Diary of a Bookie Revealed
A Document Examination Case Study
By Linda M. Batykefer, Marketing Manager
Figure 1: Images of December 28 obliterated entry using HSI method. Writing interpretation: CAll A- SORRY WRONG #
Figure 2: Image of December 30 obliterated entry obtained using HSI method. Writing interpretation: PAY – DE?- MARK – ATN TO BONG TO EAT TO
Figure 3: Images of December 31 obliterated entry. Top: Obtained using a blue light and adjusted with Photoshop using lab color mode. Bottom: Obtained via HSI method. Writing interpretation: IOLA – TOM & GAYle JOlE & SONYA TO EDGWATeR 8500 TO GERMAN CLUB 6- HOME SNOWSTORM 2:30
Figure 4: Images of the January 1 obliterated entry. Top: Obtained using blue light and adjusted with Photoshop using lab color mode. Bottom: HSI extract showing clearer view of original writing. Writing interpretation: MK & SARA OVER VIKES LOSE TO DALLAS 23-6
Document examination involves a wide variety of criminal investigations related to uncovering forgeries, alterations or counterfeit printed and handwritten documents. It also involves uncovering obliterated or indented writing that may reveal information about a case. However, not all document examinations involve criminal investigations; some deal with civil cases or personal matters.
Steven Drexler, owner of Drexler Document Laboratories, LLC and a private document examiner, received a case such as this for evaluation. It revolved around a personal diary from 1976-77 that his client received as part of a number of family heirlooms that had been passed down from his grandfather. The diary contained notes of a personal nature and included notations related to payments, meeting places and sports scores. In addition, the diary contained obliterated writing that his client was curious about it, as he felt that these sections may hold some important information about his grandfather’s past.
Mr. Drexler utilized a number of examination tools in his laboratory to decipher the writing, including digital imaging, diachroic filters, short and long wave UV lights, a homemade video spectral comparator and Photoshop image analysis functions. While these tools helped to uncover some of the obliterated writing, a few words were still unclear. Mr. Drexler contacted scientists at ChemImage Corporation to see if hyperspectral imaging (HSI) could help to uncover the rest of the masked text.
Forensic scientists at ChemImage used the HSI Examiner™ 100 QD system to collect hyperspectral images of the obliterated diary entries on December 28, 30, 31 and January 1. Visible reflectance hyperspectral images were obtained for each obliteration with the following parameters: white light broadband illumination, wavelength range of 400 – 1100 nm in 5 nm steps. After raw images were collected, the scientists employed a number of hyperspectral image processing steps including dividing the image by a 99% reflectance standard to remove instrument response, applying vector normalization and Principal Component Analysis, and utilizing a reduce noise filter to further enhance contrast.
The processed hyperspectral images were reviewed to find frames which provided the most contrast between the original writing and the obliteration, allowing the original writing to be seen. The images to the right are extracted frames from the hyperspectral images, providing a clearer view of the original writing.
Based on the interpretation of the writing, it appears that the owner of the diary was making notes consistent with the rest of the diary, and typical of a bookie. For example, note the January 1 notation of the ‘Vikes lose to Dallas 23-6’.
These hyperspectral image extracts were submitted to Mr. Drexler and compared with images collected from the in-house work he had done. The HSI method was successful in uncovering additional writing which was not able to be seen with other methods; ultimately providing the client with more information about his heirloom.
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