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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Crime Spurs Fingerprint Campaign

SYDNEY, Australia -- Australian police began a mass fingerprinting campaign on Norfolk Island on Monday, hoping to catch the perpetrator of the first murder in the tiny South Pacific island for 150 years.

The Australian Federal Police admit to being stumped in their investigation of the death of Australian Janelle Patton, 29, who was stabbed in March in a crime that rocked the close-knit community of descendants of the Bounty mutineers.

With more than 2,000 suspects, they say they hope the voluntary fingerprinting will provide a clue.

"The response from the island residents has been very strong," said AFP detective superintendent Ray Sweeny. "So much so that we are fully booked out this week and are now taking bookings for the weekend."

Sweeny said in a statement that the police hoped to fingerprint up to 80 people per day. Locals, who regularly leave their homes unlocked and keys in car ignitions, say their community has been driven into fear and suspicion by the brutal murder of the hotel restaurant manager. The fingerprinting may help to end fingerpointing, they say.

AFP officers flew to the rocky, tree-lined island off Australia's east coast to help its three-man police force begin the process of fingerprinting all residents aged from 15 to 70. Next will come 680 Australian and New Zealand tourists who were on the island at the time. But the process is voluntary.

The mutineers from the HMS Bounty, who cast William Bligh and 16 loyal ship hands adrift in a boat off the islands of Tonga, came to Norfolk island with their Tahitian wives in 1856. Today, Norfolk is a tax-free Australian territory, but has a unique culture with the Norfolk language a mixture of 18th-century English and Polynesian.