia’s skin showed a detailed scene of a murder in a liquor store — a murder that had stumped the detective for more than four years. The image matched the facts of the unsolved case so exactly that even the trajectory of the bullets was accurate. Lloyd referred to the tattoo as a “crime-scene sketch and a confession.” The detective’s hard work, combined with the tattoo and an undercover operation, led to a murder conviction. [LA Times] [ABCNews]

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Main photo: Anthony Garcia [Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department]

  • Martha Bartha

    Mindless idiots have tattoos!

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