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Biometrics leads to arrest of accused child molester on the lam 17 years

David Kravets

Nearly two-decade-old photos of a suspected child molester matched a 2007 passport photo via a biometrics analysis by the FBI, leading to Charles Hollin's arrest in Oregon.
FBI / Aurich Lawson
A fugitive suspected of molesting a 10-year-old Indiana girl 17 years ago has been arrested after the Federal Bureau of Investigation employed facial recognition technology, according to court documents. The bureau said the suspect's US passport photo in December was run though a Facial Analysis, Comparison, and Evaluation (FACE) test, and it matched photos taken before he disappeared nearly two decades ago.
Charles Hollin, 61, was arrested in Salem, Oregon last week at a Walmart where he works. He had both Minnesota and Oregon driver's licenses with his picture on them. The agency said it did not perform a biometrics analysis with those databases because they have not opened up their DMV roles for the bureau to search. The bureau noted in a court filing that the government maintains "top secret" databases containing biometric profiles.
"The Department of Motor Vehicles for Minnesota and Oregon were not searched due to the fact that it was prohibited by law. Additional searches were conducted in various federal secret and top secret databases. All of these searches were negative," Todd Prewitt, an FBI agent, wrote in court documents (PDF).
Hollin had vanished when Indiana authorities went to arrest him in February, 2000. The authorities suspect Hollin abducted a 10-year-old girl, put a stocking mask over her head, drove to a secluded area, and then molested her. They suspect he abandoned the girl naked on an isolated road, where she was found by a passerby. He went by the identity of Andrew David Hall, who was an 8-year-old boy killed in a 1975 Kentucky auto crash, the authorities said.
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the bureau has access to roughly 412 million images as part of its face-recognition database. The bulk of those images are photographs of people who have committed no crime, according to the recent GAO report.
The report says the bureau's FACE unit contains 30 million mug shots, has access to driver license photos from 16 states, the State Department's visa and passport database, and the biometric database maintained by the Defense Department. The report did not mention any top secret database. But it did fault the FBI for being lax about privacy and the accuracy of the photos in its database.
The bureau has used facial recognition to capture other long-vanished suspects. A US fugitive on the lam for 14 years in connection with child sex abuse and kidnapping charges was apprehended in Nepal in 2014 after authorities scanned his "wanted" poster with facial recognition tech.

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