New technology helps Pinellas detectives crack 1992 rape case

- The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says detectives believe they've finally solved a 1992 rape case thanks to new fingerprint identification technology.

The victim, who was 24 when the alleged crime happened, is now 57-years-old. Almost exactly 25 years ago, she was visiting he JD Penguin Lounge in Clearwater when she met the suspect who called himself Tony.

Tony told her he was from out of town and asked her for a ride to the Days Inn. But things took a turn. The victim said Tony asked her to pull into the Quality Inn on U.S. 19. Parked in the rear of the hotel, the victim says Tony forced her into the back seat and raped her multiple times. Then she says he made her take him to Tarpon Springs, where he got out of the car and ran off near U.S. 19 and Beckett Way. 

Detectives investigating in 1992 found a business card in backseat of the victim's car. The victim had given it to the suspect when they first met. From that card, they were able to pull a latent fingerprint. At the time, the print was not identifiable through fingerprint identification technology. 

But in April, 2016, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office upgraded its system with new software. And in July, 2016, print examiners sued the new software to test the latent fingerprint and they found a match.

Detectives got a warrant for the arrest of 49-year-old Jeffrey Hogston of Palm Harbor. He was taken into custody on February 17 and was taken to the Pinellas County Jail. Hogston was charged with one count of sexual battery.

A representative from the company that makes the technology said the sheriff's office was averaging 150 latent fingerprint comparison hits a month before the upgrade. Now detectives should be able to accurately identify 230 latent fingerprints a month.

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