#2. Robert Phillips Removes His Fingerprints, Marking Him Forever
Robert Phillips left a string of baffling crime scenes for police in the 1940s, due to his ability to never leave behind fingerprints. Before DNA tests came along and made crimes harder to get away with and prime time television infinitely more difficult to enjoy, fingerprinting was the only surefire way to prove that a suspect was actually present at the scene of a crime. Fingerprints are both unique and damn near impossible to remove -- John Dillinger tried using acid to get rid of his in the 1930s and failed completely.
"Hey, baby, is it my smoldering gaze or -- oh no, my fingers are just burning. Yeah."
So, likely taking special notice of Dillinger's idiotic ploy, career criminal Robert Phillips came up with a much more well thought out plan for fingerprint removal in 1941. Phillips simply convinced a doctor to graft skin from his abdomen and surgically sew it where his fingerprints were. Just like that, Phillips went down in history as the only known successful case of someone permanently blanking out their fingerprints.
With that achievement under his belt, there was only one thing left to do ... get back to stealing shit. Phillips went on a crime spree that left police clueless. For a while.
"I wonder why that guy didn't want fingerprints. Welp, back to stabbing myself in the head with a scalpel."
See, there was a problem: Fingerprints are generally attached to something else that leaves impressions on whatever it touches. That, of course, being a hand. While police found no fingerprint evidence, what they did find were several prominent palm prints with anatomically incorrect blanks where the fingerprints should be. This would end up being vitally important a few weeks later when Phillips was arrested. Shockingly, it seems that a person with no fingerprints sticks out like a non-fingerprinted sore thumb when it comes time to book people into jail. It's not like there are millions of fingerprintless people walking around out there. It was pretty much just Phillips. So his printless fingers were just as damning as a matching set of prints would have been.
Blaming the deformity on an "industrial accident" while pointing to his crotch was unsuccessful.
And, when police compared the crime scene palm prints to the palm of the almost-brilliant-but-not-quite Robert Phillips, they were a perfect match. Phillips was subsequently tried and convicted of several crimes, and the rest of the world's thieves decided to just keep wearing gloves.
That said, the screen of Phillips' iPad would be the cleanest in all the land if he were still around today.
If he was able to grip it.
#1. Joe Hunt Leaves Behind a Murder "To Do" List
Joe Hunt was undoubtedly the most intelligent person on this list. He'd managed to pass the California exam for CPAs at the tender age of 19. Not only that, he'd started an investment firm called the Bombay Bicycle Club that was raking in money and making him a wealthy man, well before the age of 30. Who knew there was so much money to be made in bicycles? He'd also accumulated a group of followers who thought he was the messiah of money, and years later the whole venture would become the subject of a miniseries starring Judd Nelson.
We should point out here that all of that money he was making had actually been embezzled from the funds he was supposed to be using for investments. So there were clouds in his future, in the sense that someday he'd need to explain what happened to the cash. That's where a man named Ron Levin came in.
Levin had picked up on Hunt's bullshit investment scam right away. Being a con man himself, Levin knew a rookie when he saw one and decided to have a little fun with the punk. Levin had given Hunt an investment account with five million dollars in it for Hunt to invest and grow. After some initial difficulty, Hunt managed to get the balance up to around 15 million bucks, four of which were supposed to be for him.
You know, he casually made 10 million, like how we'd casually go into space or casually become Spider-Man.
To celebrate his newfound riches, he bought expensive cars and threw lavish parties he planned on covering when the payment came through. Except there was one minor detail Hunt didn't know about ... there wasn't actually any money. The whole account and all of the investments supposedly made with it were phony. Levin had been pulling a fast one on Hunt. Not to steal money or anything -- purely to make Hunt look like a fool, purely for the shits and giggles of it all.
Hunt didn't think it was funny, especially since he took Levin at his word, now looked like an idiot in front of his boys and was suddenly looking at a lot of bills that Levin's amusement could do nothing about. Hunt wanted his money and Levin's life. He made out a detailed written plan, which included planting letters and a contract in Levin's files talking about how the seven-figure check to Hunt was totally legit. Then he and the friend set about killing Levin's ass and disposing of his mortal remains.
"Now who's most likely to become a Q-tip, huh?"
It was beautiful; they'd never find his corpse, and on top of the money, Levin would learn not to mess with Hunt (at least he would have if he wasn't dead at the time). The disposal phase turned out to be a complete success; Levin's body was never found. Elsewhere, the plan appeared to be working, too; the police located the planted letters as expected. Hunt had pulled off the perfect crime ... but damn if there isn't always one more minor detail with that Ron Levin guy.
As planned, police located the letters indicating that the check written to Hunt was indeed legitimate. In fact, they were found not far from the fucking to-do list Hunt put together prior to committing his crime.
It all went a bit weird after "kill dog."
That's right: Hunt made a list of things to do in order to pull off the perfect murder, and then left that list of things to do right at the goddamn murder scene. We haven't seen the actual list, but we have a hard time believing that "leave this list for police to find" was anywhere on it.
For more criminal buffoonery, check out The 7 Most Baffling Criminal Defenses (That Sort of Worked) and 6 Baffling Mistakes Criminals Apparently Make All the Time.