A woman who stole $206 worth of hotel-room paraphernalia told Buffalo, N.Y. police that her twin sister was the real culprit. As it turns out, the woman was not a twin, but does that trick ever work for real identical twins?
Absolutely. Newspapers are littered with stories of twins who confused police and prosecutors, either intentionally or unintentionally. The most notorious duo may be George and Charles Finn, former World War II pilots who were embroiled in a legal battle with the federal government in the 1950s over their claim to a C-46 transport plane. To prevent the feds from seizing the aircraft, one of the twins absconded with the plane and hid it in the Nevada desert. Although police eventually found the pair and the missing plane, the grand jury failed to indict either Finn, because an eyewitness couldn’t distinguish between them. The Finns’ physical similarities came back to haunt them in 1960, when police mistakenly arrested Charles in a hunt for George on charges unrelated to the plane controversy. Charles brawled with police through a federal building before authorities finally realized they had the wrong member of the “flying, fighting Finn twins.”
Decades later, police are still struggling with the same problem. In 2009, a pair of Malaysian identical twins was spared from execution when the judge ruled that prosecutors failed to prove which twin was the true owner a stash of narcotics. (Drug trafficking carries a mandatory death sentence in Malaysia.) In February of last year, eyewitnesses insisted that either Orlando Nembhard or his twin brother, Brandon, committed a murder outside an Arizona nightclub. The problem for investigators is that the witnesses disagreed on which twin was the gunman. After holding Orlando for months, prosecutors eventually dropped the charges, because they couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that either of the Nembhard twins committed the crime. Outraged relatives of the victim demanded that police “put [the twins] in a room and let them battle it out.”
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