- People who have lost touch with loved ones or want to find their birth parents
- Families in the midst of hostile divorces and contentious child custody cases
- People whose lives have been thrown into chaos by public accusations or acts of defamation
- Parents whose hearts are broken over the loss of a child, whether by their being missing or having died
Once such set of parents were devastated by the death of their only son, Paul*. The circumstance was that Paul and his girlfriend had been found dead. The police determined that Paul had murdered his girlfriend and then committed suicide. His parents did not believe that that was what happened. Although their son was not perfect, they felt that their son would never have hurt his girlfriend, and he definitely would not have committed suicide.
The problem was that there was a note, a suicide note. In that note, the scenario accepted by the police was laid out clearly. His parents did not believe he wrote that note.
Police had returned Paul’s possessions to his parents, including his cell phone and his computer, which they brought for digital forensic investigation. Using sophisticated data mining software, the computer forensic specialist was able to recover emails that had previously been deleted. That forensic data recovery did not prove someone had murdered the couple, but it did reveal another facet of his life: He was involved in drugs and drug dealing.
At first, the results of the computer forensics investigation were refuted by his mother. She said she didn’t believe it. But once the cell phone investigation was complete, and the mobile device forensics revealed text after text outlining meetings and deals, her opinion changed.
There was no point in conducting any cellular tower triangulation or cell phone tracking because the phone had been with Paul when his body was found. So the parents, heartbroken, still not believing it was suicide, felt they had no other recourse.
In additional conversations, they were asked what made them believe that their son did not commit suicide, there was, after all, that note. That was the problem his mother said, it didn’t look like his handwriting on the note.
Immediately we suggested a forensic examiner look at the document and that the services of an expert handwriting analysis professional be secured. Paul’s parents accumulated many different examples of Paul’s handwriting and those, along with the note were submitted for a handwriting analysis test.
In this case, the determination did not hinge on forged signatures like it does so often in the case of forged checks or document forgery, but in actual handwriting analysis from pages of hand written schoolwork compared to the text of the alleged suicide note.
The handwriting analyst determined that the handwriting on the note was NOT Paul’s handwriting.
The parents took the handwriting analysis expert’s report to their attorney who then submitted it to the authorities. Another handwriting analysis, this time comparing the note to the girlfriend’s handwriting was done. But that wasn’t a match either. The case was reopened and the results of the digital forensics and data recovery forensics were all submitted.
Even though the case is still open under investigation, Paul’s parents have peace in their heart that Paul was not a perpetrator, but a victim. He’s still missing from their lives, but they feel his honor has been restored.
-Brenda McGinley, CEO, All in Investigations, All in Investigations