Twelve-year-old Jessica Maple of Atlanta was enrolled in a summer law enforcement program when she got a rather personal introduction to crime-solving after a real-life burglary case at her family's home in southern Georgia, reports The Daily.
The six-week long Fulton County Junior District Attorney program included field trips to meet the governor, a demonstration of drug-testing equipment and even occasion to sit in the same room as Nancy Grace, and clearly it all made an impact on Jessica.
After class one day, her mom got a call about a vacant house they owned that had been burglarized 160 miles away in Fitzgerald, Georgia. (Jessica's great-grandmother had once lived in the house and the family checks on the house a few times a year.)
Just as the Fitzgerald Police Department had dispatched a patrol unit to respond to a neighbor's report of a door ajar at the Maple property, the Maples showed up.
"Her daughter was with her, and when she got here she was really inquisitive," said Detective Sgt. James Tilley. "She started asking me questions like point of entry and did we get any latent fingerprints. I wondered: One, where'd she learn this? And two, why am I being questioned by a child?"
Once the Maples got to the house, they found smudged fingerprints on the garage door. "It was obvious there had been forced entry," Jessica said. "The police officers just weren't looking enough."
Inside, the house was ransacked, and several items were missing. Unsurprisingly, it was Jessica’s sharp eye that later spotted her great-grandmother's table and chairs at a thrift store when the family went looking for the stolen goods. Luckily for the family, the store's paperwork included a photocopy of the seller's ID card.
"We called the police again," Jessica told The Daily. "I was like, ‘We beat you again.'"