Thursday, July 10, 2014


When a body is found, many things happen including fingerprint images are taken from the body and  entered in the nation's NCIC database system. The search for a match within the system can be resolved in as little as 30 minutes if a matching fingerprint pattern is already in the system.

Gerard J. Sniffen, III's prints were entered in the system with a 1996 arrest in Roswell, Georgia.  Because he was over age 18, and not a juvenile, his prints should not have been concealed.  Two years later, an unidentified body was discovered in Baldwin County, Alabama.

Two sets of prints, one body?

It appears two sets of prints were sent to ABI on at least two different occasions, but that the ABI never received but one set of prints taken from the unidentified body, and one set of prints from Georgia - all provided by the Baldwin County Sheriff's Department.
On 12/10/1998 Corporal John Garner wrote that he picked up the unidentified body's set of fingerprints from the lab and entered them into the NCIC database.  On 12/10/1998 Investigating Deputy in charge,  Huey A. Mack wrote that he faxed a copy of prints taken from the body to the ABI and that the unidentified person was entered into NCIC.  Again on 12/15/1998, Huey A. Mack, deputy in charge writes he has contacted the A.B.I. and sent them a copy of the prints, and also entered the body into NCIC and ROCIC.
On 12/22/1998 the ABI writes that it  received a set of unidentified prints from Baldwin County sheriff's department on 12/16/1998; and it received a set of (7) faxes of fingerprints from Baldwin County that had been received from Roswell, Ga on 12/22/1998, bearing the name of Gerard J. Sniffen, III.
What is interesting in this case, is that about the same time the body was found, the report of another Alabama missing person, whose body has never been found (George James) was entered into the files and then disappeared and was lost from Alabama files;   On 12/16/1998, Gerard J. Sniffen, III's records disappeared "by mistake" from Cobb County missing person records.

The body was identified 12/21/1998 as Sniffen's body by fingerprints provided directly to the local Alabama police department via fax by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The local Alabama sheriff's department and investigating deputy in charge, Huey A. Mack, Jr.,  in Alabama then identified the Georgia prints in the office with another officer, and submitted the positive identification and match to the A.B.I. - the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, a division of the Alabama Department of Public Safety.

If prints from an earlier arrest of an 18 year old with a marijuana use record were in the G.B.I. (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) database, why wasn't the John Doe identified much sooner?

The Alabama officer in charge of the Baldwin County investigation, Huey A. Mack, Jr., reported the prints were entered into the system and faxed on 12/10/1998. On the same day, John Garner reported he picked up the prints from the lab and entered them into NCIC.  Records also note in another record the prints were mailed by Mack to the A.B.I. on the 15th and received on the 16th.

Yet the A.B.I. -Alabama Bureau of Investigation - reports they received prints on the 12/16/1998 of an unknown individual, and then on 12/22/1998 they received copies of faxed fingerprints from Huey A. Mack that Mack had received from Georgia.  (Details below.)

Exactly how many times were prints mailed, faxed, and received by Mack, the GBI, and the ABI and it is customary for local police departments to confirm identification without engaging the help or expertise of NCIC and state agencies?

In both jurisdictions in Georgia and Alabama, reports continued to be written and filed weeks later with several key dates reappearing.*

Gerard J. Sniffen, III last known in Cobb County, Georgia 12/8/1998, telephoned home in distress late that evening and spoke with his father mentioning a flat tire.  He was calling from a pay phone at a location somewhere south of Cobb County.

Cobb County, Georgia police were notified on 12/9/1998 of his disappearance by his father.

On 12/11/1998 Cobb County officer D.E. Thomas with the father's cooperation and assistance received via fax information from Bell South via subpoena which provided the Coweta County, Ga. location of the pay phone and convenience store from which Gerard III had phoned his father.  The father was instrumental in providing the Cobb County police agency with all information regarding witnesses, subpoenas, bank accounts, etc.  But the father never provifed the names of two siblings who lived in the same house with him and the victim, ages 17, and 23, nor the Mother of the victim whom he recently had Cobb County police order out of their home with intentions of divorce.

On 12/12/1998 the Nissan vehicle Gerard was driving was discovered along I-85, and impounded by Deputy Donna Gordon of Coweta County, (Newnan. GA area) and notified Cobb County Police. The GCIC system indicated Sniffen as a missing person from Cobb County, Ga.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, (GBI)
On 12/16/1998, Lanny Cox of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation processed the Coweta County impounded vehicle, which had two rear flat tires.

Coweta County, Georgia Investigator John G. Lewis writes:

ALABAMA "JOHN DOE," 12/9/1998:

On 12/10/1998 prints taken from an unidentified body were faxed by Huey A. Mack, Jr., of Baldwin Co., Alabama  to the A.B.I. Latent Print unit in Montgomery, Al.   The person was also "entered into the NCIC."

Alabama Corporal John Garner report:
12/10/98 "The unidentified w/m was entered in NCIC."

On 12/15/1998  Huey A. Mack, Jr.  was contacted by the A.B.I., with reference to the fingerprints entered into the NCIC and ROCIC systems, Shannon at the Alabama Bureau of Investigation advised Mack there were "no hits."

In a 12/29/1998 report Shannon Fitzgerald of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation documented to Lt. Huey Mack, Jr of Baldwin County the following:
  • On 12/16/1998 the fingerprints of an unidentified body were received by the A.B.I. from Baldwin County's police department, Alabama by mail.
  • On 12/22/98, fingerprint cards with the identification of Gerard J. Sniffen, III. were received by the A.B.I. from Baldwin County's police department.

Since my son had a prior 1996 arrest in Roswell, Georgia, his prints should have been in the system and a positive identification should have been made within minutes of the 12/10/98 Alabama "John Doe" entry into the database.

The match took nearly 2 weeks.

On 12/21/1998, Baldwin County's Corporal John Garner writes that the GBI made a match, faxed them the prints, and that Lt. Huey Mack along with another officer examined the G.B.I. prints and concluded the prints matched.

On 12/22/1998, the A.B.I. was notified that Roswell Georgia police, Baldwin County police and the G.B.I. had made the identification when the identifying prints were then sent via fax to the A.B.I. .

Baldwin County police officers, Lt. Huey Mack and Lt. Bryars examined the prints provided by Georgia's Bureau of Investigation, and agreed they had a match.

Next, Baldwin County Corporal John Garner writes that he made direct contact with the Roswell Police Department requesting all information,

On that same day, 12/21/1998, by 4:00 pm, both Cobb County Sheriff's office and Acworth, Georgia police had been contacted by Corporal Garner, a note had been placed on the door of the home and the father had been notified of the identification and contacted Baldwin County police.

On 12/16/98, the A.B.I.  received mailed "John Doe" prints from Baldwin Alabama officer  Lt. Huey A. Mack,  

On that same day, Cobb Georgia police removed Gerard's missing person files from their computers "by mistake."  So when Alabama was searching,  and for a period of nearly a week 12/16/98 - 12/21/98, Cobb's [missing] files couldn't be found.  

Below is the Cobb County police report documenting the removal of  missing files on 12/16/1998.

The Cobb County police investigated the disappearance of Gerard Sniffen, III at the request of the father who provided them with the following witnesses and contact information:

  • D.J. Call, a "best" friend 
  • Mary Rose, a "best female friend" married woman and mother who was having an affair with Gerard 
  • Jeff Locke, who provided bank account information at Westside Bank
  • Kathy Mahoney of Bell South who was the contact for subpoena of phone booth location

Although Mary Rose and D.J. Call were questioned numerous times,  (details to appear in another post) the missing person, Gerard Sniffen III, had two siblings ages 23 and 17.   All three of Sniffen's children were residing in the house with their father, but the two remaining were not interviewed by police.  The mother had been ordered out of the home by Cobb County police with a Cobb County court order on October 16, 1998 as demanded with Gerard J. Sniffen, Jr's. divorce requirements.

On 12/14/1998, mother's first appearance in any police report or investigation is when her divorce  attorney, George Childs of Marietta, Ga. spoke with Coweta County police giving information which was partially untrue.

On 12/17/1998, more than a week after the report of Gerard's disappearance, the detective in charge of the Cobb County investigation, Pamela J. Coalson, first contacted and spoke with the missing person's mother who explained there was a "nasty divorce" on record in Cobb County and that she had not been able to visit with her children.  The record should have been in police files because of the temporary order.  Cobb County police should have known all that had happened was in the midst of a divorce and should have, at least, questioned the mother.

By police reporting information, we're sure of is these:

More than two years before his disappearance, on 6/17/1996  Gerard was stopped and arrested, fingerprinted and taken to jail in Roswell, Fulton County, Georgia.  His name and identification should have been in the Georgia database system or records databases from that point forward.

On 10/16/1998, the missing person's mother, Fielda Michelle Sniffen had been ordered out of her home by Cobb County courts and Cobb County police had processed the order, following her through her house demanding that she pack her immediate belongings, get in the car and leave the house.  A temporary order and the threat of legal consequences kept her from her home and children.

On 12/8/1998 Gerard Sniffen III was last known calling for help from his father from a pay phone at a convenience store in Coweta County, Georgia with a flat tire.

On 12/9/1998 Gerard Sniffen III was reported missing to Cobb County, Georgia police by his father

*On 12/10/1998, Alabama Deputy Lt. Huey A. Mack, Jr. wrote that he faxed the fingerprints to the A.B.I. on 12/10/1998 and entered the unidentified body into the NCIC system.  On 12/10/1998 John Garner wrote he picked the prints up from the lab and put them into the NCIC system.

On 12/12/1998, via Coweta County Georgia police Det. Gordon, per Cobb County Det. P.J. Coalson, confirmed the 12/9/1998 Cobb County missing person information was in place in the GCIC system on discovering the vehicle.  Coalson advised Sgt. Fisher of Coweta County that she would contact him on Monday, 12/14/1998 to advise whether Coweta or Cobb County would process the vehicle.

On 12/16/1998 G.B.I officer Lanny Cox processed the car impounded in Coweta County.

On 12/14/1998 Baldwin County Corporal John Garner reported that besides Sgt. Stallworth, Coroner Huey A. Mack, Sr. and Lt. Huey A. Mack, Jr.,  two members of the Alabama Department of Public Safety were present during the investigation, Warren Stewart and Stan Stabler.  He also reported that the body was not touched until Dr. Julia Goodin and Kevin Putnam of the Alabama Forensics Lab were on the scene to handle the body and the gun.

*On 12/16/1998, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation received mailed prints from Baldwin County Alabama, per a letter from Shannon Fitzgerald dated 12/29/1998.  Huey Mack had written in one report he spoke to Shannon on 12/15/1998 and that she received the prints that day and there were "no hits" in the system which means there was not a match.

On 12/16/1998 - 12/21/1998 Gerard's missing person files were removed from Cobb County's police  computers.

On 12/17/1998 Detective PJ Coalson of the Cobb County police department directly contacted Michelle Sniffen, mother of the missing person and questioned her.

On 12/21/1998 Michelle Sniffen, the mother of the missing person, contacted Cobb County police to verify her son was dead.  Cobb County had no record of his death, and at that time it was discovered the missing person files had been removed from the system by Cobb County police on 12/16/1998 by mistake.

On 12/21/1998 the body was identified when Alabama officer Huey A. Mack, Jr. and another officer, Lt. Bryars, compared prints sent by the G.B.I. from Roswell, Ga. and agreed they were a match.

On 12/21/1998 the father was contacted when Corporal John Garner made contact with both Cobb County and Acworth, Georgia police and arranged to place a death notification note on the father's door.  The father contacted police at 4:00 p.m. and told Baldwin County Lt. Huey A. Mack, Jr,  the story that his son had been distraught and irrational, that he and his wife (the missing person's mother) had separated for the second and final time, and went on to mention details about his son's private life and details of the story.   Corporal Garner listened in to the conversation between the victim's father and Lt. Huey A. Mack and wrote a report:

On 12/21/1998, Lt. Huey A. Mack also wrote and recorded a report about the same conversation five minutes after he'd spoken with the father. Mack mentioned the father confided there was a history of mental illness in the family noting that Gerard had not been diagnosed with any problems.

On 12/22/1998, the A.B.I. was notified the body had been identified by Huey A. Mack, Jr. and Lt. Bryars of Baldwin County, Alabama who had examined the prints and agreed the prints were a match.  The prints had been provided to them from Roswell Georgia police department, via the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

**The body was said to have been stored at Mack Funeral Home, owned and operated by Coroner,  Huey A. Mack, Sr. Baldwin County and father of the investigating deputy in charge.

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