Handwriting analysis

Discussion in 'Justice for JonBenet Discussion - Public Forum' started by rashomon, May 26, 2007.

  1. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    What is your pro-Ramsey poster's source for that scale of 1-5? I've never seen any actual, authentic scale with a score from 1 to 5 related to any professional handwriting analysis, certainly not at the time of the murder or in the decade afterwards.

    Lou Smit provided Judge Carnes, through his deposition with Lin Wood, with more disinformation and maybe downright lies regarding the actual evidence in this case than anyone, other than the Ramseys themselves.

    Patsy and John Ramsey were the first source I am aware of who put the "1 to 5" scale in the public. They, however, were not handwriting experts, nor have I ever seen their actual source for that scale. Alex Hunter actually quoted THEM, when he repeated it on a TV talk show. Par for the DA Office's course in this case, unfortunately for any hope for justice....

    Well, this is all I know: you have to be blind or willfully unable to see the obvious to miss the amazing consistencies in the ransom note and Patsy's writing; not to mention, to ignore the fact that it was Patsy's pad, Patsy's pen, and the Ramsey's linguistics, down to the "VICTORY!" that Patsy's sister Pam stated Patsy finally got some 10 years later when Patsy died, is nothing short of obtuse denial.
     
  2. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    There was no source for the 5-scale except a common sense shoehorning from the 9-scale.

    It's just a method of argument, koldkase. Instead of screaming at the poster that they didn't use a 5-scale (which had been done for years), I assumed that the 5-scale was legitimate and then showed that their conclusions were inconsistent.

    Using a 5-scale, Smit's statement that the consensus was that Patsy scored a 4.5 is inconsistent with his other statement that the consensus was that she scored "inconclusive and below." On a 5-scale, 4.5 would be "highly probable did not write."

    On the 9-scale, however, 4.5 comports with "inconclusive and below."

    QED
     
  3. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    In 2008, Lucinda Franks published "John Ramsey's Lingering Suspicions," an article about her interview with him. Regarding Patsy's handwriting resembling that of the ransom note, she says this:

    "Patsy became a suspect because of the similarity of her writing to that of the ransom note, 'But no expert would say that the handwriting absolutely matched,' John says."

    Absolutely matched? I thought he'd been telling us that she was as unlikely a candidate as anyone could possibly be without being eliminated.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2010
  4. Elle

    Elle Member

    Even without all the handwriting expert's opinions which were excellent on this forum from Delmar England and Cherokee, there are quite a few of us here who see Patsy Ramsey written all over this ransom note. Her personality comes through.
     
  5. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    Recently I became aware of references from two apparently independent forensic sources to a 5 point handwriting scale. One was from a forensics blog and contained a mere mention of that scale co-existing with the 9 point scale. The other was from a laboratory class in forensics at the University of Keele and contained this description of the scale:

    Five point scale for handwriting analysis

    1. Conclusive evidence that both are written by the same person

    2. Supporting (strong) evidence that they are by the same hand but the possibility of different individuals cannot be ruled out

    3. Inconclusive because of equivalent similarities and differences or lack of evidence to work on

    4. Supporting evidence that different individuals wrote both the specimen and the questioned writing but the possibility of both being by the same hand cannot be ruled out

    5. Conclusive evidence that different individuals were responsible for the specimen and questioned documents


    From Lou Smit's deposition we have this verbal description of the handwriting experts' results. Smit's quoting them so I'm going to assume he's accurate:


    SMIT: "Chet Ubowski, his results -- and this is a very brief rendition of his results. There were indications that Patsy Ramsey wrote the note. There is evidence which indicates that the ransom note may have been written by Patsy Ramsey. But the evidence falls short of that necessary to support a definite conclusion.

    Leonard Speckin, he is a police expert, private forensic document analyst. 'Lack of indications. I can find no evidence that Patsy Ramsey disguised her handwriting exemplars. When I compared the handprinting habits of Patsy Ramsey with those presented in the questioned ransom note, there exists agreement to the extent that some of her individual letter formations and letter combinations do appear in the ransom note. When this agreement is weighed against the number, type, and consistencies of the differences present, I am unable to identify Patsy Ramsey as the author of the questioned ransom note with any degree of certainty. I am, however, unable to eliminate her as the author.'

    Edwin Alford, Jr. 'Lack of indications. Examination of the questioned handwriting and comparison of the handwriting specimens submitted has failed to provide a basis for identifying Patsy Ramsey as the writer of the letter.'

    Lloyd Cunningham, Ramsey expert, he is the one that certified Chet Ubowski. 'Lack of indications,' that he cannot identify or eliminate Patsy Ramsey as the author of the ransom note. And he has spent 20 hours examining the samples and documents and has found that there were no significant individual characteristics but much significant difference between Patsy's writing and the note.

    Richard Dusick, he is the analyst for the United States Secret Service. These are the results of his specific report. 'Lack of indications. A study and comparison of the questioned and specimen writings submitted has resulted in the conclusion that there is no evidence to indicate that Patsy Ramsey executed any of the questioned material appearing on the ransom note.'

    Howard Ryle [sic], the former CBI examiner,'probably not.' His opinion in this case is between 'probably not' and 'elimination,' elimination as Patsy Ramsey as the author of the ransom note. He believes that the writer could be identified if historical writings were found.

    The results, the general consensus is inconclusive and below that Patsy wrote the note."



    Using the description given above, I rate the experts' opinions numerically using the 5 point scale like so:

    Ubowski--2
    Speckin--3
    Alford--3
    Cunningham--4
    Dusick--3
    Ryle--4.5

    The majority are "no conclusion," i.e., "inconclusive" as Smit himself says. Maintaining that the experts' opinions could be "collectively described" as 4.5 is simply perverse. When Hunter was asked about "4.5," he said that he remembered it more as being "4," presumably because the 3s can be bumped to 4s. But Speckin is a solid 3 while Alford and Dusick can only, in my opinion, be stretched to 3.5.
     
  6. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    Aha, I think

    I think I know where "Patsy scored 4.5 out of 5 with 5 being elimination" comes from. In Hunter's deposition he's asked by Lin Wood about a Ramsey-lawyer arranged meeting between the DA and the Ramsey handwriting experts, Cunningham and Rile/Ryle. Wood says that they used a scale of five for purposes of their discussion, though it wasn't necessarily an "agreed upon" scale. Hunter remembered Patsy coming up a 4.

    I can't tell if there were any other handwriting experts there. (I suspect not.) It would make sense that these two experts would rate Patsy as 4/4.5, judging by excerpts from their reports as divulged by Lou Smit in his deposition.​
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  7. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    I looked in Paula Woodward's book to see if I could find out more about this meeting. She says that in May 1997 the Ramsey handwriting experts, Rile and Cunningham, gave a presentation to the DA and the police department to explain why Patsy wasn't the author of the note. This is the meeting in which Lin Wood says a "not agreed upon" 5 scale was used for purposes of discussion instead of the standard 9 scale. I'm not sure why if everybody in the room could count to 9. I don't think the Ramsey experts used a 5 scale in their reports. Cina Wong said that she was asked recently (by ABC, I think) about Patsy's statement that she scored 4.5 out of 5. Wong replied that a 5 scale was not in use. Since Wong has both of the Ramsey experts' reports, I would expect she would know if a 5 scale was used in them.

    When we hear "4.5 out of 5" I think we can assume that only the opinions of the two Ramsey experts are being represented.​
     
  8. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    In Forensics Under Fire the author says that Rile's appearance before Michael Kane and the grand jury was a "nightmare" that left Rile stunned and shaken. He asked for a do-over but was denied. The book is blatantly biased toward the Ramsey side so an anecdote that shows any of them in other than the best light has a good chance of having validity.

    In the past I've thought that Ubowski rated Patsy pretty close to identification. I've come to think, however, that he might have been more conservative than that in his report. His report is quoted by Lou Smit as saying that there are "indications" that Patsy wrote the note. The choice of language is undoubtedly important. "Indications did write" is one of the rungs of the nine scale. If 1 is identification and 9 is elimination, "indications did write" would be 4.

    If Rile and Cunningham came into their presentation talking about 4s and 4.5s on a scale of 5, it might not be clear to their listeners that they were using a different scale, that their 4 was different from the 4s of other experts.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017
  9. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    Maybe we need to factor in when the JonBenet handwriting analyses were taking place. From Scientific Examination of Questioned Documents by Kelly and Lindblom:

    "In 1995, the ASTM E30.02 Questioned Document Subcommittee drafted and passed as standard terminology E1658,'Standard Terminology for Expressing Conclusions of Forensic Document Examiners,' based on that Journal of Forensic Science letter. Included in the original standard is a suggestion that it may also be used in examinations other than handwriting and that there is no requirement of a document examiner to use all of the levels of opinion. It is recognized that some laboratories use five or seven levels, typically omitting the 'indications' or 'probably' terms. "


    So it looks like things might not have completely settled down in the handwriting examiner world in 1997. Eliminating the "should have knowns," the fundamental problem of different scales remains. You can't simply say it's 60 degrees outside if everybody assumes you're talking Fahrenheit (if you mean Celsius). Big difference there.

    By the same token, Ubowski's "There were indications that Patsy Ramsey wrote the note. There is evidence which indicates that the ransom note may have been written by Patsy Ramsey...." and Cunningham's "Lack of Indications....there were no significant individual characteristics...between Patsy's writing and the note" shouldn't both be 4s on the same scale. ​
     
  10. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    This isn't about handwriting scales, just Patsy's handwriting....

    On January 4 Patsy provided three exemplars. On February 28 she provided two. In between the two sessions, her lawyer was provided a xerox of the ransom note. It's interesting to look at an example of how her handwriting changed after she had the advantage of scrutinizing the note.

    Ransom note: Police, F.B.I., etc.,

    January 4:
    Patsy 1: police, F.B.I., etc.,
    Patsy 2: police, F.B.I., etc.,
    Patsy 3: Police, FBI, etc.,


    February 28:
    Patsy 4: police, FBI, etcetera
    Patsy 5: police, FBI, etcetera

    (There are other changes between sessions, like banishment of her manuscript a.)

     
  11. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    The whole phrase is "Speaking to anyone about your situation, such as Police, F.B.I., etc., will result in your daughter being beheaded." It suddenly occurred to me that that's some complicated punctuation scheme there in the middle of the sentence. Did Det. Arndt tell Patsy the punctuation as she was dictating it? I looked into it a bit and the person dictating isn't supposed to give coaching about spelling or punctuation so I'm betting that Arndt didn't. But Patsy got every period and comma "right" the first two times through.

    And Patsy got the three exclamation points in the note right the first time through. That's not necessarily surprising since they are at the beginning and end of the note, but on subsequent passes she starts replacing them with periods or commas.

    It's interesting to me that Patsy, like the RN writer, leaves out the comma before "John" in "Don't underestimate us John" and "It is up to you now John!" but she throws one in a couple of times in "Don't try to grow a brain John." She obviously knows there's supposed to be a comma in direct address.

    (I'm relying on charts from Forensic Linguistics by Gerald McMenamin. I don't recommend buying it because he was hired by Ramsey and is definitely dancing a tarantella with the guy that brung him--in an often ludicrous way. Also at least a couple of entries in the typewritten charts are incorrect. For instance on February 28 Patsy writes "10 A.m." the first time, but McMenamin's chart doesn't reflect that. He has her writing a manuscript "a" there, but both times on February 28, she writes "A." Where I've been able to check and have found errors, the errors are in Patsy's favor.)​
     
  12. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    The ransom note writer and Patsy share a penchant for occasional random capitalization. I don't know how common this is in the population. I don't do it myself.

    I'm referring to McMenamin's charts and using his line numbering.

    Ransom note page and line numbers after "RN." Patsy's exemplar number after "P." There are 5 exemplars in all: 3 on Jan. 4, 2 on Feb. 28.


    [RN1:11] Letter
    [P1] Letter
    [P2] Letter

    [RN 1:19] bag
    [P1] BAG

    [RN1:26] delivery
    [P1] Delivery
    [P2] Delivery
    [P3] Delivery

    [RN2:6] her
    [P1] Her

    [RN2:9] so
    [P4] So

    [RN2:12] Police
    [P3] Police

    [RN2:13] being
    [P1] Being

    [RN2:13] Law
    [P3] Law

    [RN2:16] bank
    [P2] Bank​
     
  13. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    I plugged "FBI, F.B.I." into Google Ngram Viewer to see the relative frequency in printed material after 1935 when the FBI became known as such. "FBI" wins by a mile from the beginning. Would personal usage reflect this pattern? I don't know. I would be inclined to write "FBI" and I was born a few years before Patsy.

    The New York Times and Time (I believe) use "F.B.I." but this appears not to be the norm.

     

    Attached Files:

  14. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    I notice that Wood and company persist in claiming in their lawsuits that the six handwriting experts virtually eliminated Patsy as the author of the note. It's simply not true. That's based on Lou Smit's addlepated understanding of what happened when the two Ramsey experts gave their presentation, aided and abetted by the Ramsey lawyer who expertly led Lou by the nose.​
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2017
  15. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    I've discussed a few things in this thread about Gerald McMenamin's analysis of Patsy's writing in Forensic Linguistics so I'll post the style markers he lists for her. McMenamin tells us that he's choosing her style-markers specifically to contrast with the RN, and then concludes, unsurprisingly, that her style differs from the ransom note writer's and she is therefore excluded as the author. He uses as an example of this that Patsy writes "pick up," John "pickup" and the RN writer "pick-up." (Hyphenation is probably the most variable part of my own writing style. Depends on the weather, I think.)

    While he acknowledges that the RN writer might be disguising his or her style, he discounts the idea that Patsy might be putting acreage between herself and the note in her post-murder writings:

    PR 01 Correct spelling of "business"
    PR 02 Correct spelling of "possession"
    PR 03 Misspelling of "advise" as "advize"
    PR 04 Lack of correction in spelling "denied" (To match the RN she would have had to write "din..." and then fix it)
    PR 05 Misspelled "burial" as "buriel" (Got a real chuckle out of that.)
    PR 06 Misspelling and correction of "advise" as "advize" with additional correction
    PR 07 Misspelling of "scrutiny" as "scruitiny" in passes 1 and 2 (after which she spells it right)
    PR 08 Use of capital "S" in "Southern"
    PR 09 Presence of periods in "am"
    PR 10 Periods (instead of "!") after "Victory" in passes 2 and 3 (and 4, 5)
    PR 11 No periods used in "SBTC"
    PR 12 "Unharmed" is one word (Ahem, excuse me, in pass 5 she writes "un harmed.")
    PR 13 Using the correct article in "an earlier"
    PR 14 "Pick up" has no hyphen
    PR 15 Writes "counter measures" (But she writes "countermeasures" in her individual word exemplars)
    PR 16 Use of single word for "outsmart"
    PR 17 Use of single word for "underestimate"
    PR 18A $118,000. has no trailing zeroes
    PR 18b $100,000. has no trailing zeroes
    PR 18C Wrote "100 dollar" without "$"
    PR 18D Wrote "$18,000." with no trailing zeroes in pass 3
    PR 18E Use of word "dollar" without "$"


    "Lack of correction in spelling 'denied'" is an odd one. Is he implying that the RN writer would habitually do that, correct the spelling of "denied"?

    Under the heading of periods after initials, McMenamin chooses "FBI" for John so you might think he would use "F.B.I." for Patsy. Nope, that's not the game, remember, so it's "SBTC"​
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  16. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    Here's an example of how Patsy's manuscript a changed between sessions. I'm using photocopies of Patsy's handwriting from Forensic Linguistics by Gerald McMenamin.

    Ransom Note: 10 am

    January 4:
    Patsy 1: 10 a.m.
    Patsy 2: 10 a.m.
    Patsy 3: 10 a.m.

    Patsy's lawyers provided a photocopy of ransom note after Jan. 4 session.


    February 28:
    Patsy 4: 10 A.m.
    Patsy 5: 10 A.M.

    (The period after the a in Patsy 1 could possibly be a tail on the a. But the other manuscript a's on the page don't have tails and the dot appears to be separated from the letter: I think it's a period. It's pretty squeezed in there. Afterthought?)

     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
  17. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    I'm redoing my previous post to make it clear that the Ramsey lawyers were provided a photocopy of the ransom note after the Jan. 4 session, not the other way around. I also reworded a couple of other things for clarity. Why not leave the ability to edit alive for a longer time? It helps to go back with fresh eyes after a few days.


    Below is an example of how Patsy's manuscript a changed between sessions. I'm using photocopies of Patsy's handwriting from Forensic Linguistics by Gerald McMenamin.

    Ransom Note: 10 am

    January 4:
    Patsy 1: 10 a.m.
    Patsy 2: 10 a.m.
    Patsy 3: 10 a.m.

    Patsy's lawyers are provided a photocopy of ransom note after Jan. 4 session.


    February 28:
    Patsy 4: 10 A.m.
    Patsy 5: 10 A.M.

    (The period after the a in Patsy 1 might be a tail on the a. But since the other manuscript a's on the page don't have tails and the dot appears to be separated from the letter, I think it's a period. That would also make it consistent with the other exemplars from that session. I noticed that that particular period appears to be squeezed in there. Was it an afterthought?)

     
  18. fr brown

    fr brown Member

    Below is Smit's testimony about the conclusions of the handwriting experts:

    'SMIT: Yes. I am referring to the slide. Chet Ubowski, his results -- and this is a very brief rendition of his results. There were indications that Patsy Ramsey wrote the note. There is evidence which indicates that the ransom note may have been written by Patsy Ramsey. But the evidence falls short of that necessary to support a definite conclusion.

    Leonard Speckin, he is a police expert, private forensic document analyst. "Lack of indications. I can find no evidence that Patsy Ramsey disguised her handwriting exemplars. When I compared the handprinting habits of Patsy Ramsey with those presented in the questioned ransom note, there exists agreement to the extent that some of her individual letter formations and letter combinations do appear in the ransom note. When this agreement is weighed against the number, type, and consistencies of the differences present, I am unable to identify Patsy Ramsey as the author of the questioned ransom note with any degree of certainty. I am, however, unable to eliminate her as the author."

    Edwin Alford, Jr. "Lack of indications. Examination of the questioned handwriting and comparison of the handwriting specimens submitted has failed to provide a basis for identifying Patsy Ramsey as the writer of the letter."

    Lloyd Cunningham, Ramsey expert, he is the one that certified Chet Ubowski. "Lack of indications," that he cannot identify or eliminate Patsy Ramsey as the author of the ransom note. And he has spent 20 hours examining the samples and documents and has found that there were no significant individual characteristics but much significant difference between Patsy's writing and the note.

    Richard Dusick, he is the analyst for the United States Secret Service. These are the results of his specific report. "Lack of indications. A study and comparison of the questioned and specimen writings submitted has resulted in the conclusion that there is no evidence to indicate that Patsy Ramsey executed any of the questioned material appearing on the ransom note."

    Howard Ryle, the former CBI examiner, "probably not." His opinion in this case is between "probably not" and "elimination," elimination as Patsy Ramsey as the author of the ransom note. He believes that the writer could be identified if historical writings were found.

    The results, the general consensus is inconclusive and below that Patsy wrote the note"'

    AND here are the gradations of the nine point scale:

    Identification
    Highly probable did write
    Probably did write
    Indications did write
    No conclusion
    Indications did not write
    Probably did not write
    Highly probable did not write
    Elimination

    Four out of six of the experts stated their opinion as "lack of indications." I haven't found this terminology in the standards, but since Ubowski and Rile both use terminology from the nine point scale, it's reasonable to think that the others must be using a correlate to something in that scale. Given that Smit says the consensus is "inconclusive and below," "lack of indications" seems to be equivalent to "no conclusion." "No conclusion" is the option when there are significant limiting factors such as disguised handwriting in questioned and/or known writings, or a dearth of comparable writings. In other words, there is insufficient data to form a conclusion.

    Speckin, Alford, Cunningham and Dusick are, it seems, straddling the middle-of-the-scale fence with Speckin leaning toward the identification side and Cunningham leaning toward the elimination side. ​
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2018
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