Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Alton Coleman & Debra Brown: Odyssey of Mayhem

Investigation

Although there were some holes in the authorities investigation, it was clear that they had been expecting the two-person crime wave to return to Evanston. Neighbors in the area said they had heard for three weeks that Coleman and Brown would eventually turn up there. The mood of the neighbors was as jubilant as that of police, who clearly basked under the media spotlight.

There was a community awareness about him, said one neighbor. He wasnt going to be able to come in here and snatch anybody. We were waiting for him.

Residents of the Mason Park area told the media that Coleman looked tired and emaciated when arrested and they speculated that the lethal duo had just run out of steam.

Law enforcement officials thought along similar lines with one officer wondering if they had unconsciously wanted to do so: Coleman had never worried about leaving fingerprints at his crime scenes, and FBI agents said he was so lackadaisical it was almost as if he was trying to leave a calling card.

Those same fingerprints would eventually do in Alton Coleman. Despite his protests that officials had the wrong man, Evanston police were able to positively identify the man arrested in Mason Park as the man who left fingerprints at crime scenes in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky. Fingerprints on file with the FBI conclusively proved that the suspects in custody were Coleman and Brown.

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