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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 93117 Find in a Library
Title: Issues in the Identification of Handprinting - A Case Study in Anonymous Death Threats
Journal: Journal of Police Science and Administration  Volume:12  Issue:1  Dated:(March 1984)  Pages:81-98
Author(s): T Armistead
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 18
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Using a case study of a handprinted anonymous death threat, this analysis demonstrates the promise and the problems of identifying the authors of handprinting.
Abstract: Handprinting raises very different questions of identification than to cursive writing. This is because many writers as less habituated to printing than to cursive writing. In cursive script, connecting strokes within and between letters constitute a critical feature for identification. While highly variable, halting, or extremely deliberate letter formations may constitute signs of disguised or forged cursive script, these features are not reliable indicators of disguise or forgery in a printed script. To a greater extent than in cursive writing, handprinters are at liberty to choose between the use of capital and lower-case letters. As cursive writing is a skill learned before handprinting, more people can handprint. Handprinting is often the script of choice for writers of anonymous or disguised messages, apparently because many believe that handprinting is less identifiable than cursive script. The case studied involved six anonymous, multipage threatening letters and two photographs with obscene messages on the back of them. All of this material was handprinted and sent to a young woman or to her employer. A suspect was arrested and charged with extortion. The successful comparison of the suspect's sample handprinting with the anonymous letters indicated that one key to identification of handprinting can be the mixed use of block and manuscript letters. The most important issue was the availability of three samples produced under different conditions providing sufficient material for identification of occasional features. Features fundamental enough to be present in all samples could be identified as well. Some problems in identification are noted. Photographs of the handprinting samples analyzed are included along with four references.
Index Term(s): Handwriting analysis; Suspect identification
Note: *This document is currently unavailable from NCJRS. Presented to the 35th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Cincinnati, Ohio, February 17, 1983.
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