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Reading the Mind of a Killer; Letters and Calls May Yield Clues to Forensic Scientists
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Criminal investigations; Evidence; Serial murders; Forensic sciences
Author: Serge F. Kovaleski and Raymond McCaffrey
Date: Oct 24, 2002
Start Page: A.13
Section: A SECTION

Two handwritten letters and an unknown number of telephone calls from the serial sniper may contain key bits of information that could allow investigators to draw a more comprehensive analysis of the elusive suspect, experts in forensic analysis said yesterday.

Anything left by a suspect in a homicide case has the potential to identify the killer, and investigators initially look for fingerprints and other evidence that could be matched with criminal databases. In this case, an analysis of the first letter has not yielded any usable forensic evidence that would lead to an identification of the sniper, according to two law enforcement sources.

Even if the letters do not yield direct evidence, such as a fingerprint, they do contain much that lends itself to minute analysis by experts. Roger W. Shuy, a forensic linguist whose career has included working on the Unabomber investigation, said that linguistic profiling is a critical tool because criminals can reveal themselves through their use of language.

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