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Former NFL player Aaron Hernandez is accused of three murders in Massachusetts. Investigators have appealed for information from tattoo artists who inked his right forearm, but won't say which of Hernandez’s many tattoos prompted their appeal.

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FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Los Angeles Sheriff�s department shows convicted murderer Anthony Garcia, who had the scene of an unsolved 2004 murder inked on his chest.

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Tattoos could signal wearers' crimes

  • Associated Press
  • June 4, 2014 - 9:41 AM

Criminal justice experts say there are many tattoos that could signify the wearers committed murders and other crimes. Here are some examples:

— TEARDROPS: Have several possible meanings, including the number of people the wearer killed or the number of stints in prison they served. A clear teardrop can mean the wearer wants revenge for the killing of a loved one.

— SPIDER WEBS, CLOCKS WITH NO HANDS: Can mean the wearer served time in prison.

— STARS: They can be innocent designs. On some prison gang members, however, they can represent the number of people the wearer killed. The number of points on a star can correspond with the number of years served in prison.

— THREE DOTS. Often inked near an eye or on a hand, it can refer to the "vida loca," or crazy life, of a criminal.

— PENAL CODE NUMBERS: Some criminals get tattoos of the penal code numbers for the crimes they committed.

— CATS: Can refer to thieves, especially among Russian criminal groups.

— MASKS AND CLOWN FACES: These tattoos can represent a criminal's "play now, pay later" lifestyle.

Sources:

Clairissa Breen, criminal justice professor, Cazenovia College, Cazenovia, New York; Kevin Waters, criminal justice professor, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan; Michael Phelan and Scott Hunt, University of Kentucky, 1998 article, "Prison Gang Members' Tattoos as Identity Work: The Visual Communication of Moral Careers."

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