Tattoos could etch into solving crime - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tattoos could etch into solving crime

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The body is a canvas for tattoo artists, but the pieces of art could etch into helping solve crime.

"The art of it has changed so much," said tattoo artist Troy McDaniel. "When I started tattooing in 1996, a lot of it was primarily flash and people come in and pick something off the wall and you'd just do it."

McDaniel owns Lefty's Tattoos and Body Piercing in Cedar Rapids and says the meaning of tattoos could be as deep as the needle being etched into your skin.

Tattoos are more personalized and unique to the individual getting it, and they usually make a statement to display a person's love for something.

It's that uniqueness that makes tattoos another useful tool in identifying people.

"Like the incident that came up with the girl, a family member was able to see it," said McDaniel. "Probably would've gotten solved with or without the tattoo through investigation, but it sure helped speed up the process."

Wednesday the Linn County Sheriff's Office released a picture of a tattoo to help identify a woman's body found near Walker.

Not long after, family members say it was that tattoo that helped them identify the body as Crystal Gaffney's.

It may have helped connect Gaffney's death to the AMBER alert issued for her three children in Black Hawk County, ultimately leading to the arrest of 36-year-old Shawn Hogan.

"I've heard on the news several times that it's helped solved bank robberies and a lot of people get visible tattoos," said McDaniel.

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