New advances in technology could help solve Lawless case - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New advances in technology could help solve Lawless case

Posted: Updated: 10/12/2011 6:35:21 AM
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BENTON, MO (KFVS) -

Could an old fingerprint on a metal surface point to the killer of Mischelle Lawless?  Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter hopes so.

Walter sent a piece of evidence to Dr. John Bond, a scientist from England, about a year ago. He met with Dr. Bond again just last week in the states to discuss the process of analyzing that piece of evidence.

"He was able to lift what looks like a pretty good print," said Sheriff Walter. "We're trying to get a good flat print off of it. Dr. Bond has developed a machine to do that."

It's been almost 20 years since Sheriff Walter, then a part-time deputy discovered the body of Mischelle Lawless in her car near the Benton exit off Interstate 55. It was November of 1992. She'd been shot and beaten.

Josh Kezer was convicted of the crime and spent 16 years in prison before Walter re-opened the case. A judge declared Kezer an innocent man in 2009.  

Sheriff Rick Walter says if they can get a good print, it's possible quickly advancing technology could finally point to the real killer.

"The machine will actually take picture all the way around in a circle if you need it to," said Walter.

Walter would only say the print is on a curved metal surface.

"At first the odds were less than one percent of finding a good print," said Sheriff Walter. "Now we believe technology is progressing much faster."

He says he has to explore every avenue to try and find the killer.

"Somewhere there's still a couple of guys running around out there that got away with murder in this county," said Sheriff Walter. "That's something I can't live with."

Sheriff Walter says he's not sure how long it will take to develop and process a good print.

Meanwhile, Kezer says it's time for the community to rally around Sheriff Walter and bring him the information he needs.

"The evidence is out there," said Kezer. "But the reality is law enforcement from the past is still trying to hinder justice and have an effect on this investigation. People around the case are still looking for a reason not to believe the evidence."

Sheriff Walter says it is a difficult case.

"Obviously the cover-ups," said Sheriff Walter. "Just call it like it is. You had somebody in prison that didn't need to be there. There are people in this county that don't want this case solved."

Walter says people are afraid because he and others believe the killer or killers are likely local.

"I've had threats myself, but that's part of it," said Sheriff Walter. "For Scott County and for this family we're going to find out who did this."  

Walter is also sending another piece of evidence to Holland where he's had testing done before on other items.

Sheriff Walter says he's requested the help of another agency to help investigate the case.

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