Thursday, July 10, 2014

Gerard J. Sniffen, III: Description & Misdentification

The identification of my son's body was determined when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) contacted the Baldwin County, Alabama sheriff's department supplying the Alabama agency with fingerprints that had been made in 1996, Roswell, Georgia. When Alabama's investigating deputy in charge, Huey A. Mack, Jr. received the prints, he and another officer (Bryars) examined the prints in the sheriff's office and determined the Sniffen prints supplied to them by the GBI matched the John Doe prints. 

I had driven to Alabama the day before the Cobb County, Georgia memorial service in attempt to identify the body which was still being stored in Alabama during the Georgia funeral, but was told the morgue was closed at 5:00 p.m. I was unable to stay the night there to visit, and was afraid there alone as I had suspicions that criminal organizations were involved.

There are major indicators and many details that indicate the body found was not my son's: 

First, the initial report, first at the scene reports a victim with shoulder-length dark hair and my son never had shoulder-length hair in his life.  

Second, forensics lab reported a body with 3-inch scars, one at each knee, and my son never had knee surgery, leg or knee scars, nor identifying scars of any kind anywhere on his body.

Georgia fingerprint identification card notes a male 5- ft., 10-inch white male, weighing 160 lbs.  Two years later, the Alabama Forensics Department recorded details of an unidentified 5-ft., 8-in. white male, weighing 144 lbs. These are just a few of the factors that prove something is very wrong in Alabama and Georgia in this case.

Many other details from reports and police create suspicion, particularly with the change of clothing and  the method by which the fingerprints were the identifying factor.  Below are some of the details:

One of the first police officers to attend the scene was Deputy Mike Holmes who wrote a report. This appears to be Mike Holmes's only report.   In his report he wrote that the subject had "long," and "shoulder length" dark hair:

Holmes described the clothing of the victim:

The Alabama Forensics report recorded hair as 6-inches long at the crown of the head. 

(see image below)

My son never had knee surgery, leg scars, leg injury.  
He had no notable scars on his body yet Alabama Forensics autopsy report indicated two, well healed three inch scars - one on each knee. 


According to this Corporal John Garner report dated 12/14/1998, the subject had changed into Larry Crenshaw's stolen clothing before killing himself with Larry Crenshaw's stolen rifle.  At some point in the midst of adorning himself with Larry Crenshaw's clothing, the subject or someone else, folded the subject's original clothing and placed it on the floor just inside the front door.

The subject changed out of his Tommy Hilfiger shirt and clothing, folded it and placed it beside the front door.  He then  stole Larry Crenshaw's machine shop shirt and sweatpants and wore them before killing himself with Crenshaw's shot gun. He also stole some of Larry Crenshaw's whiskey.

The Alabama Forensics report indicated the body was clad in a Crenshaw Machine Systems t-shirt, grey sweat pants, blue shorts and a black cap which also had the logo, Crenshaw Machine Systems.


The Alabama forensics report documented a white male 68 inches in length weighing 144 pounds.  While I hadn't seen my son for two months I can testify that up until October 16, 1998,  when I had been ordered out of our home, he never had an underweight day in his life.  I would have guessed his weight as around 160 because of his mesomorphic body style and athletic build.  There was no fat, but plenty of muscle and a medium stature.


Even before the Alabama Bureau of Investigation had the fingerprints in their system,  Baldwin County police were on a tattoo trail.  In a supplement report, on 12/14/1998, Officer James D. Stallworth writes that on 12/11/1998 he had photographed the tattooed ankle and taken the photograph to several tattoo parlors, gathering information he relayed back to Corporal John Garner.  While search for the tattoo was ongoing, the John Doe fingerprints would not reach the Alabama Bureau of Investigation until December 16, 1998.

While the fingerprints are noted in reports to have been placed in the system almost immediately (12/10/1998,) the ABI never received prints until December 16, almost a week after the body was found and five days after the tattoo was being investigated.

On final identification, 12/22/1998 Corporal John Garner writes that the GBI had also confirmed a tattoo on his left ankle "of a 'blue spinning sawblade,' which also matched the John Doe."

The Alabama Forensics report notes the tattoo on the ankle was 6-inches in diameter.

The identification of the Baldwin County "John Doe" was made ultimately by matching fingerprints,  when Huey Mack, Jr. personally made the match at the sheriff's office, while a notable identifying issue on the body's discovery was a tattoo located on the ankle.

My son had a small tattoo on his ankle.  A professional tattoo was acquired to cover up the old, makeshift one amateurs at school had attempted when he was younger.  When he showed the new tattoo to me, I became very upset with him saying, "It's terrible. It looks like a sawblade."  There would be an echo of my words years later with his disappearance by Baldwin County's Corporal John Garner, one of the main players in the investigation.  The size of his ankle could not have accommodated a 6-inch diameter tattoo, as noted in forensics reports, without it wrapping his lower shin front and back.

The tattoo on my son's ankle was between two and three inches in diameter.  While the tattoo story is convincing, being a graphics artist,  more than a tattoo story would convince me of the truth.  Fake tattoos are plentiful and can be purchased by design.

On 12/11/1998, James D. Stallworth wrote, "I  obtained a copy of the photograph of the tattoo on the left ankle of the unidentified white male involved in this case. I took the photograph to Precision Ink Tattoos on Gulf Shores Parkway and to Emerald Coast Tattoos, located on West Beach.  Neither place had ever seen that tattoo, nor had they ever applied a tattoo that resembled it.".....

On 12/21/1998 on final identification, Lt. Huey A. Mack, Jr. in speaking with the father wrote, "Mr. Sniffen confirmed the tattoo,  fingernail description and clothing description of his son."  (The fingernail description would have been about bitten fingernails.) 

Page 3 from an Alabama Forensics report records, "Identifying marks and scars on the body include a 6 inch in diameter tattoo on the anterior left shin. It is of a dark blue and green circular blade."

12/21/1998 Corporal John Garner writes, "the information from the GBI also identified Sniffen as having a tattoo on his left ankle of a blue spinning sawblade, which also matched our John Doe."  I then contacted the Roswell PD and had them fax the information they had on Sniffen to me."


Investigating deputy Lt. Huey A. Mack, Jr. and Lt. Bryars compared and agreed the prints supplied by the G.B.I. matched prints taken from the Baldwin County John Doe.

Forensics Report shows the blood was negative for alcohol and other basic drugs, and positive for marijuana.

Although forensics report showed there was no alcohol in the system, Corporal John Garner indicated the subject had stolen whiskey.  Later in a newspaper article which featured the event with Sheriff Huey Mack, Jr., it was reported that the subject had been "swigging whiskey."

According to Forensics, the identifying blood stain card was discarded from their records:


In 2006 I created a blog for several reasons.  I had requested help from many entities in law enforcement and authorities in state governments who had done little to nothing and had no interest whatsoever.  I had utilized lawyers to attempt to get information but realized I could quickly go completely broke trying to investigate three states in paying attorneys and private detectives.  In addition to this, I had been told by two lawyers there was "too much money" against me to ever unravel the story and I knew for ever dollar I could spend, $10 could potentially be spent against me.

The blog did more: it reached Alabama, and in 2009 I was approached by a journalist at the Mobile Press Register. She'd read my blog and she was ready to "get on the ground and running" and do an investigation.  We agreed that she wouldn't publish the story until I proof read it.   Ms. Kramer did not keep her end of the agreement and her path for the investigation was directly to the office of Sheriff Huey A. "Hoss" Mack, who as a deputy 10 years earlier had been in charge of the investigation.

The newspaper article was filled with errors and holes, just like the police and forensics reports. 

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