The 370-word ransom note in the JonBenet Ramsey case is the most intriguing piece of evidence, but can experts judge it accurately from afar? The Associated Press asked that question after the Rocky Mountain News cited a handwriting analyst who was “99.9 percent certain” samples written by suspect John Mark Karr matched the note. The next day, the paper reported that the same expert had been disqualified by a federal judge as an expert witness. Meanwhile, New York attorney Darnay Hoffman told the Boulder County district attorney that his experts had proven Karr could not have written the note, adding “You may be the victim of a hoax.”
David Krajicek, vice president of Criminal Justice Journalists, publisher of Crime & Justice News, told the AP that the Internet has made it easy for reporters to find an expert in any field at a moment’s notice. But it’s not always clear who is the best qualified to comment. “You like to think the guy or the woman knows what they’re talking about,” Krajicek said. “There’s no guarantee. This is not a medical science. So much of it is opinion, so much of it is punditry.” Mark McClish, a federal marshal and author of “I Know You Are Lying: Detecting Deception Through Statement Analysis,” said reading the note and listening to Karr’s statements can reveal clues, but they alone do not make a case. “It is a valid science, but there are not too many absolutes,” he said.