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Search continues for suspect in 1992 Angela Lawless slaying

Sunday, December 26, 2010 | 6:57 p.m. CST

The head law enforcement officer for Scott County in southeast Missouri hasn't stopped searching for a suspect in a local woman's nearly 20-year-old slaying.

Sheriff Rick Walter told the Southeast Missourian he has enlisted the help of a scientist from England in the case to find Angela Mischelle Lawless' killer. Lawless was shot to death in 1992. Joshua Kezer, a teenager at the time of the murder, was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison, but was exonerated and released in 2009 after Walter reopened the case.

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Now, Walter is working with John Bond, a scientist who has invented a fingerprint detection technique. Walter said Bond can find fingerprints from metal surfaces by analyzing corrosion caused by fingerprint sweat.

"I would have liked an arrest by the end of the year. I don't want to rush or push anything until I have more," the sheriff said. "With this evidence, this may give me a stronger case."

Bond, whose technique was named one of Time magazine's top 50 inventions in 2008, recently discovered a print on a piece of evidence sent to him by Walter and his lead investigator, detective Branden Caid.

Walter declined to give specifics on the evidence Bond studied.

"We sent this to him with the understanding that he gave us less than a 5 percent chance that he would find something. (Bond) said that had this been a year before, he would give us less than a 1 percent chance," Walter said.

Coverage on CBS' "48 Hours Mystery" gave the case a boost in March. A short time later, another show — "On the Case with Paula Zahn" on the Investigation Discovery Channel — aired a feature on the Lawless killing.

Caid said the department may not have discovered Bond's invention without the coverage. He said a man from Syracuse, N.Y., saw the CBS show and called Scott County to tell them about Bond.

"I think we'll get to the bottom of it. Knowing and proving is two different things, obviously, but I think we will find out who did this," Walter said.


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