In 2004 John Juarez, 23, was gunned down in a Los Angeles Hispanic neighbourhood. For four years the murder had gone unsolved until the sharp eye of a top cop saw a picture of the crime scene...tattooed on the chest of a mug shot.
In LA gang members are routinely asked to remove their shirts so that tattoos can be photographed by graffiti team deputies. It's a crime tool since the tattoos often have the signature tags inked into their body that they also use when tagging buses and storefronts.
Juarez had been a member of the Pico Nuevo gang. Other gangs in the area called the gang 'peanuts.'
For years LA sergeant Kevin Lloyd had been trying to solve Juarez's murder. Lloyd had been an investigator at the scene of the murder and knew the evidence of the case. When he happened to see the mug shot of Anthony Garcia aka "Chopper" of the Rivera-13 gang who had been arrested after a routine traffic stop he knew he had the missing link to solve the crime.
The tattooed image had the murder scene staring right back at Lloyd under an inked Rivera Kills. From a street sign to Christmas lights the body art showed the key points of the murder. The most telling part of the tattoo was that of a helicopter firing guns at the victim drawn as a Mr. Peanut. The way the trajectory of the bullet was depicted in the tattoo was exactly what had taken place in 2004.
Lloyd was sure he had his man. It was time to prove it. Garcia was arrested for attempted murder and placed in a holding cell with two undercover cops posing as older gang members. It didn't take long for Chopper to brag to the cops about his tattoo and the story behind it. That holding cell confession was captured on hidden microphones that the officers were wearing.
Chigago Tribune reports:
"Sergeant Kevin Lloyd's incredible observation of Garcia's extraordinary tattoo, combined with great investigative work is one of the reasons why sheriff's homicide investigators are known as 'The Bulldogs,' said Sheriff's Captain Mike Parker. "Fate and tenacious police work brought this convicted murderer to justice."
Garcia, 25, was convicted of First Degree Murder for Juarez's murder on Wednesday. He is facing 65 years to life when he is sentenced May 19, 2011, in Norwalk Superior Court.