In Memoriam

William C. Sampson 1936 - 2007

It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of William C. Sampson on November 28, 2007. During his lifetime, he had dedicated himself to asking tough questions and finding right answers. That tenacity and attention to detail was one reason why Sampson came to be recognized as the most knowledgeable person in the technique of recovering latent prints from human skin.

Sampson retired after 38 years at the Miami-Dade (Florida) Police Department where he served a variety of roles that ranged from foot patrol to traffic homicide to training advisor to crime-scene investigator. At one point, he also served as a liaison between the Miami-Dade Police Department Crime Laboratory and the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner Department. He served as chairman of the IAI’s Safety Committee, a job for which he was well-qualified. He had taught first aid, water safety, and self defense for many years in the Academy and in the Police Reserve Program which led to his serving as chairman of the Dade County Disaster Nursing council. during that time, he was instrumental in prompting needed upgrades to emergency response, including designing and instituting the first paramedics program with the firefighters and with the Red Cross.

During his career, Sampson discovered that it is possible to lift latent fingerprints from skin and cloth by manipulating ambient temperature and humidity. He spent years teaching his techniques to law-enforcement personnel across the country. He taught at more than 250 crime-scene units, at several universities, and at numerous conferences conducted by the International Association for Identification (IAI), the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). He received many awards over the years, including the prestigious John Dondero Award from the IAI.

Twelve years ago, after retiring from the Miami-Dade Police Department, Sampson and his wife and fellow forensic scientist, Karen Sampson, formed KLS Forensics Inc. as a way to provide hands-on training in sophisticated crime-scene related subjects for law-enforcement agencies. He was an informative writer and was published in a variety of professional journals and trade publications.

Sampson was also a member of the Advisory Board for Evidence Technology Magazine. He will be greatly missed.


January-February 2008 (Volume 6, Number 1)
Evidence Technology Magazine

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Lifting Latent Fingerprints from Difficult Surfaces

ALMOST ANYONE can find, process, and lift a latent print that happens to be in a logical and obvious place like a door handle, a beer can, or a butcher knife. But sometimes, a latent print is not just sitting there in a logical and obvious place. Sometimes, you have to use your imagination to find the print and your skills to lift it.