Prime suspect

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A prime suspect or key suspect is a person who is considered by the law enforcement agency investigating a crime to be the most likely suspect.[1][2] The idiom "prime suspect" believed to have originated in 1931.[1] "Key suspect" is seen as early as 1948.[3]

There are various reasons a person may be considered a prime suspect. These include:

  • Being positively identified as the only person seen at or near the scene of the crime around the time the crime occurred
  • Being linked by some form of forensic evidence, such as DNA
  • Being named by witness(es)
  • Having the most likely motive to commit the crime
  • Having knowledge that only one who committed the crime would have
  • Having a history of committing crimes with some resemblance to the crime being investigated
  • Having confessed to the act


  1. ^ a b "Prime suspect".'s 21st Century Lexicon., LLC. 06 Aug. 2014.
  2. ^ "prime suspect". Retrieved August 6, 2014. 
  3. ^ Congressional Record Volume 94, Part 9. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1948. p. A-695. Retrieved August 24, 2014.