Handwriting Analysts Keep Society Safe

Handwriting analysis is a remarkable field imperative for putting hundreds of thousands of criminals behind bars every year. The practice catches offenders in the act using their written word, almost as unique as a fingerprint and as identifiable as DNA.

Handwriting analysis is very effective in pinning down kidnappers, bank robbers and even murderers. The subtle differences in loops, curves and lines in written letters and numbers- undetectable to the untrained eye- can disclose to an expert analyst insurmountable information about the writer.

Control comparisons determine the identifying similarities to confirm or disprove suspects. If you take a close look at the BTK (“Bind, Torture, Kill”) Killer, having murdered 10 people between 1974 and 1991 in and around the Wichita, KS area, it was testimony from a professional handwriting analysis that did him in. Having evaded police for 30 years, the murderer was finally tracked down.

His pitfall was internet technology ignorance. Having resurfaced in 2005 with the apparent intent to kill again, the BTK killer once again was reaching out to police. But this wasn’t the early nineties anymore; instead of handwritten letters, the BTK wanted to show he had advanced beyond this. Having sent a ‘text’ communication with police using a mailed floppy disk, the bottom immediately fell out.

The files on the floppy disk told the detectives everything they needed to land a suspect. It showed there were files saved by someone named Dennis and it had been used at the Christ Lutheran Church. Having been essentially handed this information, police almost immediately suspected Dennis Rader, president of the Christ Lutheran Church congregation.

Having blown his decades-long cover after making one of the most rudimentary mistakes, all investigators had to do was let the pieces fall into place. Fortunately, all the letters Rader had written local newspapers, since his reign of terror was underway in the mid-1970’s, were retained as evidence.

The letters Dennis sent to local newspapers and TV stations, as a means of taunting investigators. Experts were able to compare his writings and testify they were indeed made at the hand of Rader. His craving for media attention seemed one of his main motivations throughout the murder spree and, appropriately, the reason for his demise. The BTK killer was subsequently sentenced to nine life terms in prison.

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