In week five, we tackle some of the left turns that this case has taken over the years – including the anonymous letter.
Actually, we learned that Rebekah’s father Larry has received numerous anonymous letters over the years.
Some were sent by women whose boyfriends or husbands were abusive and had convictions for domestic violence – sadly, there were so many of these stories that not all of them made it into the episode.
One woman told me that her ex-husband attacked her with a machete and then left the house around the time Rebekah was killed. Though there was no evidence linking him to Rebekah’s case, the fact that so many women seemed to think that they were sleeping next to someone capable of committing murder blew me away.
Anonymous tips in a murder case can be sent for many different reasons: Some are legitimate; others could be from the killer seeking attention (like when the Son of Sam and Zodiac serial killers taunted the media), and others could be deliberate attempts to mislead.
We consulted a handwriting expert to try to get clues to the letter writer's personality.
But graphology is far from an exact science: And since we only have one letter without another writing sample for comparison our results are even more limited. Our sample is also on lined paper; experts say that it's better to have plain paper when possible because it allows them to see the size of letters when not limited by space.
Handwriting analysis made headlines recently in real estate heir Robert Durst’s murder trial.
Durst, whose story was catalogued in HBO’s The Jinx, is currently on trial for the 2000 murder of his friend Susan Berman in Los Angeles.
Shortly after the murder, an anonymous individual sent a card to the police telling them that there was a body in Berman’s home.
In 2004 Berman’s stepson brought the police a box of letters written by Durst, and after a thorough handwriting analysis of the letters and the card, experts determined that the samples were a match.
Durst’s letters revealed the same misspelling as the note to the police: Beverly Hills: “Bevereley Hills.”
But the science is not without controversy: In court, it was revealed that handwriting experts had first believed that the letter to police was written by someone else (another friend of Berman's.)
Conclusion: When it comes to investigations, things are not always what they seem – and sometimes a piece of evidence brings up more questions than answers!