My apologies if you find the removal of fingerprints boring, but the reference department has been positively aflutter over the additional details regarding Roscoe Pitts and the kooky removal of his fingerprints.
First off, a super-creepy photo of Mr. Pitts (real name: Robert Philipps) and his icky chest incisions:
Ewwww. Kudos to Elisabeth for scouring nearly every reference book in our collection on crime, criminals, and the like!
The descriptions of how the chest skin was grafted onto his fingertips after the prints were sliced off just weren't cutting it (haha, get it? CUTTING IT); I needed to know in detail how this happened. I won't tell you how much time Elisabeth and I devoted to talking about this over the past few days.
I came across a website writte by Jim Fisher, a professor in the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, that explains it better:
Using a knife, the doctor peeled the skin from Philipps’ right fingers then taped his hand to skin that had been pulled away from his chest. Three weeks later, when the chest skin had grown onto his fingers, the hand was separated from his chest. The technique worked, on the tips of Philipps’ fingers were patches of smooth, pink skin. The doctor repeated the process on his patient’s left hand. Philipps endured six weeks of boredom and pain but when it was over he was delighted with the results.
Follow the link for more info on Roscoe/Robert.
Nash, Jay Robert. Encyclopedia of World Crime: Criminal Justice, Criminology, and Law Enforcement. Volume III: K-R. CrimeBooks, Inc, 1990. 2457.