Crooks with Tattoos Might as Well Pass out Business Cards

Article excerpt

Byline: Burt Constable

There is, of course, the presumption of innocence, the fallibility of witnesses, and the chance that a jury can hear all the damning evidence and still "O.J." the defendant.

But that tattoo might be a deal-breaker for this accused.

The Daily Herald story noted the assailant used a knife to slash a couple of people before escaping into the crowd at Woodfield Shopping Center in Schaumburg. But witnesses to the botched attempt to steal a fur coat from Marshall Field's identified the attacker as having a tattoo of a champagne glass on her neck.

Distinctive tattoos narrow the list of usual suspects.

"There's no doubt it's definitely helpful," Cathy Milhoan of the FBI's office of public affairs says in general of tattoo clues. "While a lot of people have blue eyes or green eyes or whatever, not everybody has a champagne glass tattoo on her neck."

Police developed a list of potential suspects for a photo lineup but said witnesses fingered the career criminal with the champagne glass tattoo on her neck. The 52-year-old Chicago woman was arrested and faces numerous felony charges in connection with the alleged attempt to steal a tasteful fur coat to accessorize a classy champagne tattoo.

She is not the first suspect to be done in by a tattoo.

The infamous Richard Speck murdered eight student nurses in Chicago in 1966. The traumatized sole survivor, who escaped by hiding under a bed, was a bit hazy on some aspects of Speck's appearance, but she remembered he had a "Born to Raise Hell" tattoo on his arm.

Five days later, when Speck slashed his arm and ended up in Cook County Hospital, a doctor recognized the tattoo and called police. Speck, who was convicted and died in prison in 1991, might have stayed on the lam if not for his tattoo.

"Any distinguishing mark obviously distinguishes one person from another," says "Uncle" Bud Yates, president of the National Tattoo Association. …