Rickie Jackson

Delaware County, Pennsylvania
Date of Crime:  September 1977

Richard C. Jackson was convicted of the murder of 38-year-old Alvin Davis, his friend and former gay lover.  Jackson was a hairdresser who resided in West Philadelphia.  Davis was stabbed to death and his body was found nine days later in his second floor apartment at 422 Long Lane in Upper Darby.

Investigators found bloody fingerprints on a window fan leading to Davis's body.  Police Detective Anthony Paparo then matched the prints to Jackson.  Papparo reported finding at least 11 points of similarity.  Paparo had a fellow fingerprint examiner, County Detective William Welsh, double-check his work.  Welsh concurred.  At trial, Paparo, Welsh, and another expert, Jon Creighton, testified that the prints belonged to Jackson.  The defense had two retired FBI examiners testify that the prints did not match.  However, Davis was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Following the conviction, the defense experts filed a complaint with the International Association for Identifiers about Creighton, the only prosecution fingerprint expert whom that organization had certified.  The association conducted an investigation and then revoked his certification, saying that Creighton's analysis was mistaken.  The complaint also triggered a review of the evidence by the FBI, which concurred that the prints did not match.  Because of the FBI's finding, Jackson's conviction was reversed and he was released from prison after serving more than 2 years of his sentence.

In preparation for a civil suit, an investigator working for Jackson visited the apartment below that of Davis and looked at the ceiling for traces of blood that might have seeped through from the second floor.  However, the building owner told him that all the blood was on the floor of the apartment, not its ceiling. The investigator found large stains of dried liquid that appeared to be blood beneath the carpeting  This evidence had been withheld from Jackson's defense.  The building owner said that there had been so much of the bloodlike substance on the floor that it had warped the floorboards and seeped through to the basement.  Recent tenants had asked the owner to carpet the area because of a bad odor apparently coming from the stains.

Police denied the stains were blood stains, but they were unable to specify what substance had caused them.  They said there was no evidence between the first and second floors to indicate that a bloody body had been carried between the two levels.  An autopsy found that Davis had lost a large amount of blood which did not match up with the amount of blood found on the second floor.

At the time of the murder the first floor apartment was occupied by Davis's landlord, William Leahy, who was a former priest and had found Davis's body.  Jackson said he never met Leahy and did not know how Davis came to live in the second-floor apartment. According to Jackson, “I asked [Davis], but I never got a straight answer.”  Leahy died in 1998.  [4/09]

References:  News Articles, Chicago TribuneVideo

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Eastern Pennsylvania Cases, False Fingerprint Evidence, Homosexuality Related Cases