By Steven Barket,
Las Vegas, Nevada
I have a question for Tom Dillard: Of the almost nonexistent physical evidence that was found at the scene of the homicide of 7-year-old Alexander Harris at Whiskey Pete’s Casino back in 1987, whose fingerprint was on the glasses of the young victim?
The fingerprint was about the only real, hard physical evidence found. Detective Dillard, wouldn’t you have searched to the ends of the earth to find out whose print that was, either to exclude it as evidence or include it as evidence in the case of a murdered 7-year-old boy?
Alexander, 7, was found a month after he was abducted, lying dead under a trailer that was on the grounds of the casino at the time. The autopsy found almost no physical evidence and determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation. Police and prosecution forensic experts “surmised that his body was there shortly after the boy disappeared.”
Alexander was wearing the same clothes he had on at the time he went missing, the Friday after Thanksgiving in 1987. The Clark County medical examiner, which had jurisdiction in the case, found no evidence that Alexander was sexually assaulted. He found no evidence of any violent physical trauma.
When Alexander’s body was found, his glasses also were found, apparently placed near his body. There was a “latent” fingerprint found on one of the lenses. The print was checked against Alexander’s prints, and it wasn’t his. The print also was checked against possible suspects, and they were all eliminated.
What we do know about that fingerprint is that it wasn’t Howard Lee Haupt’s, who was charged with the crime but ultimately found not guilty on all counts.
If it wasn’t Haupt’s, or any of the other early suspects, if it wasn’t Alexander’s, whose was it? Was it his mother’s or grandparents? Was it the murderer’s? Was it run through a database of any sort, such as what was available 30 years or so ago? Has it ever been run through a modern database?
Of the three different categories of fingerprints that can be found at the scene of a crime, latent prints are just one. The print categories are, 1) patent, 2) impressed and 3) latent. What’s a latent print, exactly?
Well, patent prints are fingerprints that be seen easily, without any special assistance. You might find them in blood, ink, oil, or they might be easily seen on surfaces like glass. Impressed prints are actual impressions in soft material like clay, for example. You can even often make molds of the prints in this kind of material. Latent prints are ones that are not visible to the naked eye, but which do exist a the scene. They often have to be “lifted” in some way by special tape of some sort after being “dusted” with magnesium powder. There are other ways of getting the prints as well — super glue, for example or using other chemicals like iodine or silver nitrate.
And there was other physical evidence available to police at the crime scene. Not much but some nonetheless. For example, there were body hairs found that were not Alexander’s. Unfortunately, most of that has been left unexamined. Whose are they, Detective Dillard?
A 7-year-old boy is dead and the killer has not been found. It has been almost 30 years. How is it possible that such an egregious crime has been left untouched for so long? The crime is not even listed on Metro PD’s website of unsolved homicides from the 1980s. Why not? Does Dillard and Metro think they solved the crime and they were just unable to convict the real killer, who they believe to be Haupt?
Wouldn’t the un-explained murder of a young boy be enough of a motivating factor in and of itself to push detectives to discover who the real killer was? No, there’s no financial reward, Tom Dillard, just the satisfaction of knowing a heinous crime has been solved and the perpetrator tried and convicted. Shouldn’t that be motivation enough? Isn’t there anyone in Metro who can take this up again, since Dillard is now off the force and a private investigator? Surely there must be someone who is interested in putting this puzzle together and solving it once and for all.