During a Fault Lines interview, Joseph Sledge urged government officials to stop using hair analysis in crime investigations. Sledge has a good reason to be upset about the practice. In 1978, he was arrested and kept in jail for 37 years over a crime he didn’t commit.
To arrest Sledge, the FBI relied on matching hair characteristics under a microscope to connect suspects to the crime. This procedure has been often used to resolve violent crimes, but as more and more cases of arrests such as Sledge’s hit the news, it appears that FBI’s approach to DNA-based investigations is ineffective, to say the least.
On January of 2015, Sledge was released after new DNA evidence contradicted the FBI hair analysis from the 1970’s.
When talking about why he was framed, Sledge said the FBI may have used him as a scapegoat “because they had no one to blame.”
At the time of the murder, Sledge had escaped from a prison unit where he was being held for larceny and receiving stolen goods. When he was arrested again, the FBI named him as one of their main suspects. But at the crime scene, two types of hair had been found, pubic and from a man’s head. Sledge claims he was always bald and that he did not have hair on his head then. Police claimed the hair came from the same person, making it hard to believe the hair belonged to the suspect.
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