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After publicly welcoming the forthcoming Senate Crime Committee inquiry, state governor Owen Grisby of Capitol City worries that if the committee investigates his fingerprints they will find that his real identity is John Williams, a man charged with murder. Grisby has been paying top lobbyist Carl Chercourt for protection, but his politically savvy henchman Blake warns that Carl cannot protect Grisby from the FBI and that they must destroy the fingerprint file if Grisby is to run for the Senate next year. To that end, Blake blackmails petty criminal Paul Craig into forcing his sister, Natalie Craig, an unsuspecting FBI file clerk in Washington D.C., to pull John Williams' file. The next day when Natalie pulls the file, Donald, another clerk, takes notice but Natalie irritably dismisses him. That night Blake's ruffians force Natalie's car to crash, killing her on impact, but do not find the file in the car. Later capable FBI agents Glen Stedman and Jeff Donley match fingerprints found at the scene of the crime to George Denton, a psychologically unstable, convicted murderer. That evening Donley and Stedman report the death to Natalie's roommate and fellow FBI file clerk Shirley Wayne, and she discloses that Paul and Natalie lunched together earlier that day and both seemed extremely nervous. When the agents question Paul, he claims not to have seen Natalie for several days and, though the agents are suspicious, they release him. The next day Donald tells Donley and Stedman about his encounter with Natalie, but admits he can not pick out the mysterious file from among the 10,000 other John Williams' files. In another part of Washington D.C., a hotel clerk identifies Denton as a guest after seeing a wanted poster and calls Donley and Stedman, but Denning kills the clerk and escapes before the agents arrive. After they discover the clerk, the agents go directly to Paul's apartment and find him murdered as well. The next day, when the newspapers report that Paul is only near death, Denning sneaks into Paul's hospital room to finish the job and walks straight into the agents' trap, but falls to his death in an attempt to escape. At his office, Grisby considers resigning but the deviously determined Blake puts Grisby's fingerprints in an FBI file intended for an unidentified Capitol City drunk recently found dead. Blake explains that when the authorities send the prints to FBI headquarters for identification and match them to John Williams, the file will be closed because John Williams will be officially dead. Back at headquarters Donald receives the prints and, recognizing John Williams' name, takes them and the matching FBI file to Donley and Stedman, who discover the fingerprints match but the descriptions do not. They deduce that Williams is an influential man and fly to Capitol City to investigate the body, but no trace of the drunk's belongings or his remains are found for identification. Stedman flies back to Washington D.C. to enlist Shirley to get information from her fiancé--Carl Chercourt--who, the agents believe, knows Williams. Shirley refuses and later that night tells Carl that rumors inside the FBI implicate him in Natalie's death. Carl denies any involvement and calls Blake to question him about Williams. Blake responds by telling Carl he must force Shirley to pull Williams' file. Shirley at first submits to Carl's demand but later bravely offers to help the agents instead. That evening at Carl's apartment Shirley gives a phony file to Carl, who in turn gives it to Blake. The next day, using surveillance film showing Carl's visitors from the previous evening, the agents narrow the list of suspects. Meanwhile when Shirley leaves headquarters she is assailed by Blake, who, having identified the prints as fake, demands that she get the right ones. Shirley returns to headquarters and Donley gives her a forged set of prints and a wireless walkie-talkie disguised as a purse. Later when Carl and Blake pick her up from headquarters and drive to the governor's house, the police and FBI follow them, just out of sight but in range of the walkie-talkie signal. Once inside Blake burns the prints but Shirley claims to have made a duplicate set. When Blake grabs her purse to check, he discovers the radio and announces to Donley and Stedman, who are listening in, that he is taking Shirley hostage. Grisby, weary of the deception, surrenders, but just as Donley and Stedman arrive, Blake makes a run for it alone and jumps into a waiting speedboat. A police helicopter circling above shines a light on the boat while Stedman takes a shot, wounding Blake and causing his boat to crash. Grisby is taken into custody and the FBI successfully closes another case.