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BGA, Palatine at odds over handling of Brown's probe
By Steve Warmbir | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/29/2007

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First published: November 20, 1997

Palatine police Chief Jerry Bratcher on Wednesday released what appeared to be full sets of fingerprints from all seven Brown's mass murder victims - to counterattack a study that says police had missed printing one victim. The Better Government Association is expected to release a report today that lists numerous, detailed criticisms of how the Palatine police department handled the crime scene.

The report will say that police missed fingerprinting one of the victims, BGA Executive Director J. Terrence Brunner said. It's key to fingerprint murder victims to exclude their prints from all the ones collected at the scene, law enforcement experts say.

Bratcher hotly disputes the BGA contention. But the association stands behind it, Brunner said.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Bratcher displayed photocopies of what appeared to be full sets of finger and palm prints from all seven victims.

"I can assure you that these are all copies of the originals that reside at the Illinois (State Police) Crime Lab," Bratcher said.

The police chief said his officers printed the victims at the Cook County Medical Examiner's office soon after the January 1993 slayings.

Brunner said the BGA's contention was based on interviews with a police source and a lab director.

Bratcher raised this question: Since the fingerprint information is wrong, what else will be wrong in the BGA report?

"A reasonable, thinking person should pause to reflect on the diatribe emanating from the BGA," Bratcher wrote in a news release.

Brunner, in turn, blasted Bratcher, "I think the guy would give you the hard sell that the sun rises in the West."

The BGA report also will indicate that well over 50 people went through the crime scene at the Brown's Chicken & Pasta, Brunner said.

Homicide detectives want to keep the number of people entering a crime scene to the lowest number possible to avoid the scene from being contaminated, experts say.

Bratcher said that the number was much lower than 50 but refused to say how many people entered the scene.

"That's blown way the hell out of proportion," Bratcher said.

Bratcher said the log kept of people at the crime scene included those who went past the perimeter but never entered the actual crime scene itself. He also pointed to a footprint of a gym shoe that police believe to be the killer's as proof that evidence at the crime scene was not jeopardized.

Still, Brunner stood by the BGA report's contention that an excessive number of people went through the scene.