Williams* had been in the video store before. But not to rent movies. He had carefully cased the New York City video store noting the location of each surveillance camera.
On November 18, 1993*, Williams visited the store again... this time with lethal results.
As he was leaving the video store after robbing them of the day's cash receipts, Williams fired a shot over his shoulder consistent with his modus operandi.
However, this time it was more than a warning - the stray bullet struck a customer, John Smith*, who was picking up a video he had promised to watch with his two-year-old son.
What Williams did not know was that despite his careful survey of the store's security, a camera hanging in a dark corner captured his image on tape.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) viewed the image, but it was too dark to reveal any useful characteristics of the robber. So the NYPD sent the tape to the FBI's central lab for analysis. The FBI sent it back claiming there was nothing that could be done to ascertain the robber's identity.
It was then that the victim's brother, James Smith*, turned to his colleague, Jeff Glickman of Photek, for help. He knew that Glickman, a computer scientist, had the software and the
technology to restore images from badly damaged or distorted video tapes. Glickman viewed more than 11,000 frames of video over six weeks to isolate the single video frame that
could recover the suspect's image. Nearly 600 man hours were required to recover the image of a hat and a nose and the outline of the suspect's face.
Wallet-size prints were distributed to members of the NYPD. Shortly thereafter, an alert detective identified a suspect being booked on
another offense as Tom Williams, as the suspect in Smith's case. It was soon discovered that Williams was on NYPD's 10 Most Wanted List.
A Grand Jury indicted Williams for the murder of John Smith. He was subsequently tried, convicted and sentenced to three consecutive life terms in a New York penitentiary.
*The names and dates have been changed to protect the privacy of the victims and assailants.
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