The CHAIRMAN. The Commission will be in order.
Mr. Latona, the purpose of today's hearing is to take your testimony and that of Arthur Mandella. Mr. Mandella is a fingerprint expert from the New York City Police Department. We are asking both of you to give technical information to the Commission.
Will you raise your right hand and be sworn?
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. LATONA. I do.
The CHAIRMAN. You may be seated. Mr. Eisenberg will conduct the examination.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, could you state your full name and give us your position?
Mr. LATONA. My full name is Sebastian Francis Latona. I am the supervisor of the latent fingerprint section of the identification division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mr. EISENBERG. What is your education, Mr. Latona?
Mr. LATONA. I attended Columbia University School of Law, where I received degrees of LL.B. LL.M., M.P.L.
Mr. EISENBERG. And could you briefly outline your qualifications as a fingerprint expert?
Mr. LATONA. Well, I have been with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a little more than 32 years. I started in the identification division as a student fingerprint classifier, and since that time I have worked myself up into where I am now supervisor of the latent fingerprint section.
Mr. EISENBERG. Could you approximate the number of fingerprint examinations you have made?
Mr. LATONA. Frankly, no. There have been so many in that time that I would not be able to give even a good guess.
Mr. EISENBERG. Would the figure run in the thousands or hundreds?
Mr. LATONA. So far as comparisons are concerned, in the millions.


Mr. EISENBERG. Have you testified in court?
Mr. LATONA. I have testified in Federal courts, State courts, commissioners' hearings, military courts, and at deportation proceedings.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Chief Justice, I ask that this witness be accepted as an expert.
The CHAIRMAN. The witness is qualified.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, could you briefly outline for us the theory of fingerprint identification?
Mr. LATONA. The principle of fingerprint identification is based on the fact primarily that the ridge formations that appear on the hands and on the soles of the feet actually are created approximately 2 to 3 months before birth, on the unborn child, and they remain constant in the same position in which they are formed until the person is dead and the body is consumed by decomposition.
Secondly, the fact that no two people, or no two fingers of the same person, have the same arrangement of these ridge formations, either on the fingers, the palms, or the soles and toes of the feet. Plus the fact that during the lifetime of a person this ridge formation does not change, it remains constant--from the time it is formed until actual destruction, either caused by voluntary or involuntary means, or upon the death of the body and decomposition.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, do you have any personal experience indicating the uniqueness of fingerprints?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; I do. My experience is based primarily upon the work which I have actually done in connection with my work with the FBI. I have had the experience of working on one case in particular in which millions of comparisons were actually and literally made with a small portion of a fingerprint which was left on a piece of evidence in connection with this particular case, which was a kidnapping case.
This fragmentary latent print which we developed consisted of approximately seven to eight points. Most fingerprints will have in them an average roughly of from 85 to about 125.
This fragmentary latent print was compared with literally millions of single impressions for the purpose of trying to effect an identification. And we were unable, over a lengthy period while we were making these millions of comparisons, not able to identify these few fragmentary points.
The important thing is simply this; that on the basis of that fragmentary print, it was not possible to determine even the type of pattern that the impression was. Accordingly, we had to compare it with all types of fingerprint patterns, of which there are really four basic types--the arch, tented arch, loop, and whorl. And we are still making comparisons in that case, and we have not been able to identify these few points.
Now, that means simply this--that the theory that we are going on an assumption that people do not have the same fingerprints--and we find it not necessary to compare, say for example, a loop pattern with a whorl pattern, and as there is a possibility that, it is contended by some of these so-called authorities, that maybe the points that you find in a loop may be found in the same arrangement in a whorl--is not true. I think that that case, a practical case we have actually worked on, disproves that theory so strongly in my mind that I am convinced that no two people can possibly have the same fingerprints.
Mr. EISENBERG. That is, you had a print with seven points, and these same seven points appeared in none of the millions----
Mr. LATONA. Of the millions that we actually compared over a period---well, since 1937. You may recall the case. It was the Matson kidnaping case out in Tacoma, Wash. That is one of only three major kidnaping cases the FBI has not yet solved.
Mr. EISENBERG. Are palmprints as unique as fingerprints?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; palmprints are. They are not as useful for purposes of setting up a me in order to conduct searches, for the simple reason that there are not as many variations of patterns occurring with any frequency in the palms as occur on the tips of the fingers. That is primarily why the fingertips are used--because you have 10 digits, and there is a possibility of finding


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.


Now, we use powder in the FBI only on objects which have a hard, smooth, nonabsorbent finish, such as glass, tile, various types of highly polished metals and the like.
In the FBI we do not use powder on paper, cardboard, unfinished wood, or various types of cloth. The reason is that the materials are absorbent. Accordingly, when any finger which has on it perspiration or sweat comes in contact with an absorbent material, the print starts to become absorbed into the surface. Accordingly,. when an effort is made to develop latent prints by the use of a powder, if the surface is dry, the powder will not adhere.
On the other hand, where the surface is a hard and smooth object, with a nonabsorbent material, the perspiration or sweat which may have some oil in it at that time may remain there as moisture. Accordingly, when the dry powder is brushed across it, the moisture in the print will retain the powder giving an outline of the impression itself.
These powders come in various colors. We utilize a black and a gray. The black powder is used on objects which are white or light to give a resulting contrast of a black print on a white background. We use the gray powder on objects which are black or dark in order to give you a resulting contrast of a white print on a dark or black background.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, how did you proceed to conduct your examination for fingerprints on this object?
Mr. LATONA. Well, an effort was made to remove as much of the powder as possible. And then this was subjected to what is known as the iodine-fuming method, which simply means flowing iodine fumes, which are developed by what is known as an iodine-fuming gun--it is a very simple affair, in which there are a couple of tubes attached to each other, having in one of them iodine crystals. And by simply blowing through one end, you get iodine fumes.
The iodine fumes are brought in as close contact to the surface as possible And if there are any prints which contain certain fatty material or protein material, the iodine fumes simply discolor it to a sort of brownish color. And of course such prints as are developed are photographed for record purposes.
That was done in this case here, but no latent prints were developed.
The next step then was to try an additional method, by chemicals. This was subsequently processed by a 3-percent solution of silver nitrate. The processing with silver nitrate resulted in developing two latent prints. One is what we call a latent palmprint, and the other is what we call a latent fingerprint.
Mr. EISENBERG. Can you briefly explain the action of the silver nitrate?
Mr. LATONA. Silver nitrate solution in itself is colorless, and it reacts with the sodium chloride, which is ordinary salt which is found in the perspiration or sweat which is exuded by the sweat pores.
This material covers the fingers. When it touches a surface such as an absorbent material, like paper, it leaves an outline on the paper.
When this salt material, which is left by the fingers on the paper, is immersed in the silver nitrate solution, there is a combining, an immediate combining of--the elements themselves will break down, and they recombine into silver chloride and sodium nitrate. We know that silver is sensitive to light. So that material, after it has been treated with the silver nitrate solution, is placed under a strong light. We utilize a carbon arc lamp, which has considerable ultraviolet light in it. And it will immediately start to discolor the specimen. Wherever there is any salt material, it will discolor it, much more so than the rest of the object, and show exactly where the latent prints have been developed. It is simply a reaction of the silver nitrate with the sodium chloride.
That is all it is.
Mr. EISENBERG. Do you frequently find that the silver nitrate develops a print in a paper object which the iodine fuming cannot develop?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; I would say that is true, considerably so. We have more success with silver nitrate than we do with the iodine fumes.
The reason we use both is because of the fact that this material which is exuded by the fingers may fall into one of two main types--protein material and salt material. The iodine fumes will develop protein material. Silver nitrate will develop the salt material.


The reason we use both is because we do not know what was in the subject's fingers or hands or feet. Accordingly, to insure complete coverage, we use both methods. And we use them in that sequence. The iodine first, then the silver nitrate. The iodine is used first because the iodine simply causes a temporary physical change. It will discolor, and then the fumes, upon being left in the open air, will disappear, and then the color will dissolve. Silver nitrate, on the other hand, causes a chemical change and it will permanently affect the change. So if we were to use the silver nitrate process first, then we could not use the iodine fumes. On occasion we have developed fingerprints and palmprints with iodine fumes which failed to develop with the silver nitrate and vice versa.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, looking at that bag I see that almost all of it is an extremely dark brown color, except that there are patches of a lighter brown, a manila-paper brown. Could you explain why there are these two colors on the bag?
Mr. LATONA. Yes. The dark portions of the paper bag are where the silver nitrate has taken effect. And the light portions of the bag are where we did not process the bag at that time, because additional examinations were to be made, and we did not wish the object to lose its identity as to what it may have been used for. Certain chemical tests were to be made after we finished with it. And we felt that the small section that was left in itself would not interfere with the general overall examination of the bag itself.
Mr. EISENBERG. That is, the small section of light brown corresponds to the color which the bag had when you received it?
Mr. LATONA. That is the natural color of the wrapper at the time we received it.
Mr. EISENBERG. And the remaining color is caused by the silver nitrate process?
Mr. LATONA. That is correct.
Mr. EISENBERG. Does paper normally turn this dark brown color when treated by silver nitrate?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; it does. It will get darker, too, as time goes on and it is affected by light.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, does the silver nitrate process permanently fix the print into the paper?
Mr. LATONA. Permanent in the sense that the print by itself will not disappear. Now, it can be removed, or the stains could be removed chemically, by the placing of the object into a 2 percent solution of mercuric nitrate, which will remove the stains and in addition will remove the prints. But the prints by themselves, if nothing is done to it, will simply continue to grow darker and eventually the whole specimen will lose its complete identity.
The CHAIRMAN. May I ask a question here?
So I understand from that that this particular document that you are looking at, or this bag, will continue to get darker as time goes on?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; it will.
The CHAIRMAN. From this date?
Mr. LATONA. That's right.
Mr. EISENBERG. Returning to the prints themselves, you stated I believe that you found a palmprint and a fingerprint on this paper bag?
Mr. LATONA. That is correct.
Mr. EISENBERG. Did you find any other prints?
Mr. LATONA. No; no other prints that we term of value in the sense that I felt that they could be identified or that a conclusion could be reached that they were not identical with the fingerprints or palmprints of some other person.
Mr. EISENBERG. Did you attempt to identify the palmprint and fingerprint?
Mr. LATONA. The ones that I developed; yes.
Mr. EISENBERG. Were you able to identify these prints?
Mr. LATONA. I--the ones I developed, I did identify.
Mr. EISENBERG. Whose prints did you find them to be?
Mr. LATONA. They were identified as a fingerprint and a palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald.


Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, what known sample of Lee Harvey Oswald's prints, finger and palm, did you use in making this identification?
Mr. LATONA. The known samples I used were the ones forwarded by our office at Dallas, the Dallas office.
Mr. EISENBERG. Do you have those with you?
Mr. LATONA. I do.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, you have handled me three cards, one of which appears to be a standard fingerprint card, and the other two of which appear to be prints of the palms of an individual. All these cards are marked "Lee Harvey Oswald."
Are these the cards which you received from your Dallas office which you just described as being the prints of Lee Harvey Oswald?
Mr. LATONA. They are.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Chairman, I would like these admitted into evidence as 627, 628, and 629. I would like the standard fingerprint card, 10-print card, admitted as 627.
The CHAIRMAN. It will be admitted.
(The item referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 627 and received in evidence.)
Mr. EISENBERG. I would like the card which is--which appears to be the left palm admitted as 628.
The CHAIRMAN. It will be admitted.
(The item referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 628 and received in evidence.)
Mr. EISENBERG. I would like the card which is. the right pall admitted as 629.
The CHAIRMAN. That may be admitted.
(The item referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 629 and received in evidence.)
Mr. LATONA. May I ask a question, please? Would it be possible to accept copies instead of the originals?
The CHAIRMAN. They are identical?
Mr. LATONA. These are true and faithful reproductions of the originals which Mr. Eisenberg has.
The CHAIRMAN. The originals, then, may be withdrawn, and the copies substituted for them.
Mr. EISENBERG. Shall I mark those 627, 628, and 629 in the same manner as the originals?
The CHAIRMAN. Exactly.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, do you know how the known samples we have just marked 627, 628, and 629 were obtained?
Mr. LATONA. How they were obtained?
Mr. EISENBERG. Yes. Can you tell the process used in obtaining them?
Mr. LATONA. You mean in recording the impressions?
Mr. EISENBERG. Yes, sir.
Mr. LATONA. Fingerprints are recorded by the use of a printer's ink, heavy black ink, which is first placed on a smooth surface, such as glass or metal, and it is rolled out in a smooth, even film. Then the subject's fingers are brought in contact with the plate by a rolling process, rolling the finger from one complete side to the other complete side, in order to coat the finger with an even film of this heavy ink. Then the finger is brought in contact with a standard fingerprint card and the finger again is rolled from one complete side to the opposite side in order to record in complete detail all of the ridge formation which occurs on the tip of the finger, or the first joint, which is under the nail.
Mr. EISENBERG. Did you received a second submission of known prints?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; we did.
Mr. EISENBERG. When did you receive those?
Mr. LATONA. Those were received in the identification division on November 29, 1963.
Mr. EISENBERG. Did this include two palls, or was this simply----
Mr. LATONA. No; it did not. It was simply a fingerprint card.


Mr. EISENBERG. Do you know why the second submission was made?
Mr. LATONA. The second submission was made, I believe, in order to advise us formally that the subject, Lee Harvey Oswald, had been killed, and it has the notation on the back that he was shot and killed 11-24-63 while being transferred in custody.
Mr. EISENBERG. And did you examine that second submission?
Mr. LATONA. Yes, I did.
Mr. EISENBERG. And is it in all respects identical to the first?
Mr. LATONA. The fingerprints appearing on this card are exactly the same as those that appear on the card which you have previously referred to as Commission Exhibit 627.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, do you have a copy of the second submission?
Mr. LATONA. No; I do not.
Mr. EISENBERG. I wonder whether you could supply one to us at a later date.
Mr. LATONA. Yes; I could. If you feel it necessary, you can take this one.
Mr. EISENBERG. Well, it is up to you. We will accept a copy.
The CHAIRMAN. If you wish, you may substitute a copy for it later.
Mr. LATONA. All right
The CHAIRMAN. And then you may withdraw it.
Mr. EISENBERG. May I mark that as 630, with the understanding that it can be substituted for by a copy?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes. (The item referred to was marked-Commission Exhibit No. 630 and received in evidence.)
(At this point, Representative Ford entered the hearing room.)
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, could you tell us what portion of the palm of Lee Harvey Oswald was reproduced on the paper bag, Exhibit 626?
Mr. LATONA. The portion of the palm which was identified was of the right palm, and it is a portion which is sometimes referred to as the heel. It would be the area which is near the wrist on the little-finger side. I have a photograph here which has a rough drawing on it showing the approximate area which was identified.
The CHAIRMAN. Which hand did you say?
Mr. LATONA. The right hand.
Mr. EISENBERG. That little finger, is that sometimes called the ulnar side?
Mr. LATONA. The ulnar side; yes, sir.
Mr. EISENBERG. Is this a true photograph made by you?
Mr. LATONA. This is a true photograph of one of the exhibits you have received.
Mr. EISENBERG. That is to say, the exhibit showing the right palmprint, which is marked 629?
Mr. LATONA. That's correct.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Chairman, may I have this photograph admitted into evidence as 631?
The CHAIRMAN. It may be admired.
(The item referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 631 and received in evidence.)
Mr. EISENBERG. Do you have another photograph there?
Mr. LATONA. I have here a photograph which is a slight enlargement of the latent palmprint developed on the bag. It has a red circle drawn around it showing the palmprint which was developed.
Mr. EISENBERG. Is that a true photograph made by you?
Mr. LATONA. This is. It is approximately a time-and-a-half enlargement of the palmprint which I developed on the paper bag.
Mr. EISENBERG. May I have that admitted, Mr. Chairman, as 632?
The CHAIRMAN. It may be admitted by that number.
(The item referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 632 and received in evidence.)
Mr. EISENBERG. Having reference to the paper bag, Exhibit 626, Mr. Latona, could you show us where on that bag this portion of the palm, the ulnar portion of the palm, of Lee Harvey Oswald was found?


Mr. LATONA. This little red arrow which I have placed on the paper bag shows the palmprint as it was developed on the wrapper.
The CHAIRMAN. Is it visible to the naked eye?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; it is. I think you can see it with the use of this hand magnifier.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, could you mark that arrow "A"--the arrow you have Just referred to on Exhibit 626, pointing to the portion of the palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald?
The CHAIRMAN. What is the number of the exhibit that it is on?
Mr. EISENBERG. That is 626.
Mr. LATONA. May I--I tell you, I am going to furnish you a copy of this, but I cannot make a copy unless I have it.
Mr. EISENBERG. We can lend it to you for that purpose.
The CHAIRMAN. You may have it to make the copy.
Mr. LATONA. And I will send you the copy. Thank you.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, I believe you said you also found a fingerprint of Lee Harvey Oswald on this paper bag, 626.
Mr. LATONA. Yes; I did.
Mr. EISENBERG. Can you tell us what finger and what portion of the finger of Lee Harvey Oswald you identified that print as being?
Mr. LATONA. The fingerprint which was developed on the paper bag was identified as the right--as the left index fingerprint of Lee Harvey Oswald. I also have a slight enlargement of it, if you care to see it.
Mr. EISENBERG. You are showing us a true photograph of the actual fingerprint?
Mr. LATONA. As it appeared on the bag, slightly enlarged.
Mr. EISENBERG. May I have that admitted as 633, Mr. Chairman?
The CHAIRMAN. It may be admitted.
(The item referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 633 and received in evidence.)
Mr. EISENBERG. You are holding another photograph, Mr. Latona?
Mr. LATONA. I have here a photograph of the fingerprint card, of the one which I just took back, and it is actually a true reproduction of the front of the card. That was Exhibit 630. This one here is a true reproduction of the front of Exhibit 630.
Mr. EISENBERG. And have you circled on that, the photograph which you are holding, the left index finger?
Mr. LATONA. That's right.
Mr. EISENBERG. And would you show that to the Chief Justice? That is a true reproduction, Mr. Latona?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; it is.
Mr. EISENBERG. I would like that admitted as 633A.
The CHAIRMAN. It may be admitted.
(The item referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 633A and received in evidence.)
Mr. LATONA. Could that take the place of this?
Mr. EISENBERG. I think our exhibits would be confused.
Mr. LATONA. Very well.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, what portion of the left index finger was that, Mr. Latona?
Mr. LATONA. That is the area which is to the left, or rather to the right of the index finger.
Mr. EISENBERG. On which joint?
Mr. LATONA. On the first joint, which is under the nail.
Mr. EISENBERG. Is that known as the distal phalanx?
Mr. LATONA. That's right.
Mr. EISENBERG. So it is the right side of the distal phalanx of the left index finger?
Mr. LATONA. That is correct. Now, that would be looking at an impression made by the finger. If you were to look at the finger, you would raise the finger up and it would be on the opposite side, which would he on the left side of the distal phalanx.


Mr. EISENBERG. Now, when we were talking before about the palmprint, and you said that it was on the right side you said it was on the ulnar portion of the palm?
Mr. LATONA. That is correct.
Mr. EISENBERG. And that is looking at the palm itself?
Mr. LATONA. Looking at the palm itself.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, I would rather----
Mr. LATONA. That would still be the ulnar side when you look at the print.
Mr. EISENBERG. Why don't we use ulnar and radial then when we refer to portions of fingerprints, ulnar referring to the little-finger side, and radial to the thumb side? So referring to the left index fingerprint now, that would correspond to the ulnar side of the left index finger of Lee Harvey Oswald?
Mr. LATONA. That is correct.
The CHAIRMAN. Congressman Ford, I'm going to leave now to attend a session of the Court. If you will preside in my absence, Mr. Dulles will be here in a few moments, and. if you are obliged go leave for your work in the Congress, he will preside until I return.
(At this point, Mr. Dulles entered the hearing room and the Chairman left the hearing room.)
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, could you show us where on the paper bag, Exhibit 626, this left index finger was developed by you?
Mr. LATONA. The left index fingerprint was developed in the area which is indicated by this small red arrow.
Mr. EISENBERG. Could you put a "B" on that arrow to which you are pointing?
Mr. Latona, did you make comparison charts of the known and latent or the inked and latent palmprints of Lee Harvey Oswald which you have been referring to as found on this paper bag, 626?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; I did.
Mr. EISENBERG. Could you----
Mr. DULLES. Shouldn't you change that question a little bit? I don't think you should say Lee Harvey Oswald at this point.
Mr. EISENBERG. He has identified the print as being that of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Mr. DULLES. Excuse me.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, could you show us that chart and discuss with us some of the similar characteristics which you found in the inked and latent print which led you to the conclusion that they were identical?
Mr. LATONA. Yes. I have here what are referred to as two charted enlargements. One of the enlargements, which is marked "Inked Left Index Fingerprint. Lee Harvey Oswald" is approximately a 10-time enlargement of the fingerprint which appears on Exhibit 633A. The other enlargement, which is marked "Latent Fingerprint on Brown Homemade Paper Container," is approxi- mately a 10-time enlargement of the latent fingerprint which was developed on the brown wrapping paper indicated by the red arrow, "B."
Mr. EISENBERG. And that also corresponds to the photograph you gave us, which is now Exhibit 633?
Mr. LATONA. That's correct.
Representative FORD. And the arrow, "B," is on Exhibit 626?
Mr. LATONA. That's correct. Now, in making a comparison of prints to determine whether or not they were made by the same finger, an examination is made first of all of the latent print.
An examination is made to see if there are in the latent print any points or characteristics which are unique to the person making the determination. In other words, in looking at the latent print, for example, this point, which is marked "1," is a ridge. The black lines are what we term ridges. They were made by the ridge formations on the fingers. That is, when the finger came in contact with the brown paper bag, it left an outline in these black lines on the brown paper bag.
Now, in looking at the latent print in the enlargement you notice there is one black line that appears to go upward and stop at the point which has been indicated as point No. 1.


Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, may I interrupt you there for a second.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to introduce this chart, this comparison chart, as an exhibit.
Representative FORD. It may be admitted.
Mr. EISENBERG. That will be 634.
(The item referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 634 and was received in evidence.)
Mr. LATONA. Looking further we notice----
Mr. DULLES. Could I just ask a question about this? This is referring to Exhibit 634. I want to make sure what line we are talking about. You are talking about a black line that goes up as though two rivers came together there, and here is the point where this line stops.
Mr. LATONA. That's correct.
Mr. DULLES. No. 1. This is the latent?
Mr. LATONA. This is the imprint. This is the print on the bag.
Mr. DULLES. Yes.
Mr. LATONA. The contrast here is not as good as it is here.
Mr. DULLES. This goes up here, and these two lines come in there, so there is the point where your black line stops?
Mr. LATONA. Right at the end of the red line which is marked "1."
Mr. DULLES. Thank you.
Mr. LATONA. Now, looking further we find this point that has been indicated as No. 3. And No. 3 is located----
Mr. DULLES. Why do you skip 2?
Mr. LATONA. I am going to come to that.
Mr. DULLES. I see.
Mr. LATONA. I am going to tie these three in. Point No. 3 is above and to the left one ridge removed from--one black line-- -there is No. 3. Now looking further, we can look over to the right, or rather to the left, and we notice that one ridge removed from No. 3 are two ridges that come together and give you a point which has been indicated as No. 2.
Mr. EISENBERG. Is that what you might call a bifurcation?
Mr. LATONA. That is referred to, generally speaking, as a bifurcation.
Mr. EISENBERG. That is No. 2?
Mr. LATONA. And No. 1 is what is referred to as a ridge end.
Now, keeping those three points in mind, and the relationship they have to each other, if this print here, the inked print, were made by the same finger which left the print on the brown paper bag, we should be able to find those three points in the same approximate area, having the same relationship to each other.
Now, at this point we have not made a determination of any kind as to whether they are or are not identical. Examining the inked fingerprint, bearing in mind the general formation of this print that we see here, the latent print, we would examine the inked print and that would direct us to this approximate area here. And looking, we find sure enough there is point No. l--or rather there is a point which appears to be the same as point No. 1 here. Bearing in mind how we located points Nos. 2 and 3, we would then check the inked print further and say to ourselves, "If this print were the same, there should be a point No. 2 in exactly the same relationship to No. 1 as there was in this latent print." We look over here one, two, three, four--there is point No. 2.
Mr. EISENBERG. That point, or that count that you are making, is of ridges between the first and second point?
Mr. LATONA. Between the points, that's right. Then we have over here one, two, three, four. And bearing in mind again how point No. 3 bears a relationship to point No. 2, we should find point No. 3 in the same relative position in the inked print that it occurs in the latent print. Counting over again--one we find a point which could be considered No. 3.
Now, at this time we have coordinated three points. We have tied three points together. On that basis, by themselves, we would not give a definite determination. Accordingly, we would pursue a further examination to determine whether there are other characteristics which occur.
Mr. DULLES. How many times is that magnified?
Mr. LATONA. This is magnified approximately 10 times.


Then we would pick up point No. 5. We notice point No. 5 is again one of those bifurcations which occurs above and slightly to the left of point No. 3. We also notice that it envelops point No. 1--as we go down further, slightly to the right of point No. 5, we notice that bifurcation envelops point No. 1. we would look around for such a characteristic in the latent print.
If the same finger made those two prints, we have to find point 5. And looking over here we find such a formation, we look at it, and sure enough it envelops point No. 1-- exactly the same relationship to each other appears in the latent print, and in the inked print. It has the same relationship to point No. 3 that occurs in the latent print as occurs in the inked print. Then we would pick up point No. 4--one, two, three, four.
Mr. EISENBERG. Again you are counting ridges?
Mr. LATONA. Counting ridges again, from point No. 5 one, two, three, four. There is a so-called ridge end, which occurs above, above and almost slightly to the left of point No. 5, point No. 5 enveloping No. 1. Point No. 5.
Mr. DULLES. Is 5 a ridge-end?
Mr. LATONA. Five is what we term a Joining, forking, or bifurcation. These two come together at point 5. Over here, together at point 5.
Mr. DULLES. Is that where the two ridges come together there and encase it?
Mr. LATONA. Yes, sir. From point No. 5 we pick up point No. 7, which is another one of those so-called bifurcations. One, two, three, four.
Mr. EISENBERG. Again a ridge count?
Mr. LATONA. Ridge counting from 5 to 6. That is in the latent print. We must find the same situation in the inked print. Counting from point No. 5 the ridges which intervene, one, two, three, and then we count four, the point itself. There is the bifurcation right here.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, in making these ridge counts, do you also pay attention to the so-called, let's say, geographical relation, the spacial relation of the two points?
Mr. LATONA. Very definitely. Now, it does not always follow that the so-called geographical position will coincide exactly the same. That would be caused because of variations in the pressure used when the print was made. For example, when you make a print on a fingerprint card: when the inked print was made, the print was made for the specific purpose of recording all of the ridge details. When the print was left on the paper bag, it was an incidental impression. The person was not trying to leave a print In fact, he probably did not even know he left one. So the pressure which is left, or the position of the finger when it made the print, will be a little different. Accordingly the geographical area of the points themselves will not always coincide. But they will be in the general position the same.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, without going into detail, there are some apparent dissimilarities on the two sides of that chart. Can you explain why there should be apparent dissimilarities?
Mr. LATONA. The dissimilarities as such are caused by the type of material on which the print was left, because of the pressure, because of the amount of material which is on the finger when it left the print. They would not always be exactly the same. Here again there appears a material difference in the sense there is a difference in coloration. This is because of the fact that the contrast in the latent print is not as sharp as it is in the inked impression, which is a definite black on white, whereas here we have more or less a brown on a lighter brown.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, when you find an apparent dissimilarity between an inked and a latent print, how do you know that it is caused by absorption of the surface upon which the latent print is placed, or by failure of the finger to exude material, rather than by the fact that you have a different fingerprint?
Mr. LATONA. That is simply by sheer experience.
Mr. EISENBERG. Would you say, therefore, that the identification of a fingerprint is a task which calls for an expert interpretation, as opposed to a simple point-by-point laying-out which a layman could do?
Mr. LATONA. Very definitely so; yes.


Mr. EISENBERG. How much training does it take before you can make an identification?
Mr. LATONA. Well, I cannot tell you exactly how much in terms of time, insofar as what constitutes an expert. I can simply tell you what we require of our people before they would be considered experts.
Mr. EISENBERG. Yes, could you do that?
Mr. LATONA. We require our people before they would be----
Mr. DULLES. This is the FBI?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; this is the FBI. It would be 10 years of practical work in connection with the classifying and searching and verifying of regular fingerprint cards which bear all 10 prints. Those prints would be searched through our main fingerprint files. That means that that person would have to serve at least 10 years doing that. Of course, he would have to progress from the mere searching operation to the operation of being what we call unit supervisor, which would check--which would be actually the checking of the work of subordinates who do that work. He would be responsible for seeing that the fingerprints are properly searched, properly classified.
Mr. EISENBERG. And how long will he work in the latent fingerprint section?
Mr. LATONA. He would have to take an adaptability test, which would take 3 or 4 days, to determine, first of all, do we feel he has the qualifications for the job. Then if he passed the adaptability test, he would receive a minimum of 1 year's personal training in the latent fingerprint section--which means that he would have to serve at least 11 years in fingerprint work constantly, day in and day out, 8 hours a day in fingerprint work, before we would consider him as a fingerprint expert for purposes of testifying in a court of law.
Mr. EISENBERG. So that when you show us this chart, this is actually, or I should say, is this actually a demonstration, rather than a chart from which we could make an identification?
Mr. LATONA. That's right. The purpose is simply a hope on my part that by my explanation you may have some idea as to how a comparison is made, rather than for me to prove it to you through these chars, because unquestionably there are certain points that you will not see which to me are apparent.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona----
Mr. DULLES. May I ask a question? Is this ridge formation, sort of two ridges coming together, is that one of the most distinctive things you look for? I note on these charts, Exhibit 634, the various examples you have given us have been of one type so far.
Mr. LATONA. Two.
Mr. DULLES. I did not get the two. I get the two ridges coming together with sort of the ending of a valley. You were saying there were two distinctive things. I have only. caught so far one distinctive thing--that is the two ridges coming together in a kind of valley with no exit.
Mr. LATONA. Two that come together, like a fork. And the other one was the one that just ends by itself--does not join.
Mr. EISENBERG. Which is an interrupted ridge?
Mr. DULLES. I do not get the distinction.
Mr. EISENBERG. Is that an interrupted ridge you just described?
Mr. LATONA. What we call an ending ridge.
Mr. EISENBERG. Off the record.
(Discussion off the record.)
Mr. EISENBERG. Back on the record. Mr. Latona, could you prepare a diagram which would show some of the characteristics, in broad outline, which we have been discussing, and have those labeled, and could you submit that diagram to us at a future date?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; I could.
Mr. EISENBERG. We will append it to your testimony, so that your testimony may be more easily followed in the record---with the permission of the Chairman.
Representative FORD. It will be prepared and submitted and included in the record.
(The item referred to was later supplied and was marked Commission Exhibit No. 634A.)


Mr. LATONA. Well, if you could give me your indulgence, I could do it right here as fast as I did it on the board.
Representative FORD. Off the record.
(Discussion off the record.)
Representative FORD. Back on the record.
Mr. DULLES. These, I understand, are the particular distinguishing points, the points that you would look for to determine whether the latent print----
Mr. LATONA. Not so much the looking for the points, as to finding points having a relationship to each other. It is the relation that is the important thing, not the point itself. In other words, all of us would have to a certain extent these points.
Mr. DULLES. They have to be in the same relation to each other.
Mr. LATONA. That is correct. For example, on the illustration I have here----
Mr. EISENBERG. This is an illustration on the blackboard.
Mr. LATONA. The mere fact that this is an ending ridge and bifurcation and another ending ridge and a dot in themselves mean nothing. This is a type of pattern which is referred to as a loop, which is very common. These comprise approximately 65 percent of pattern types. It has four ridge counts, for example. You can find hundreds of thousands and millions of four-count loops. But you would not find but one loop having an arrangement of these characteristics in the relation that they have. For example, the enclosure is related to this ending ridge. This ending ridge is related by one ridge removed from the dot. This bifurcation is next to the so-called core which is formed by a red, the ending ridge.
The points themselves are common. The most common type of points are the ending ridge and the bifurcation. Those are the two points we have covered so far.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, I see that you have marked nine characteristics on your chart. Are these all the characteristics which you were able to find----
Mr. LATONA. On this particular chart; yes. They were the only ones that bore actually, there is still one more characteristic--there could have been 10.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, is there any minimum number of points that has to be found in order to make an identification, in your opinion?
Mr. LATONA. No; in my opinion, there are no number of points which are a requirement. Now, there is a general belief among lots of fingerprint people that a certain number of points are required. It is my opinion that this is an erroneous assumption that they have taken, because of the fact that here in the United States a person that qualifies in court as an expert has the right merely to voice an opinion as to whether two prints were made by the same finger or not made. There are no requirements, there is no standard by which a person can say that a certain number of points are required--primarily because of the fact that there is such a wide variance in the experience of men who qualify as fingerprint experts.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, you said that not all experts are in agreement on this subject. Is there any substantial body of expert opinion that holds to a minimum number of points, let's say, 12?
Mr. LATONA. In the United States, to my knowledge, I know of no group or body that subscribe to a particular number. Now, quite frequently some of these departments will maintain a standard for themselves, by virtue of the fact that they will say, "Before we will make an identification, we must find a minimum of 12 points of similarity."
I am quite certain that the reason for that is simply to avoid the possibility of making an erroneous identification. Now, why they have picked 12--I believe that that 12-point business originated because of a certain article which was written by a French fingerprint examiner by the name of Edmond Locard back in 1917, I think--there was a publication to the effect that in his opinion where there were 12 points of similarity, there was no chance of making an erroneous identification. If there were less than 12, he voiced the conclusion that the chances would increase as to finding duplicate prints.
Now, today we in the FBI do not subscribe to that theory at all. We simply say this: We have confidence in our experts to the extent that regardless of the number of points, if the expert who has been assigned to the case for purposes


of making the examination gives an opinion, we will not question the number of points. We have testified--I personally have testified in court to as few as seven points of similarity.
Mr. DULLES. But you would not on two, would you?
Mr. LATONA. No, sir; because I know that two points, even though they would not be duplicate points, could be arranged in such a fashion that it might possibly give me the impression that here are two points which appear to be the same even though they are are not.
Mr. DULLES. But it is somewhere between two and seven--somewhere in that range?
Mr. LATONA. That is right. Where that is, I do not know. And I would not say whether I would testify to six, would I testify to five, would I refuse to testify to four.
Mr. DULLES. You say you would--or would you?
Mr. LATONA. I don't know. That's a question I could not answer. I would have to see each case individually before I could render a conclusion.
Now, going outside of the United States, we have been approached--I mean the FBI--have been approached by other foreign experts in an attempt to set a worldwide standard of 16 characteristics, a minimum of 16, as opposed to 12, which is generally referred to by people in this country here. Now of course we would not subscribe to that at all. And I think----
Mr. DULLES. That would be 16 on the fingerprint of the same finger?
Mr. LATONA. That's right.
Mr. DULLES. Obviously, if you have two fingers that would alter the number--if you had three on one and two on the other, would you consider that five?
Mr. LATONA. We would.
Now, whether the foreign experts would not, I don't know. In other words, if we were to go along with this European theory of 16 points, we would not testify to this being an identification. That is really what it would amount to. Yet to me, in my mind, there is no question that these prints here----
Mr. EISENBERG. Which is what exhibit?
Mr. LATONA. The enlargements in Exhibit 634 are simply reproductions of the left index fingerprint of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Representative FORD. There is no doubt in your mind about that?
Mr. LATONA. Absolutely none at all. The fact that there are only the nine points charted--and I feel this way, it is purely a matter of experience. They simply do not have the experience that we have in the FBI. The FBI has the world's largest practical fingerprint file. We receive on an average of 23,000 to 25,000 cards a day which are processed within a 3-day period.
Mr. DULLES. In a 3-day period?
Mr. LATONA. In a 3-day period.
Mr. DULLES. And by processed do you mean they are filed according to certain characteristics?
Mr. LATONA. They are. At first they are recorded as having been received from a particular agency, as to the number that we have received, as to the type of the card. Then they are checked to see if the impressions which are on the fingerprint card are complete and legible, that they are placed in their proper sequence, that is they are properly classified.
Then they are checked through our files to see if the person has or has not a prior criminal record. Then a reply is prepared and forwarded to the contributor. That is done in a 3-day period.
Mr. DULLES. How old is the art, roughly?
Mr. LATONA. Insofar as this country is concerned, I would say back to 1903, when the first fingerprint file for purposes of classification and filing was set up in this country in New York.
Mr. DULLES. Did it start in France?
Mr. LATONA. No. Really, I daresay the English were probably as early as any, or even down to South America--you have in Argentina the setting up of fingerprint files as early as 1891. For a long time we never recognized the fact that Argentina had a fingerprint file. I think it is primarily because all of the works on fingerprinting were written in Spanish, and it was just a question of finding somebody to take the time and effort to translate it into English.


The French are credited with the so-called Bertillon system, which is a measurement of the bone structure of the body. Alphone Bertillon was a French---
Mr. DULLES. Didn't Bertillon go into fingerprints later?
Mr. LATONA. Very reluctantly. He was very reluctant to accept it. He was a sort of diehard. He felt that his method, the measurement of certain bones of the body, would not change after a person reached the adult stage. But we know that that is not true. There is a change because of age, disease, dissipation. A person that was once 6'2" may, because of the fact he is getting older, hump down a little more and instead of being 6'2" he might be 5'11". Certain bone structures over the years make certain changes--plus the fact that his system was not a good system in that certain allowances had to be made because of the way that people were measured.
Sometimes one operator might measure the bones of the arm, for example, too tight, and another too loose. And they used the metric system of measurement, which in terms of their measuring might sometimes mean that the same person would not measure the same bone the same way twice.
We have the celebrated case here which we refer to as the Will West case, here in the United States, in which a man was sentenced to the penitentiary in Leavenworth. He was a colored man by the name of Will West. The operator there, going through the mechanics of taking the various measurements and his photograph, said, "I see you are back here again." The man said, "No, this is the first time I have been to Leavenworth." The operator was certain he had measured and photographed this man before. He went to check his records and he came up with a prior record which disclosed a Will West who had practically the same Bertillon measurements as the man currently being examined.
He said, "Isn't this you?" And he showed him a picture. He looked at the picture and recognized the picture as being one of himself. He said, "Yes, that is me, but I have never been here before."
They checked the records and found still there in the penitentiary was another Will West who looked almost exactly like a twin. But they were not even related. Their features were the same, their measurements were the same, but then their fingerprints were completely different.
If they made that error that one time, how many other times could the same error have been made? And accordingly, we here in the United States, around 1903--the Bertillon method was slowly put out of use. It became obsolete. Bertillon, before he died, conceded that fingerprints was a good means of identification, and he very reluctantly conceded that the two systems, his method and fingerprints together, would be an absolute means of identification.
We completely did away with the Bertillon system. In fact, the FBI never used it. We started our fingerprint work years after all that had been resolved, back in 1924.
On July 1, 1924, that is actually when the FBI went into the fingerprint business.
Mr. DULLES. Thank you very much. I found that very interesting.
Representative FORD. Go ahead, Mr. Eisenberg.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, did you also prepare a chart showing a comparison of the latent and known left-index fingerprint of Lee Harvey Oswald found on the paper bag, Exhibit 626?
Mr. LATONA. The left index finger. That is the one we just discussed.
Mr. EISENBERG. I'm sorry--the right palmprint.
Mr. LATONA. Right.
Mr. EISENBERG. And before we go any further, I should state for the record that the exhibit we have been referring to as 626 was earlier introduced as 142, and it is 142.
Mr. DULLES. Off the record.
(Discussion off the record.)
Mr. DULLES. Back on the record.
Mr. EISENBERG. Also, before we get to the palmprint----
Mr. DULLES. Just a moment. It seems to me it would be well to have for the files of the Commission copies of the earlier fingerprints of Lee Harvey Oswald that were taken, and the time that they were taken.


Mr. EISENBERG. I agree, sir. Mr. Latona----
Mr. LATONA. Do I understand you are asking----
Mr. EISENBERG. I will develop this on the record.
Mr. Latona, you had earlier submitted to us, and we had marked as an exhibit, copies of fingerprint cards and two palmprint cards which were made up by the Dallas police and forwarded to you, received by you from your Dallas office; is that correct?
Mr. LATONA. Yes, sir.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, in. addition, did the Federal Bureau of Investigation have in its files prints of Lee Harvey Oswald which it had received at some earlier date, prior to November 22?
Mr. LATONA. Yes, sir; I believe there is a Marine Corps print.
Mr. EISENBERG. Would these prints have been taken by the FBI?
Mr. LATONA. No; they would not.
Mr. EISENBERG. They were taken by----
Mr. LATONA. The regular service.
Mr. EISENBERG. And forwarded to the FBI?
Mr. LATONA. That's right.
Mr. EISENBERG. Did you compare the 10-finger card which you received from the Dallas office of the FBI and compare it with the Marine fingerprint card?
Mr. LATONA. Yes, sir.
Mr. EISENBERG. Were they identical?
Mr. LATONA. They were the same.
Mr. EISENBERG. Were the palmprints taken by the Marines?
Mr. LATONA. No; not to my knowledge.
Mr. EISENBERG. Could you submit to us a copy of the 10 -print card which you received from the Marine Corps?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; I could.
Mr. EISENBERG. With the Chairman's permission, that will be appended as an exhibit to Mr. Latona's testimony.
Representative FORD. Do you wish to identify it by a number at this time?
Mr. EISENBERG. Yes. If we could give it a number in advance of receiving it, I would like to give it Commission Exhibit No. 635.
(The item referred to was later supplied and was marked Commission Exhibit No, 635.)
Representative FORD. It will be admitted.
Mr. DULLES. Do you know whether any fingerprints were taken after Lee Harvey Oswald returned from the Soviet Union?
Mr. LATONA. Those after he was arrested in connection with this particular offense.
Mr. DULLES. Apart from the fingerprints obtained in connection with the assassination.
Mr. LATONA. I do not.
Mr. DULLES. Do you have a right to go to anybody and demand their fingerprints?
Mr. DULLES. Under law?
Mr. LATONA. No, sir; only persons taken into custody for Federal violations as such. Now, the FBI has actually no authority at all, except in cases of making an arrest.
Mr. DULLES. There is nothing done in connection with the census or anything of that kind?
Mr. LATONA. No, sir. Some persons are ordered, by virtue of being aliens, to be fingerprinted those that are domiciled here in the United States must register under the Alien Registration Act.
Mr. DULLES. And fingerprints then are taken of aliens in connection with their registration?
Mr. LATONA. That's right.
Mr. DULLES. Otherwise there is no general procedure for the taking of anybody that you may happen to want to take?
Mr. LATONA. The Services, of course, require it. Applicants for certain positions are required by law. For example, all civil service, Federal civil service


applicants must be fingerprinted. Locally, there are certain local eases. For example a man may in some localities, if he even applies for a chauffeur's license, has to be fingerprinted. If he desires a gun permit, he has to be fingerprinted. In some places, if he applies for certain jobs he must be fingerprinted.
Mr. DULLES. As I recall, I gave a fingerprint when I got my automobile license. Is that general throughout the United States?
Mr. LATONA. What State was that?
Mr. DULLES. Here in the District. Didn't I give that?
Mr. LATONA. No, sir. To my knowledge, there are none that require it---- fingerprinting--for an automobile license. In California I believe it is voluntary---to place the finger, if you desire to, on your card.
Mr. DULLES. Thank you very much.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, Exhibit 630, which is one of the known 10-print cards submitted by the Dallas office, is marked "Refused to sign" in the box with the printed caption "Signature of person fingerprinted." Do you recall whether Lee Harvey Oswald signed the Marine Corps card?
Mr. LATONA. Offhand, I do not.
Mr. EISENBERG. I think it would be interesting, for the record, to see if that is signed, and, of course, as we read the record and get the card, we will be able to note that information.
We were discussing whether you had made a chart of the known and latent right palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald found on Exhibit 142, as I will refer to it from now on.
Mr. LATONA. I believe I have already furnished you mailer photographs.
Mr. EISENBERG. Yes; you have. Those have been marked into evidence.
Mr. LATONA. This is the inked--the right inked palmprint, a photograph of the right inked palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Mr. EISENBERG. You say "this." Can you identify that exhibit? It is 631. I am handing you Exhibit 632.
Mr. LATONA. Exhibit 632 is approximately a time and a half enlargement of the latent palmprint which was developed on the brown wrapper.
Mr. EISENBERG. That is Exhibit 142.
Mr. LATONA. Exhibit 142--which is indicated by the red arrow A.
Mr. EISENBERG. Did you prepare this chart, Mr. Latona?
Mr. LATONA. Not personally, no. This was made under my personal direction and supervision.
Mr. EISENBERG. And is it an accurate reproduction of the known and latent prints which were earlier introduced into evidence?
Mr. LATONA. It is. It is a true and faithful reproduction of these areas, enlarged to approximately eight times the originals.
Mr. EISENBERG. May I have this introduced into evidence as 636, Mr. Chairman?
Representative FORD. It will be introduced.
(The item referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 636 and received in evidence.)
Mr. DULLES. May I ask whether this was discovered immediately after the assassination---at what time did you discover this particular palmprint?
Mr. LATONA. It was on the 23d of November, the day after.
Mr. EISENBERG. Using this chart, 636, Mr. Latona, could you demonstrate to us some of the points which led you to the conclusion that the latent palmprint on 142 was the palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald?
Mr. LATONA. The procedure in making this comparison was exactly the same as the procedure followed in connection with making the prior examination of the fingerprint. Now, the area which shows in approximately an eight-time enlargement, and is marked "Latent Palmprint Developed on Brown Homemade Paper Container," which is Exhibit 636, is roughly outlined on Commission Exhibit 631 in red, which is a photograph of the inked right palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald.
This area below the little finger, or what we referred to as the ulnar portion of the palm--now, in making the examination or comparison, here again first of all I would like to point out that there is a black line that goes right through--in an upward fashion-- through the enlargement of the latent fingerprint. That line is caused by virtue of the fact that the palmprint which is developed is


partially on a piece of tape as well as the wrapper itself. In other words, a part of the print is on a piece of tape and the other part is on the paper itself.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, could you show how the palm lay on the paper to produce that impression?
Mr. LATONA. The palm lay in this fashion here.
Mr. EISENBERG. You are putting your right hand on the paper so that the fingers are pointing in the same direction as the arrow A?
Mr. LATONA. That's right.
Mr. EISENBERG. And it is at approximately right angles to the paper bag?
Mr. LATONA. That's right.
Here again, in making the comparison, a check is made for the location of certain points.
Now, we notice here that the points appear to be much closer than they were in the fingerprint, and that is probably because of the pressure which was exercised, possibly in holding the object which was in this paper container.
Now, you notice this point No. 1 here, which we term the ending ridge. Point No. 2 is also an ending ridge. And you notice in between these points there is a ridge. Point No. 2 is to the left of point No. 1.
Then we find there is a point No. 3 which is a point which is similar in character to point-No. 2 and is almost directly below, but there are two intervening ridges. Then there is a point No. 4 which is below point No. 3, and going in a direction opposite from point No. 3.
If we bear those four points in mind--and if the latent palmprint was made by the same palm that made the inked palmprint-- then we should find these four points in that position over there.
Now, in order to first of all find the particular area where-we would look to see if those points exist, we would bear in mind the general formation of the print itself. We notice the so-called looping formation in the inked print. We see that there is a looping formation here. Definitely it is not as pronounced in the latent print as it is in the inked print. But to the experienced eye, it is right here.
Accordingly, bearing in mind where these points would occur, we would generalize in the area to the extreme right of the enlargement, and find that there is a point which is somewhat similar to the point which appears in the inked impression, which momentarily we would say appears to be the same point as No. 1.
Now, hearing in mind how No. 2 is related to point No. 1, does such a point appear in the latent print? And making the check, exactly in the same fashion and relationship that occurred in the inked print, we find that there is such a point.
Does a third point appear in the same relationship to point No. 2 as it appears in the inked print?
Counting down one, two, and then the three point being the point itself. And in the same general flowing direction we count here, one, two, three--there it is.
Bearing in mind again that we found point No. 4 is what we refer to as a bifurcation going in the opposite direction from No. 3, which was directly below and to the left, do we find such a point here? Sure enough, there it is.
Now, an additional test would be this: At this point here we notice there is an abrupt ending of a ridge at this point here. It was not even charted. The fact is, it also occurs here. You see this point here, through which there is no line drawn, here it is right here---
Mr. EISENBERG. You are pointing above 4?
Mr. LATONA. Directly above 4 to a ridge going--what we term flowing to the right. Now, at this point here, to a fingerprint examiner of any experience at all, he would start saying these prints were probably made by the same fellow. To satisfy himself, he would continue to point No. 5--one, two, three, four--there is point No. 5. Then there is No. 6, and there is No. 6 here, having exactly the same relationship to each other.
On the basis of those six points alone, I would venture the opinion that these palmprints were made by the same person. But for purposes of carrying it out further, here is point No. 7. Point No. 7 is obliterated to a certain degree


to the inexperienced eye by virtue of the fact that it almost coincides with that line there. You probably do not see that. And here is point No. 8, which is related to point No. 7 by the separation of those ridges in the same way. One, two, three, four----one, two, three, four. In its relationship to No. 9 here---just above and to the left, flowing in the same general direction. Here it is here. Then your point No. 10, which is tied into point No. 11 in this fashion here, and 12 and 13. All of them have the same relationship insofar as the intervention of ridges is concerned, the same general area, plus the fact that they all flow in the same general direction.
Picking up No. 14, which is going upward, to point No. 15, which stands out rather easily--15 here. To throw in just one point extra--see this little point here, that ends here?
Mr. EISENBERG. That is to the upper right of 15?
Mr. LATONA. To the right and upward of 15.
Mr. DULLES. So you really have 16 points there?
Mr. LATONA. Actually, there are more than that in here, which I have not even bothered to chart. The opinion here, without any question at all this latent print, which was developed on the brown bag marked "A"--142 was made by the right palm of Lee Harvey Oswald. And in my opinion, this identification is absolute. There is no question at all that only the right palm of Lee Harvey Oswald made this print, or could have made it.
Mr. EISENBERG. Are there any further questions on the prints appearing on this bag?
Representative FORD. Mr. Murray?
Mr. MURRAY. May I suggest this, Mr. Chairman? Since the print on the bag may become obliterated, and since members of the Commission have already seen it, it might be advisable to put on the record that they have seen it, because in time to come it may not be visible to anybody.
Representative FORD. Well I for one would be willing to state that I have personally seen that fingerprint through a glass on the bag--both the finger and the palm.
Mr. DULLES. I would be. glad to concur that I also have seen the fingerprint and the palmprint to which Congressman Ford refers.
Mr. EISENBERG. In that general connection, Mr. Latona, do you commonly make your fingerprint identifications on the basis of the object on which the latent print appears, or on the basis of a photograph of that object?
Mr. LATONA. Normally it is made on the basis of photographs. We work more or less like an assembly-line basis, and we do not have the time or the opportunity to work from the originals, as was done in this case this being quite an exceptional case. So the usual identification would be made this was made on the basis of the bag itself, rather than to wait and get finished photographs from our photographic laboratory. If I recall correctly, this was on a Saturday---the 23d?
Mr. EISENBERG. Yes; it was.
Mr. LATONA. We did not have our full staff there. We were called in to handle this case specially. There were no photographers available at that time for that particular purpose. Frankly, under the circumstances it would not have made any difference whether they were available or not. This had a priority over everything we were working on and naturally we had to proceed as fast as we could, in a sense, to render conclusions and opinions at that time. Accordingly, the original comparisons were made directly from the wrapper, rather than a photograph, which was prepared subsequently to this.
Representative FORD. The suggestion has been made, Mr. Murray, that perhaps you would like to look at that palmprint and the fingerprint on the wrapping, and you might make a statement the same as Mr. Dulles and I have made.
Mr. EISENBERG. Could you point out to Mr. Murray, Mr. Latona, the two prints?
Mr. LATONA. Yes, sir. "A" is the fingerprint.
Mr. DULLES. And the witness certifies that these are true photographs of the fingerprint and the palmprint that you have exhibited?
Mr. LATONA. Yes, sir.


Mr. MURRAY. May I say for the. record, Mr. Chairman, that I definitely and clearly saw what appeared to me to be a palmprint in the port of Exhibit 142 which was designated with a "B," and less clearly, but nevertheless I did see, the fingerprint on the other portion of the bag.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona----
Mr. LATONA. "B" is the finger, and "A" is the palm.
Mr. MURRAY. Yes; that's correct. And the palm "A"--there I definitely saw what appeared. to be a palmprint, and more faintly I saw a fingerprint in the portion marked "B."
Mr. DULLES. And these are exhibits----
Mr. EISENBERG. This is Exhibit 142.
(At this point Representative Boggs entered the hearing room.)
Mr. DULLES. Both the palmprint and the fingerprint are on Exhibit 142.
Mr. EISENBERG. Yes--marked "A" and "B" respectively. Mr. Latona, one further question on this subject. When you testify in court, do you frequently testify on the basis of the photographs rather than the original object?
Mr. LATONA. If the originals are available, I would prefer that they be. brought into court. If they are not, then photographs are used--plus the original negative of the latent prints which were photographed.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, I hand you Commission Exhibit 139 which, for the record, consists of the rifle found on the sixth floor of the TSBD building, and which ,was identified yesterday as the rifle and the day before yesterday--as the rifle which fired the fatal bullets, and I ask you whether you are familiar with this weapon?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; I am.
Mr. EISENBERG. And did you examine this weapon to test--did you examine this weapon to determine whether there were any identifiable latent fingerprints on it?
Mr. LATONA. I examined the weapon to determine whether there were any identifiable latent prints on the weapon.
Mr. EISENBERG. When did you receive the weapon?
Mr. LATONA. On the morning of November 23, 1963.
Mr. EISENBERG. And when did you proceed to make your examination?
Mr. LATONA. I proceeded to make my examination that same day that I received it.
Mr. EISENBERG. Can you tell us what techniques you used?
Mr. LATONA. Well, the technique that I used first was simply to examine it visually under a magnifying glass, a hand magnifying glass, primarily for the purpose of seeing, first of all, whether there were any visible prints. I might point out that my attention had been directed to the area which we refer to as the trigger guard on the left side of the weapon, Commission Exhibit 139.
Mr. EISENBERG. The trigger-guard area?
Mr. LATONA. The trigger-guard area.
Mr. EISENBERG. Which actually, in the case of this particular weapon, is the area in which the magazine is inserted at the 'top; is that correct? You are looking at the weapon now, and the magazine comes out the bottom of what is called the trigger-guard area, which would be a trigger guard on another weapon.
Mr. LATONA. That's correct. There had been placed over that area a piece of cellophane material. My attention had been directed to it, to the effect that a prior examination had been made of that area, and that there were apparently certain latent prints available visible under that area. I first examine most prints to see----
Mr. DULLES. Who placed the cellophane material there, in your opinion?
Mr. LATONA. Well, I was told--my information was simply that the Dallas Police Department had done so. I have no personal knowledge as to who did it, other than information that the Dallas Police had examined the weapon and they had found these visible marks on there, that they had developed the prints. Now, by what means they did it, I do not know, but I would assume they used a gray powder.
Mr. DULLES. What was the purpose of putting the cellophane there?


Mr. LATONA. To protect the prints while the rifle was intransit to the FBI.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, when you received it with the cellophane cover, what portion did it cover?
Mr. LATONA. Closest to the trigger area.
Mr. EISENBERG. On the trigger guard, closest to the trigger area?
Mr. LATONA. That's right.
Mr. EISENBERG. Was that on the right or left side of the weapon?
Mr. LATONA. Left side.
Mr. EISENBERG. And was there a print visible to you underneath the cellophane?
Mr. LATONA. I could see faintly ridge formations there. However, examination disclosed to me that the formations, the ridge formations and characteristics, were insufficient for purposes of either effecting identification or a determination that the print was not identical with the prints of people. Accordingly, my opinion simply was that the latent prints which were there were of no value. Now, I did not stop there.
Mr. EISENBERG. Before we leave those prints, Mr. Latona, had those been developed by the powder method?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; they had.
Mr. EISENBERG. Was that a gray powder?
Mr. LATONA. I assumed that they used gray powder in order to give them what little contrast could be seen. And it took some highlighting and sidelighting with the use of a spotlight to actually make those things discernible at all.
Representative FORD. As far as you are concerned.
Mr. LATONA. That's right.
Mr. DULLES. Is is likely or possible that those fingerprints could have been damaged or eroded in the passage from Texas to your hands?
Mr. LATONA. No, sir ; I don't think so. In fact, I think we got the prints just like they were. There had, in addition to this rifle and that paper bag, which I received on the 23d--there had also been submitted to me some photographs which had been taken by the Dallas Police Department, at least alleged to have been taken by them, of these prints on this trigger guard which they developed. I examined the photographs very closely and I still could not determine any latent value in the photograph. So then I took the rifle personally over to our photo laboratory. In the meantime, I had made arrangements to bring a photographer in especially for the purpose of photographing these latent prints for me, an experienced photographer--I called him in. I received this material in the Justice Building office of operations is in the Identification Division Building, which is at 2d and D Streets SW. So I made arrangements to immediately have a photographer come in and see if he could improve on the photographs that were taken by the Dallas Police Department. Well, we spent, between the two of us, setting up the camera, looking at prints, highlighting, sidelighting, every type of lighting that we could conceivably think of, checking back and forth in the darkroom--we could not improve the condition of these latent prints. So, accordingly, the final conclusion was simply that the latent print on this gun was of no value, the fragments that were there. After that had been determined, I then proceeded to completely process the entire rifle, to see if there were any other prints of any significance or value any prints of value--I would not know what the significance would be, but to see if there were any other prints. I completely covered the rifle. I also had a firearms man----
Representative BOGGS. What do you cover it with?
Mr. LATONA. Gray fingerprint powder.
Representative BOGGS. What is that powder?
Mr. LATONA. It is usually a combination of chalk and mercury, or possibly white lead and a little bit of resin material to give it some weight.
Mr. EISENBERG. And you testified earlier that that adheres----
Mr. LATONA. To the moisture that was left by the finger, the fingers or the hands, when it came in contact with the surface.


Representative BOGGS. How long will that condition remain?
Mr. LATONA. Going from one extreme to the other, it may remain for years; under other circumstances, it may not even last for 15 or 20 minutes.
Representative BOGGS. Why the difference?
Mr. LATONA. Because of the amount of material which was left and the condition of the material which was left. Basically, the material may be made up of protein material and salt and water--primarily water. If it is totally water, with very little salt or oily material, when the evaporation is effected, then it is complete--there Will be nothing left.
Representative BOGGS. You mean that it is gone?
Mr. LATONA. Right. On the other hand, if there is an oily matter there, we know that latent prints will last literally for years on certain objects.
Representative BOGGS. Well, just for purposes of information, if I make fingerprints there on the table, how long would they normally last?
Mr. LATONA. I don't know.
Representative BOGGS. Well, would there be any way to know?
Mr. LATONA. No, sir.
Mr. DULLES. It depends on temperature, on the amount of moisture involved? What does it depend on?
Mr. LATONA. First of all, I saw him touch it, but I am not even sure he left a print there.
Representative BOGGS. Well, I can see it.
Mr. LATONA. As to the quality of the print, there again it is simply a matter of what material you have in your hands that made that print, as to how long it will last, how long it will take for it to evaporate. Actually, when it dries out, it may, in itself, leave a print with such clarity that it would not even though it would not accept the powder, still by highlighting it, the way you did to see that the print was there, we could photograph it so it would come out just as clear as though it were black on white.
Representative BOGGS. Does the material that one touches have any effect?
Mr. LATONA. Very definitely. It depends on how hard or smooth the material is.
Representative BOGGS. Now, does a weapon lend itself to retaining fingerprints?
Mr. LATONA. This particular weapon here, first of all, in my opinion, the metal is very poorly finished. It is absorbent. Believe it or not, there is a certain amount of absorption into this metal itself. It is not finished in the sense that it is highly polished.
Representative BOGGS. So this would be conducive to getting a good print, or would it?
Mr. LATONA. It would not.
Representative BOGGS. I see---because it would absorb the moisture.
Mr. LATONA. That's right. Now, there are other guns--for example, Smith and Wesson, which have exceptionally nice finishes, the blue metal finishes are better surfaces for latent prints. Where you have a nickel-plated or silver-plated revolvers, where it is smooth--they are much more conducive to latent prints than some of these other things, say like the army type, the weapons used in wartime that are dull, to avoid reflection--things of that type--they are not as good.
Mr. DULLES. I wonder if you would like to look at the fingerprints we have gone over. They are quite apparent there with the glass.
Representative BOGGS. I would like to look at them. That is all I want to ask right at the moment.
Mr. DULLES. I would like to ask a general question.
Mr. LATONA. (addressing Representative Boggs) This is one of the fingerprints developed on the brown wrapper. It is this print here.
Mr. DULLES. You can see these prints quite clearly, and the palmprint.
Representative BOGGS. This is a photograph of that?
Mr. LATONA. This is approximately a time and a half enlargement. This is the left index finger. Here is the palmprint that was developed.
Representative FORD. Mr. Boggs each of us here, Mr. Dulles, Mr. Murray, and myself, have said on the record that we have seen the prints on the wrapping.


We did this because, as Mr. Latona has indicated, such prints may disappear over a period of time. We thought it might be well for the record to indicate that we saw them. If you wish to do the same----
Representative BOGGS. I would like to do the same, having just seen it.
Mr. DULLES. The witness has certified to the fact that these are true photographs of the prints that we have seen.
Representative BOGGS. And the witness has also certified that those are Oswald's prints?
Mr. LATONA. No; I cannot certify to that.
Mr. EISENBERG. Do you want to explain that?
Mr. LATONA. As I am not the one that fingerprinted Oswald, I cannot tell from my own personal knowledge that those are actually the fingerprints of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Mr. EISENBERG. But you can certify that those prints are identical with the prints on the card which bears the name of Lee Harvey Oswald which was furnished to you?
Mr. LATONA. That is right.
Mr. EISENBERG. We will get other evidence in the record at a subsequent time to show those were the prints of Oswald. Mr. Latona, you were saying that you had worked over that rifle by applying a gray powder to it. Did you develop any fingerprints?
Mr. LATONA. I was not successful in developing any prints at all on the weapon. I also had one of the firearms examiners dismantle the weapon and I processed the complete weapon, all parts, everything else. And no latent prints of value were developed.
Mr. EISENBERG. Does that include the clip?
Mr. LATONA. That included the clip, that included the bolt, it included the underside of the barrel which is covered by the stock.
Mr. EISENBERG. Were cartridge cases furnished to you at that time?
Mr. LATONA. They were, which I processed, and from which I got no prints.
Mr. EISENBERG. Therefore, the net result of your work on Exhibit 139 was that you could not produce an identifiable print?
Mr. LATONA. That's correct.
Mr. DULLES. May I ask one question? Does the Secret Service do fingerprinting work, or do they turn it over to you--turn to you for all of that?
Mr. LATONA. I think they do some of their own, and on occasion we will do some for them, too. Primarily I think they do their own. I am not too familiar with the Secret Service as to how elaborate their laboratory is.
Mr. EISENBERG. So as of November 23, you had not found an identifiable print on Exhibit 139?
Mr. LATONA. That is right.
Mr. EISENBERG. I now hand you a small white card marked with certain initials and with a date, "11-22-63." There is a cellophane wrapping, cellophane tape across this card with what appears to be a fingerprint underneath it, and the handwriting underneath that tape is "off underside of gun barrel near end of foregrip C 2766," which I might remark parenthetically is the serial number of Exhibit 139. I ask you whether you are familiar with this item which I hand you, this card?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; I am familiar with this particular exhibit.
Mr. EISENBERG. Can you describe to us what that exhibit consists of, that item rather?
Mr. LATONA. This exhibit Or this item is a lift of a latent palmprint which was evidently developed with black powder.
Mr. EISENBERG. And when did you receive this item?
Mr. LATONA. I received this item November 29, 1963.
Mr. EISENBERG. Before we go any further may I have this admitted into evidence?
Representative FORD. It will be. What is the number?
Mr. EISENBERG. That will be No. 637.
(The document referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 637, and received in evidence.)
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, could you describe to us what a lift is?


Mr. LATONA. A lift is merely a piece of adhesive material which is used for purposes of removing a print that has been previously developed on an object, onto the adhesive material. Then the adhesive material is placed on a hacking, in this case which happens to be the card. The adhesive material utilized here is similar to scotch tape. There are different types of lifting material. Some of them are known as opaque lifters, which are made of rubber, like a black rubber and white rubber, which has an adhesive material affixed to it, and this material is simply laid on a print which has been previously developed on an object and the full print is merely removed from the object.
Mr. EISENBERG. When you say "the print" is removed, actually the powder----
Mr. LATONA. The powder that adhered to the original latent print is picked off of the object.
Mr. EISENBERG. So that the impression actually is removed?
Mr. LATONA. That is right.
Representative FORD. Is that a recognized technique?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; it is.
Representative FORD. In the fingerprinting business?
Mr. LATONA. It is very common, one of the most common methods of recording latent prints.
Mr. EISENBERG. Who did you get this exhibit, this lift from?
Mr. LATONA. This lift was referred to us by the FBI Dallas office.
Mr. EISENBERG. And were you told anything about its origin?
Mr. LATONA. We were advised that this print had been developed by the Dallas Police Department, and, as the lift itself indicates, from the underside of the gun barrel near the end of the foregrip.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, may I say for the record that at a subsequent point we will have the testimony of the police officer of the Dallas police who developed this print, and made the lift; and I believe that the print was taken from underneath the portion of the barrel which is covered by the stock. Now, did you attempt to identify this print which shows on the lift Exhibit 637?