At about 8:25 PM on February 17, 2017, 49-year-old Jeffrey Hogston of Palm Harbor was arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail. He was charged with one count of Sexual Battery against a 24 year-old woman in Clearwater on February 7, 1992.
According to Pinellas County Sheriff Office Detectives, on the evening of February 7, 1992, the female victim who was 24-years of age at the time, was visiting the JD Penguin Lounge located at 23399 US 19 North, Clearwater.
While at the lounge, the victim met a male subject who identified himself as “Tony”. Once the lounge closed, Tony told the victim he was from out of town and he asked the victim for a ride to the Days Inn where he claimed he was staying. The victim agreed.
While driving, the suspect asked the victim to turn into the Quality Inn located at 38724 US 19 North, and drive around to the rear of the hotel. Once parked, the suspect struck the victim and forced her into the backseat, where he sexually battered her multiple times.
After the sexual battery, the suspect ordered the victim to drive him to the intersection of US Highway 19 North and Beckett Way, in Tarpon Springs, where the suspect got out of the vehicle and left the location on foot. The victim called and reported the incident to authorities.
During the investigation in 1992, detectives found a business card the victim had given to the suspect when she first met him inside the lounge. The business card was found in the backseat of the victim’s vehicle, where the sexual battery occurred.
Latent fingerprints were recovered from the exterior of the victim’s vehicle and from the business card that was found inside the victim’s vehicle. The latent prints were examined utilizing an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), but the latent fingerprints were unidentifiable. The case remained inactive for several years.
In April 2016, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office upgraded their current AFIS system with new Morphotrak biometric software. The new software provided improvements in both fingerprint matching algorithms and system architecture, significantly improving the accuracy and efficiency of the current AFIS system.
In July 2016, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office latent print examiners utilized the new AFIS biometric software to processes the same latent fingerprint evidence that was collected in the 1992 sexual battery cold case. The new technology identified one viable candidate. Latent print examiners were able to identify the fingerprints from the crime scene to those of, 49-year-old Jeffrey Hogston of Palm Harbor.
As a result of the new developments in the case, detectives were able to obtain a Pinellas County warrant for the arrest of Hogston.
Bill Schade , AFIS Division Biometrics Records Manager said that the Sheriff’s Office was averaging approximately 150 latent fingerprint comparison hits a month with the existing AFIS system. Since the upgrade to the new Morphotrak biometric software, the Sheriff’s Office’s AFIS system is now averaging more than 230 latent fingerprint comparison hits a month.
The investigation continues.