Richard Fraser M.D.

In October of 2001 three letters containing Anthrax were sent to Senator Tom Daschle, NBC newsman Tom Brokaw and the editor of The New York Post.

This was not a case concerning forgery but rather behavioral profiling through evaluation of the handwriting and handprinting. A variety of questions were raised in regards to the forensic information within these letters. Although there was a limited material available a profile of the perpetrator could be quickly established by a handwriting analysis:

Anthrax is a potentially lethal bacteria which rarely causes illnesses in this country such that most physicians have never seen a case and are familiar with the disease only through a brief discussion in the first year of medical school. Based on the selection of using anthrax the offender is likely an adult male in a position requiring little contact with the public, or other employees. He likely works in a laboratory or has recently purchased laboratory equipment, has a strong scientific background as he would have to be comfortable working with a lethal bacterial agent. Given the nature of the bacteria he would have acquired the necessary items and medications to protect himself in case of an accidental exposure. He has had a recent anthrax vaccination or has purchased specific antibiotics that work against Anthrax. He also started taking antibiotics unexpectedly.

The offender deliberately selected NBC News and the office of Senator Tom Daschle as the targeted victims. These targets are probably very important to the offender for unknown reasons. He likely expressed this contempt on multiple occasions to others as he would hold grudges for a long time. The victims were not selected randomly as he used the correct address and zip code of each victim and used sufficient postage to ensure delivery. This would not be his first offense and he has also harassed other individuals that have wronged him, likely through anonymous letters.

From his vertical printing and wide spacing one can infer that he exhibits organized, rational thought process. The letters are postmarked from Trenton, NJ and he would therefore be familiar with the Trenton area. The author uses dashes ("-") in the writing of the date "09-11-01." instead of a slash ("/") when printing the date. The number one is not a simple vertical line but rather has an initiating stroke and a horizontal base stroke. The form "can not" is used as opposed to "cannot." Upper case block-style letters are used with the first letter of each sentence and proper names being larger than the others. The printing on each envelope is tilted downward. The envelopes are pre-stamped, which are available directly from the post office. Traditional business envelopes are larger in size.

These traits are indications of isolation, passive aggressive behavior, intense emotions, poor social skills and having attention to detail. Given his passive aggressive nature and expressing his anger in the form of letters any personal relationships are self-serving in their nature. For the years prior to the mailings this person became mission oriented, more secretive and exhibited unusual activity patterns. Being focused and obsessed he would not have shown interest in important national events. The perpetrator likely exhibited significant behavioral changes at various critical periods of time throughout the course of the Anthrax mailings and related media coverage. These may include altering his physical appearance, having increased anxiety, mood swings and change in sleep patterns.

He would also display an increased interest in the media and would have been absent from work especially at the time of the mailing of the letters (09/18/01 and 10/09/01), the death of first Anthrax victim and media reports of each anthrax incident.

FYI: Handwriting analysis and the art of forgery detection have many names, including document examination, questioned document examination, questioned writing analysis, handwriting evaluation, questioned handwriting examination, questioned signature verification, forgery evaluation, forgery analysis. A handwriting examiner is also referred to as a document examiner, handwriting expert, handwriting specialist, handprinting examiner, handprinting expert or a specialist in forgery detection. Questioned document examination and forgery detection differ from graphology also called behavior profiling in that a questioned document examiner is concerned about authenticating the writing through comparison with know samples, as compared to evaluating the psychological and personality traits of the author.