Marti found the first anonymous note lying on top of paperwork on her desk when she came back from lunch break. It was hand printed on common lined paper that was folded in half. The printing was bold and slanted slightly to the left. To Marti, it looked like a man’s writing. The note said, “I’m watching you.” At the time, Marti dismissed it as a joke by a bored co-worker and threw it away.
A few days later, Marti found the second anonymous note on her car windshield when she was leaving work for the day. This note looked just like the first one but this time it said, “Pretty in pink.” She was wearing a pink blouse that day. Marti was upset and kept the note, although she didn’t go to her boss yet. Instead, she became suspicious of her male co-workers. She found it difficult to concentrate on her job, which entailed careful attention to details, because she was busy watching to see if anyone was looking in her direction too much or acting strangely.
Marti began to relax when she didn’t receive any more notes for almost two weeks. She went back to her original idea that it was a co-worker’s idea of a joke, until she found the third note tucked under her car’s windshield wiper at home. This note said, “You see, I know where you live.” She knew the anonymous writer was someone from work as anyone could leave a note on her car, only someone with a security badge could get access to her work area and someone had followed her home from work.
Although Marti was a private person, she was thoroughly frightened at this point and took the note straight to her boss. She was determined that if her employer didn’t take it seriously, she would go to the police. However, her boss Tom took it very seriously. He thought the note looked like it was written by a left-handed man. He wanted to call all left-handed men into his office and haul them over the coals until someone confessed, but Marti insisted she didn’t want anyone to know about it. She found the whole thing embarrassing and wanted the problem solved as quietly as possible.
That’s when Tom got the idea to compare the two remaining anonymous notes to the written personnel records of the men in the office. There were only seven males, but Tom spent several hours poring over their writing samples and comparing them to the notes. To Tom, no one’s writing looked like the writing on the notes. He decided to call to get the help of a forensic document examiner for expert handwriting analysis.
After hearing Marti’s story and learning that the company had only conducted a minimal background investigation on its employees, recommended a more thorough investigation on all employees to include an in-depth criminal background check and civil background check. While some of the employees had criminal or civil records that surprised Tom when they were uncovered, none of the records indicated a dangerous or imbalanced person.
The next step in the investigation involved handwriting analysis of the anonymous notes compared to employees’ personnel records by our expert. Our investigator didn’t limit his analysis to only men. However, there was only one person, a man named James, who seemed to be the probable author of the anonymous notes even though he’d used disguised handwriting.
The last step in the investigation was an interview with James by our investigator trained in detecting lies through body language. James denied writing the notes, but our expert could tell he was hiding something and was unduly nervous. He also accidentally let slip that he knew details about the notes that both Marti and Tom claimed they hadn’t spoken about to anyone. James refused to take a lie detector test and left work immediately after the interview. James never came back to work and the anonymous note writing ceased. Marti believes that James was after a promotion she was in line for and he was trying to frighten her away. She thinks James’ notes would have eventually made her want to leave her position and he would be in line for the promotion.
-Brenda McGinley, CEO, All in Investigations