Useful Internet sites:


Dr. Joy Aked (L107), Tel: 0141 848 3895, E-mail:

David Main (L238) Tel: 0141 848 3794, E-mail:


Web Sites:


The standards of these sites varies widely. Some links may now be broken due to the web site having been moved or taken down. Use search engines to seek out other web sites on particular topics related to the course. If you find a web site which you feel is useful to the course please let us know and we will include it on the list.



Sites containing Useful Forensic Links


Federal Bureau of Investigation



Central Intelligence Agency



National Archive of Criminal Justice Data


Knowledge Solutions Library


The Home Office


Scottish Criminal Records Office


Scottish Prison Service


Forensic Linguistics



Bibliography of Handwriting Analysis



Criminal Profiling Archive



Serial killers Research Resources





Eyewitness research



Bibliography of eyewitness studies


Date rape


Elder abuse




Domestic violence against men:


Forensic Psychology Books


FORENSIC VIDEOS: The popularity of forensic psychology has seen a rise in the number of television documentaries relating to this subject. A selection of videos dealing with subjects such as profiling, serial killers etc are have been recorded and are available for viewing within the university. These videos cannot be taken out directly by students but we can arrange for a video to be shown if there is sufficient interest. Obviously in terms of administration, we would appreciate if students organised themselves into small groups if they wish to view any of the videos. At present we are compiling a list of forensic based videos which on completion we will be distributed in class. If you wish to watch any of the videos, try to form a group with other students and then contact a member of staff to arrange a suitable viewing time.




Forensic Psychology Reading List by Topic



There are innumerable references for an area as broad as Forensic Psychology. The general forensic texts (above) cover the major issues and definitions. However, below are listed some more specific texts and journal articles for specific areas covered in this course.



The books and articles should all be available from the library. However, if you encounter items listed which are not in the library, please contact either Joy Aked or David Main.




General Introduction


Otto, R.K. (2002) The Practice of Forensic Psychology: a look towards the future in light of the past. American Psychologist 57(1) 5-18



Forensic Linguistic references



Baker, J.C., (1988). Pace: A test of Authorship Based on the Rate at which New Words Enter an Authors Text. Literary and Linguistic Computing,Vol3(1), 1-3.


Damerau, F.J. (1975). The Use of Function Word Frequencies as Indicators of Style. Computers and the Humanities, Vol.9, 271-280.


Canter, D. (1992). An evaluation of the “Cusum” Stylistic Analysis of Confessions. Expert Evidence, 1, 93-99.


Gudjonsson, G. H.  and Haward, L.R.C. ( 1998). Forensic Psychology. A Guide to Practice. Routledge. In particular, Chapter 7.


Hardcastle, R.A. (1993). Forensic Linguistics: an assessment of the CUSUM method for the determination of authorship. Journal of Forensic Science Society, Vol. 33(2), 95-106.


Hilton, M.L. & Holmes, D.I. (1993). An Assessment of Cumulative Sum Charts for Authorship Attribution. Literary and Linguistic Computing, Vol 8. No. 2, 73-80.


Kenny, A. (1982). The Computation of Style. Chapter 1- The Statistical Study of Literary Style. Oxford Pergamon Press.


Kniffka, H. (1996) Recent Developments in forensic Linguistics. Peter Lang


McMenamin, G.R. (2002). Forensic Linguistics. Advances in Forensic Linguistics. CRC Press.


Michaelson, S. & Morton, A.Q.(1972). Last Words. A test of Authorship of Greek Writers. New Testament Studies, 18, 192-208.


Morton, A.Q. (1991). The Scientific Testing of Utterance. Journal of the Law Society of Scotland, September, 1991.


Morton, A.Q. & Farringdon, M.G. (1992). Identifying Utterance. Expert Evidence, 1,84-92.


Morton, A.Q. & Michaelson, S. (1990). The Qsum Plot. Internal report no. CSR-3-90, Department of Computing Science, University of Edinburgh.


Morris, R.N.(2000) Forensic Handwriting Identification. Academic Press.


Nickell, J. (1996). Detecting Forgery. Forensic Investigation of Documents. University Press of Kentucky.


Oakman, (1980). Computers in Literary research. Chapter 7 – Stylistic Analysis. University of South Carolina Press.


Sanford, A.J., Aked, J.P., Moxey, L.M. and Mullin, J. (1994). A critical examination of assumptions underlying the cusum technique of forensic linguistics. Forensic Linguistic. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, Vol.1 (2), 150-167.


Smith, M.W.A. (1987). Hapax Legomena in Prescribed Positions: An Investigation of Recent Proposals to Resolve Problems of Authorship. Literary and Linguistic Computing, Vol 2, No. 3,  145-151.


Smith, M.W.A.(1989). Forensic stylometry. A theoretical basis for further developments of practical methods. Journal of the Forensic Science society, Vol.29(1), 15-33.


Stratil, M. & Oakley, R.J. (1988). A Disputed Authorship  Study of Two Plays attributed to Tirso de Molina. Literary and Linguistic Computing, Vol 3,, 153-160.


Totty,R.N., Hardcastke, R.A. & Pearson, J. (1987). Forensic Linguistics: The Determination of Authorship from habits of style Journal of the Forensic Science Society, Series A, 27, 13-28.



Profiling references



Books specifically on profiling


Ainsworth, P. (2001) Offender Profiling and Crime Analysis.  Willan Publishers.


Canter, D. & Alison, L. (1999). Profiling in Policy and Practice. Ashgate Publishing.


Cook, S. (2001). The Real Cracker. Investigating the Criminal Mind. Channel 4 Books,  Macmillan.


Holmes, R.M. and Holmes, S.T. (1996). Profiling Violent Crimes. Theory, Research and Practice. John Wiley and Sons.


Jackson, J.L. (Ed) and Bekerian, D.A. (1997) . Offender Profiling. John Wiley and Sons.


Turvey, B. (1999). Criminal Profiling. Academic Press



Journal articles


Canter, D. (1989) Offender Profiles. The Psychologist. 2(1) 12-16


Canter, D. V. & Heritage, R. (1990) A multivariate model of sexual offence behaviour: Developments in offender profiling. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry. P185-212


Canter,D. & Fritzon, K. (1998). Differentiating arsonists: A model of firesetting actions and characteristics. Legal and Criminological Psychology, Vol. 3,73-96.


Canter, D. & Gregory, A. (1994). Identifying the residential location of rapists. Journal of the Forensic Science Society, Vol. 34, 169-175.


Canter,D. & Larkin,P. (1993). The environmental Range of Serial Rapists. Journal of Environmental Psychology. Vol.13, 63-69.


Douglas, J.E. & Munn, C. (1992). Violent Crime Scene Analysis. Modus Operandi, Signature and Staging. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Vol61(2), 1-10.


Gerbeth, V. J. (1981). Psychological Profiling. Law and Order, 29, 46-52.


Gerbeth, V.J. (1986). Mass, serial and Sensational Homicides: The Investigative Perspective. Bulletin N.Y. Academy of Medicine, 62, (5), 492-496.


Hazelwood, R.R., Dietz, P.E. & Warren, J, (1992). The Criminal Sexual Sadist. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 61,(2),12-20.


Homant, R.J, & Kennedy, D.B. (1998). Psychological Aspects of Crime Scene Profiling. Criminal Justice and Behaviour, 25,(3), 319-343.


Knight, R.A., Warren, J. I., Reboussin, R. & Soley, B. J. (1998). Predicting Rapist Type from crime scene variables. Criminal Justice and Behaviour, 25, (1), 46-80.


Linley, A.P. (2002) Expert Psychological Analysis: Interview with Paul Britton. Psych-talk, 35, p4-14


McCann, J.T. (1992). Criminal Personality Profiling in the Investigation of Violent Crime: Recent Advances and Future Directions. Behavioural Sciences and the Law, 10, 475-481.


Pinizzotto, A.J.(1984). Forensic Psychology: Criminal Personality Profiling. Journal of Police Science and Administration, 12,(1), 32-40.


Pinizzotto, A.J.  Finkel, N.J. (1990). Criminal Personality Profiling. An Outcome and Process Study. Law and Human Behaviour. 14, (3), 215-233.


Ressler, K.R., Burges, A.W. & Douglas, J.E. (1983). Rape and Rape-Murder: One Offender and Twelve Victims. American Journal of Psychiatry, 140 (1), 36-40.


Vorpagel, R.E. (1982). Painting Psychological Profiles: Charlatanism, Coincidence, Charisma, Chance or a New Science. Police Chief, Jan 1982,156-159.


Serial and Mass Murder:


Academic texts on serial killers are quite abundant. An early example is Holmes & De Burger (1988) This work is presently available in an updated form written by Holmes and Holmes (1998). Another good example of this type of work is David Lester’s “Serial Killers”. Joel Norris’s “Serial Killers” although published as a “True Crime” book is an exploration of the potential causes of serial murder. However, it is hampered by a lack of any references. Work on Psychopaths by e.g. Bob Hare provide useful information on some aspects of serial killers. Krafft Ebbing’s book, Psychopathia Sexualis includes 237 case histories. It was written at the end of the 19th century, but the cases that consider “lustmurder” sadism and fetishism show parallels and similarities to aspects of modern studies of serial killers.



Relevant journal articles are published within a variety of disciplines e.g.; psychology, psychiatry, sociology, legal and law enforcement periodicals.






Books and book chapters:


Brady, I. (2001) The Gates of Janus: An Analysis of Serial Murder by England’s most Hated Criminal. Feral House


Cameron, D & Frazer, E. (1987) The Lust to Kill. Oxford, Polity Press.


Egger, S.A. (1990) Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon (Chapter 1 “Serial murder: A synthesis of literature and research” p1-34) Westport, Praeger


Godwin, G.M. (2000) Hunting Serial Predators: A Multivariate Classification Approach to Profiling Violent Behaviour. London. CRC Press.


Hare, R.D. (1993/1999) Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us. New York Guilford Press


Harrower, J. (1998) Applying Psychology to Crime. (Chapter 3). London, Hodder & Stoughton


Hickey, E.W. (1997) Serial Murderers and their victims.


Holmes, R.M. & De Burger, J. (1988) Serial Murder, Beverly Hills, Sage. (see Holmes & Holmes edition below)


Holmes, R.M. & Holmes, S.T. (1998) Serial Murder (2nd edit) London, Sage.


Krafft-Ebing R.Von. (1886/1997) Psychopathia Sexualis: The Case Histories. London, Velvet


Lester, D (1995) Serial Killers: The Insatiable Passion, Philadelphia, The Charles Press.


Norris, J (1988/1997) Serial Killers: The Growing Menace, London, Senate.


Ressler, R  Burgess, A. & Douglas, J. (1988) Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives. Lexington, MA, Lexington Books.


Sears, D.J. (1991) To Kill Again: The Motivation and Development of Serial Murder (Chapter 4 – “Psychological explanations” p55-77) Delaware, SR Books


Simon, R. I. (1996) Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream: A Forensic Psychiatrist Illuminates the Darker Side of Human Behaviour. (Chapter 11) Washington, American Psychiatric Press



Journal articles:



Baeza, J.J. & Brent, E.T. (1999) Sadistic Behaviour: A literature Review. Published online at:


Brittain, R.P. (1970) The Sadistic Murderer. Medicine, Science and the Law. Vol. 10, p198-207


Dietz, P (1986) Mass, Serial and Sensational Homicides. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, Vol.62, p477-491


Hale, R (1993) The Application of Learning Theory to Serial Murder: “You Too Can Learn to be a Serial Killer”. American Journal of Criminal Justice. Vol. XVII (2) p37-45


Hazelwood, R.R. & Douglas, J.E. (1980) The Lust Murderer. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Vol. 49(4) p18-22


Holmes, R.M. & Holmes, S.T. (1992) Understanding Mass Murder: A Starting Point. Federal Probation. Vol.56 (1) P 53-61


Jenkins, P. (1990) Sharing Murder: Understanding Group Serial Homicides. Journal of Crime & Justice, Vol. 12 p125-148


Leibman, F.H. (1989) Serial Murderers: Four Case Histories. Federal Probation. Vol 53(4) P41-45


Liebert, J.A. (1985) Contributions of Psychiatric Consultation in the Investigation of Serial Murder. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. Vol.  29, P 187-200


MacCulloch, M.J., Snowden, P.R., Wood, P.J.W. & Mills, H.E. (1983) Sadistic Fantasy, Sadistic Behaviour and Offending, British Journal of Psychiatry 143, p20-29


Money, J. (1990) Forensic Sexology: Paraphilic Serial Rape (Biastophilia) and Lust Murder (Erotophonophilia). American Journal of Psychotherapy. Vol. XLIV (1) p26-36


Prentky, R.A., Burgess, A.W., Rokous, F. Lee, A. Hartman, C. Ressler, R. & Douglas, J. (1989) The Presumptive Role of Fantasy in Serial Sexual Homicide. American Journal of Psychiatry, 146:7 p887-891


**Promish, D.I. & Lester, D. (1999) Classifying Serial Killers. Forensic Science International, vol.105, p155-159.


Rappaport, R.G. (1988) The Serial and Mass Murderer: Patterns, Differentiation, Pathology. American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, Vol. 9(1) p39-48


Wertham, F. (1937) The Catathymic Crisis. Archives of Neurology & Psychiatry. Vol. 37, p974-978


Williamson, S, Hare, R.D. & Wong, S (1987) Violence: Criminal Psychopaths and their Victims. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science. Vol. 19 (4), p455-462


** = also available through

Erotomania and Stalking


Books and book chapters:



Boon, J.C.W. & Sheridan, L. (Eds) (2002) Stalking and Psychosexual Obsession. John Wiley & Sons


Enoch, M.D. & Trethowan, W. (1991) De Clérambault’s Syndrome, in “Uncommon Psychiatric Syndromes”, Oxford, Butterworth Heinemann. p.24-50


Meloy, J. R. (Ed) (1998) The Psychology of Stalking. London, Academic Press


Mullen, P.E, Pathé, M. & Purcell, R. (2000) Stalkers and their Victims. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.


Simon, R. I. (1996) Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream: A Forensic Psychiatrist Illuminates the Darker Side of Human Behaviour. (Chapter 3) Washington, American Psychiatric Press



Journal articles and book chapters:



Brenner, M. (1991) Erotomania. Vanity Fair. V54 (9) p86-93, 142-149


Emerson, R. M., Ferris, K.O. & Brooks Gardner, C. (1998) On Being Stalked. Social Problems, V45, p289-314 Lovett Doust, J.W.  & Christie, H. (1978) The Pathology of Love: Some Clinical Variants of De Clérambault’s Syndrome. Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 12 p.99-106


Meloy, J.R. (1999) Stalking an Old Behaviour, a New Crime. Psychiatric Clinics of North America 22, p85-99


Meloy, J.R. (1999) Erotomania, Triangulation, and Homicide. Journal of Forensic Sciences. V44, p421-424


Mullen, P.E. & Pathé, M., The Pathological Extensions of Love. British Journal of Psychiatry 1994, 165, p614-623


Mullen, P.E., Pathé, M., Purcell, R & Stuart, G.W. (1999) Study of Stalkers, American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, p.1244-1249


Mullen, P.E., Pathé, M., Purcell, R (2000) Stalking. The Psychologist. V13 ,9 p454-459


** Westrup, D. & Fremouw, W.J. (1998) Stalking Behaviour: A Literature Review and Suggested Functional analytic Assessment Technology. Aggression and Violent Behaviour Vol. 3(3) p 255-274


Wright, J.A., Burgess, A.G., Burgess, A.W., Laszlo, A.T., McCrary, G.O., & Douglas, J.E. (1996) A Typology of Interpersonal Stalking. Journal of Interpersonal Violence V11 (4) P487-502



** = also available through

The Stockholm Syndrome


Books and book chapters:


Frederick, C. J. (1987) Psychic Trauma in Victims of Crime and Terrorism. In Cataclysms, Crisis, and Catastrophes. Edited by Vandenbos, G & Bryant, B. P55-108. Washington, American Psychological Association


Graham, D.L.R., Rawlings, E.I. & Rigsby, R.K. (1994) Loving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men’s Violence and Woman’s Lives. New York & London, New York University Press.


McGuire, C. & Norton, C. (1990/1992) Perfect Victim. London, True Crime.


Scheflin, A.W. & Opton, E.M. (1978) The Mind Manipulators. (Patty Hearst, p63-85), London, Paddington Press



Journal articles:


Auerbach, S.M & Kieser, D.J (1994) Interpersonal Impacts and Adjustment to the Stress of Simulated Captivity: An Empirical Test of the Stockholm Syndrome. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Vol.13(2) P207-221


^^Fuselier, D. (1999) Placing the Stockholm Syndrome in Perspective. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin 68 (7) p22-25


Gachnochi, G. & Skurnik, N. (1992) The paradoxical effects of hostage-taking. International Social Science Journal. 44(2) p235-246


Hillman, R.G. (1981) The Psychopathology of Being Held Hostage. American Journal of Psychiatry. V138 (9) P1193-1197


Ochberg, F. (1978) The Victim of Terrorism: Psychiatric Considerations. Terrorism. V1 (2) p147-168


Pearn, J. (2000) Traumatic Stress Disorders: A Classification with Implications for Prevention and Management. Military Medicine. 165. P434-440


Strentz, T. (1980) The Stockholm Syndrome: Law Enforcement Policy and Ego Defences of the Hostage. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. V347 P137-150


Turner, J.T. (1985) Factors Influencing the Development of the Hostage Identification Syndrome. Political Psychology, Vol. 6(4) P705-711


Wesselius, C.L. & DeSarno, J.V. (1983) The Anatomy of a Hostage Situation. Behavioural Sciences and the Law. V1 (2) P33-45



Jury Decision Making


Books and book chapters:


Ainsworth, P.B (2000) Psychology and Crime: Myths and Realities. (Chapter 7) London, Longman


Brehm, S.S. & Kassin, S.M. (1996) Social Psychology. 3rd Edition. (Chapter 12) Boston, Houghton Mifflin.


Harrower, J (1998) Applying Psychology to Crime. (Chapter 7) London, Hodder & Stoughton


Hastie, R. (1993) Inside the Juror. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.


Howitt, D. (2002) Forensic & Criminal Psychology. (Chapters 18 & 19). London, Prentice Hall


Kapardis, A. (1999) Psychology and Law. Cambridge University Press.


Myers, D.G. (1994) Exploring Social Psychology. (module 20) New York, McGraw-Hill


Stephenson, G.M. (1992) The Psychology of Criminal Justice. (Chapter 10) Oxford, Blackwell


Wescott, H. & Davies, G. (2001). Children’s Testimony. Wiley.



Journal articles:


Dane, F.C. & Wrightsman, L.S. (1982) Effects of Defendants' and Victims' Characteristics on Jurors Verdicts. In The Psychology of the Courtroom. Edited by Kerr, N.L. & Bray, R.M.  p83-115. New York. Academic Press


**Gaines, D.M., Brown, D.C. & Doyle, J.K. (1996) A Computer Simulation Model of Juror Decision Making. Expert Systems With Applications. Vol. 11, p13-28


Holstein, J.A. (1985) Jurors' Interpretations and Jury Decision Making. Law and Human Behaviour. V9 (1) p83-100


Kaplan, M.F. (1977) Discussion Polarization Effects in a Modified Jury Decision Paradigm: Informational Influences. Sociometry. V40 (3) p262-271


Kerr, N.L. (1978) Beautiful and Blameless: Effects of Victim Attractiveness and Responsibility on Mock Jurors' Verdicts. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. V4 (3) p479-482


Macrae, C. N. , Milne, A. B. & Griffiths, R. J. (1993) Counterfactual Thinking and the perception of criminal behaviour. British Journal of Psychology 84, p221-226


Pennington, N. & Hastie, R. (1992) Explaining the Evidence: Tests of the Story Model for Juror Decision Making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. V62 (2) p189-206


Sigall, H. & Ostrove, N. (1975) Beautiful but Dangerous: Effects of Offender Attractiveness and Nature of the Crime on Juridic Judgement.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. V31 (3) p410-414


Spellman, B. A. & Kincannon, A. (2001) The Relation Between Counterfactual (“but for”) and Causal Reasoning: Experimental Findings and Implications of Jurors’ Decisions. Available online at:



** = also available through


^ ^ = also available online via infotrac (library resource)



Poster Assessment Exercise


(See section in this booklet on the Poster project for a reading list)




Seminar 1 – Forensic Linguistic Techniques for Authorship Identification



Learning outcomes for this seminar are: 



· to give you first hand knowledge of psycholinguistic techniques which have been used in authorship identification


· to illustrate how important it is for a technique to be tested and validated before it is used in the courts.


· to provide examples of these techniques in the context of case studies


·. to offer experience in the identification of style markers for the purposes of authorship identification.




In this seminar, we are going to examine two types of techniques which have been used for the purposes of authorship identification. The first method we will examine is called the Cumulative Sum technique and it was originally proposed by Morton and Michaelson (1990). The second method of authorship identification which we will examine in this seminar has come to be known as Forensic Stylistics. (McMenamin, 2002)


The Cusum Technique 




According to its authors, the Cumulative sum technique was capable of determining whether a piece of text was written by one, or more than one author.


Morton claimed that the Cusum Technique, as it became known, was capable of separating individuals by their writing styles with Forensic accuracy (Morton & Michaelson, 1990, Morton, 1991). The practical importance of this claim meant that during the early 1990’s Morton’s services were sought in many cases of legal disputed authorship, for example, in the case of Carl Bridgewater, and the appeal of the Birmingham Six. Later in the 1990’s however, this technique fell into disrepute, due to research that suggested that it was not measuring what it claimed to measure.




The Cusum technique requires plotting the cumulative sum of the differences between a series of observations, and the average of those observations. These “observations” may be any set of variables in the text. The basic measurement, to which all others are compared, is the number of words in each sentence, or sentence length. Morton uses sentence length, since he claims that this is the basic unit of language. Variables with which sentence length is compared include


· number of 2 or 3 letter words


· number of intial vowel words


· number of nouns


· number of verbs


· number of prepositions



Once the variable has been chosen, the Cusum Calculation is as follows:



1. Choose a block of sentences of a set length, (no less than 15 sentences).


2. Record the sentence length. or number of words in each sentence.(sl)


3. Find the average length of sentence for the block by dividing the total number of words, by the number of sentences


4. Subtract this average in turn from the number of words in each sentence.


5. Add these differences in succession to obtain the cusum values.(Last value should be 0)



These cusum values can then be plotted against sentence number and then the same procedure can be carried out for one of the “habit” variables chosen from the text, say 2 and 3 letter words.


Once the cusum plot has been obtained for the second variable, the y-axis of the second graph is adjusted so that it is comparable with the sentence length plot( by dividing the range of the sl graph by the range of the other variable, and multiplying the second variable by this number) The two graphs can then be superimposed. 



Claims made for the Cusum Technique


The cusum technique as a whole is therefore a comparison of two cusum plots of different variables.


Morton claimed then, that it is the constancy of the ration of sl to the other variable in an individual which will give the graphs a close fit. If on the other hand, the text is written by more than one person, who have ratios which differ from each other, the cusum plot will become distorted with the two curves separating. In the seminar, we will show you this, as applied to the case study of Derek Bentley.




Forensic Stylistics




Forensic Stylistics is the application of linguistic stylistics to the forensic context,(McMenamin 2002), the forensic context primarily being in the case of questioned authorship. By examining scientifically the patterns of variation, or style of written language, we can take advantage of the fact that no two writers of a language write in exactly the same way.



Typically, in cases of questioned authorship, there is a piece of writing which needs to be compared or contrasted with a known writing of one or more candidate authors. An analysis is carried out which examines the writing style of all available questioned or known writings, with three purposes in mind:

the determination of resemblance of questioned writings to a common canon of known writings

elimination or identification of one or more suspect authors

inconclusive with respect to the data that neither support elimination or identification





Form this description of Forensic Stylistics, it should now be obvious, that we have a prime candidate for the use of this type of technique, n the subject of your assessment, the Jack the Ripper letters.


The seminar will introduce you to the concept of Style Markers which could be applied to the Ripper letters.



A primary stylistic method which is applied in cases of questioned authorship, is the identification of style markers, which can take a number of different types of forms:



· Text format e.g. layout, spacing, margins


· Numbers and Symbols e.g. numerals instead of words


· Abbreviations e.g. with or without apostrophe, non-standard abbreviations


· Punctuation e.g. intrusive commas, spaces around full stop


· Capitalization e.g. absent in names or titles, capitals applied to a word


· Word Formation e.g. creation of new compound with hyphen


· Spelling e.g. alternate spelling choice


· Syntax e.g. rhetorical questions


· Errors or Corrections e.g. cross-outs


· Discourse e.g. distinctive text openings


· High Frequency words of phrases e.g. frequent use of closed couplets


(See McMenamin, 2002, Ch11, for full explanation)


The most important thing to note about the use of style markers for authorship identification is that unique markers are extremely rare, so authorship identification requires the identification of an aggregate of markers, each of which may be found in other writers, but all of which would unlikely be present together in any other writer.


Seminar procedure




During the first part seminar, you will be shown a worked example of a cusum analysis and you will be asked to make a judgment, as to whether it is a piece of text written by one, or more than one individual according to this technique We will also discuss the drawbacks of this method and think about some of the issues which have been raised in the literature which affect its validity.



The second half of the seminar will focus on a practical application of forensic stylistics. You will be given a list of style markers and asked to assess the range of stylistic variation in two pieces of text (assumed to be by Derek Bentley, which we used for the cusum analysis.) In this way, you should be familiar with some of the techniques used and be able to apply them to the Ripper Texts for your assessment.



Before the seminar, you must read some of the references pertaining to both the Cusum technique and Forensic Stylistics.



The main references for these are:


McMenamin, G. (2002). Forensic Linguistics: Advances in Forensic Stylistics. CRC Press. Especially Chapters 9, 10 and 11.



Morton and Michaelson (1990). The Qusum Plot . Internal report no. CSR-3-90, Department of Computing Science, University of Edinburgh.



Sanford, A.J., Aked, J.P., Moxey, L.M. and Mullin, J. (1994). A critical examination of assumptions underlying the cusum technique of forensic linguistics. Forensic Linguistic. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, Vol.1 (2), 150-167.




In addition, think about the following questions:



· What assumptions are made about the “habits” used in this technique, about an individual? (Think about individual differences – between and within subject)



· What problems arise when interpreting the cusum curve?



· According to Morton, the cusum technique can be used to examine speech or writing. What problems might arise when examining excerpts of speech?



· What other variables might affect how a piece of text is written?



· Is statistical analysis necessary to measure variation in written language?



Seminar 2- Psychological Profiling



Criminal personality profiling has been transformed over the last 30 or so years, from the fiction of detective novels to the fact of trained psychological profilers. 



Psychological profiling is a label given to the process by which a trained forensic psychologist sifts through all the aspects of the crime scene in order to develop a description of the personality of the perpetrator. It is an educated attempt to provide investigative agencies with specific information as to the type of individual who committed a certain crime. It is the behaviour of the perpetrator at the crime scene, rather than the offence per se, which determines the suitability of a case for profiling.



Profiling does not produce a name. What it does produce is a detailed personality profile of a perpetrator, which investigators can use to focus an investigation and pare down the list of suspects.



The aims of this seminar are as follows:



· to encourage you use your time profitably in the preparation week prior to this seminar, in order to become familiar with the process of criminal profiling.


· to use the information you have gleaned during your preparation week in order to profile a case for yourselves.


· to provide you with a deeper knowledge of the conceptual underpinnings of profiling.




During your Preparation week, you will have read papers that outline the type of information needed to compile a psychological profile. You should therefore be well versed in this type of information and be aware of what it can tell you about the perpetrator of a crime. Remember, once the information pertaining to the crime has been collected, (the WHAT), the profiler attempts to determine the WHY of the crime, that is, the motivation for each crime scene detail and for the crime itself. The basic premise of profiling is that if the WHAT and the WHY of the crime can be determined, then the WHO will follow. In this seminar, you will in a small way, attempt to solve a WHAT + WHY = WHO equation. 



Seminar procedure:


In groups of 3 or 4, you will be given out a case study to read carefully.



You will then be asked to cover the case study and individually (a) write down all the details which you feel are necessary and important to be used in writing a profile of the type of person which would commit such an act and (b) write down why you think these details are important. In other words, what these details tell you about the person who committed the crime.



In your group, compile a victimology. - including age, sex, race, physical description, marital status, intelligence, adjustment, life-style, recent changes in life style, personality style, residency (present and former), sexual adjustment, occupation(past and present), medical history, personal habits, hobbies, friends, enemies



In your group, you will then be asked to fill out a multiple choice question sheet consisting of questions about the suspect. These questions will relate to the suspects age, gender, race, occupation etc.

Finally, within your group, you will be asked to compile a profile of the suspect, and this will be compared, along with your multiple choice questionnaire, to the characteristics of the known suspect.




In order for this procedure to work, and for you to gain any insight into the process of profiling it is imperative that you steep yourself in the literature on profiling in the learning week prior this seminar.

Multiple choice questionnaire




Is the suspect male or female? _________________



Is the suspect married or single? _________________



What age range is the suspect in? 20-30_____30-40_____40-50_____50-60______



What is the race of the suspect? ____________________________________________________



What is the educational background of the suspect? _______________________________



What is the suspect’s intelligence? Below Average? __Average? __Above Average? __



Where does the suspect live? ________________________________________________________



Is there evidence of a psychosexual element to the crime? Yes/No___________________



What is the victim-offender relationship? _________________________________________



Who is the intended victim of the crime? __________________________________________



Is it likely that the offender has committed similar crimes in the past? Yes/No____



If yes, is there a specific Modus Operandi for the crime? ___________________________



Was the crime premeditated or spontaneous? ______________________________________



Is it likely that the offender will commit similar crimes in the future? Yes/No____



What is the likely motive for the crime? ____________________________________________



Who do you think committed the crime? ____________________________________________





FACES Seminars:



The aim of these semiar/practicals is to introduce some aspects of the psychology of eyewitness testimony and to provide an opportunity for you  to learn how to operate and work with the FACES 3.0 software, which is available on all the computers in labs F333 & F337. 




You will all have seen at sometime an image of a suspect in a police investigation, produced in newspapers or TV programmes. There are a number of different ways that these images can be produced, ranging from an artists impression, to line drawings up to photographic constructions. There are numerous versions of these face production kits e.g.  Photofit, Identikit, Efit and FACES. This technique was an attempt to move away from an artists impression (described by a witness or victim) towards a more empirical construction of images of the human face. Originally these techniques used selections of pieces of card which slotted together to produce a face. With the advent of computer technology this process can now be produced much more quickly and more realistically (no noticeable gaps between cards) than before. There are a number of these electronic face construction programs in use by police forces around the world. FACES is one such program, although it is predominantly used by North American police forces at the present time.) Within Forensic psychology there has been an ongoing program of research into the production and use of these techniques from the 1970’s onward and remains an important aspect of eyewitness testimony research within the area of cognitive psychology in general.



In the first seminar is designed to introduce you to the software. The actual class will consist of:

A brief demonstration of how to use the FACES program

Hands-on experience in constructing a face (of someone you know well)

“Homework” – You will each be given the name of a well known individual. Your task is to use the FACES program to produce a facial picture of that person (without looking at a photograph), and submit your work (FACES has a alphanumeric code which can be cut and pasted into an e-mail) to David Main ( by the Monday of the following week. This information is needed for the second seminar on FACES.




Running the FACES program:


From the Windows Start menu find the InterQuest folder (it may be in within the programs folder). When this is selected the FACES program icon will appear, click on this to start the program. You will be presented with a blank white window on the left of the screen. It is usually advised to start with the Eyes of the subject you are trying to create, so click on the Eyes icon in the middle of the screen. A set of eyes will now be visible in the right hand window. You can navigate through the different eyes either screen by screen, by using the arrows beneath the right hand window, or you can use the general types of eyes menu by clicking on the small arrow located at the top right of the features (right hand) window. Find a rough approximation of the eyes you want and click on them. You will now see the eyes you selected appear in the left hand window. Notice the two sets of arrows beneath the trashcan icon in the centre of the screen, these can be used to widen or narrow the space between the eyes. Try moving them about. Note that each facial feature may have different options available for movement. E.g. noses can be moved up or down the face and resized (made smaller or bigger). If you are not happy with the eyes you have chosen simply click on another set of eyes and they will be replaced by your new selection. You can undo anything you have done in your composition, so don’t be afraid to experiment with a few different possibilities as your face starts to take shape. Once you have the eyes you want try finding an upper head for your face using the same techniques. Then go on to put in a lower jaw, nose and mouth. This will give you a basic face. Next put in some eyebrows and then proceed to give your face some “character” by inserting facial lines, and shadows before finally putting some hair on to your creation. (NB there is less choice in hair style than the other features and this is a slight weakness of this version of the software – Police versions have more options). If you wish to remove a feature completely, e.g. if you have put a pair of glasses on your face that you now want to remove, then just click on the icon for Glasses so that it is highlighted, then click on the Trashcan and the glasses will disappear.


Don’t be disheartened if you initially can not get the face you are trying for, this is a skill that needs practice, so just keep trying and it will eventually start to come together.



Handing in work for the following week’s seminar:



Give yourself 30-40 minutes to get to grips with the workings of the FACES program and produce the face suggested at the start of the class. When you have accomplished this, either Joy or myself will give you a small slip of paper which contains the name of well known person. For the purposes of this practical this could include, actors/actresses, singers, politicians, TV personalities or people who have been in the news over the last few weeks. It is very important that you don’t tell or let anyone else in the class see the name of the person you have been given. Your task is to use FACES to produce an image of the named person and save the image to file. Save your work, and copy the FACES InterCode (27 letter and number characters) for the face you have constructed into an e-mail.



You have until Noon on following Monday to complete the image and then e-mail me with a message giving the following details:

Your name,

The name of the person who’s face you have tried to draw

The 27 character FACES InterCode for the face. (Ensure you have the full code)




You should try to draw the image from memory only (that is what eyewitnesses and crime victims have to do). If you have to give up on this and look at a picture of the named person then be strict with yourself and only allow yourself a maximum of 2 minutes viewing time. 



After midday on the following Monday, I will use the InterCodes to reconstruct the faces you created and then compile a Powerpoint file which contains all the faces you have submitted. I will supply a number to each of the received images.


I will then post this file on the Forensic Psychology Blackboard site.



Make sure you log onto the blackboard site to view the Powerpoint file well before the second FACES seminar. On a piece of paper, try to identify the famous people your classmates have drawn (at least you should recognise your own effort!) Note down the name of the person you think it might be beside the images identifying number. Bring this piece of paper with you to the second FACES seminar.



Aside from looking at the “artwork” you have produced the second seminar will consider the serious issues of face recognition relating to Forensic Psychology and Eyewitness Testimony.  E.g. try to appreciate how a witness who got a fleeting glance at a suspect might feel when asked by the police to reconstruct a face using a package such as FACES.  There are a number of papers on this area listed below, which you should read to get a grasp on the ideas and problems involved in designing, understanding and using composite face production packages. 



The actual practical should be quite an enjoyable experience, and for third year students it may offer some possible ideas for dissertation projects. Remember that the FACES software could be used in a variety of projects both within and out-with Forensic Psychology. For example, A project on person perception where you construct one face then systematically vary it by e.g. changing the hairstyle, adding lines, moving the eyes further apart or the raising/lowering the brow of the face and then get subjects to rate the resulting faces on attractiveness, trustworthiness etc. A similar technique could be used on a project on the effect of attractiveness on Jury decision making or sentencing by varying a face and attaching a print out of it to scenarios of court cases.



Lab availability:


In order to complete the task for the second FACES seminar you will have to use the FACES software. This package is only available on the machines in Labs F333 & F337. Check the Timetables outside the lab doors to see when the labs are not being used for classes and work on your project in the numerous free slots between booked classes.



If the rooms are locked see the Alec the technician who is based in the room adjoining F337, and he will unlock them for you.





There are many Forensic texts which consider the wide field of eyewitness testimony. Some of these texts provide useful information on face recognition research. See for example:


Wells, G. & Loftus, E.  (Eds.) (1984) - Eyewitness Testimony: Psychological Perspectives. Cambridge University Press.


Some useful Journal articles:


Christie, D & Ellis, H. (1981) Photofit Constructions Versus Verbal Descriptions of Faces. Journal of Applied Psychology, 66, p358-363


Clifford, B., R. & Hollin, C., R. (1981) Effects of the Type of Incident and the Number of Perpetrators on Eyewitness Memory. Journal of Applied Psychology, 66, p364-370


Davies, G. Ellis, H. & Shepherd, J. (1978) Face Recognition Accuracy as a Function of mode of Representation. Journal of Applied Psychology 63 180-87


*Davies, G. van der Willik, P. & Morrison, L. (2000) Facial Composite Production: Journal of Applied Psychology, 85 (1) p119-124


Ellis, H., Shepherd, J., & Davies, G. (1975) An Investigation of the use of the Photofit Technique for Recalling Faces. British Journal of Psychology 66, p29-37


*Ellis, H (1986) Face Recall: A Psychological Perspective. Human Learning, 5, p189-96


*Ellis, H. Davies, G. & Shepherd, J. (1978) A Critical Examination of the Photofit System. Ergonomics. 21. p297-307


Laughery, K. & Fowler, R. (1980) Sketch Artist and Identi-kit Procedures for Recalling Faces. Journal of Applied Psychology. 65, 307-316


McCloskey, M & Egeth, H. (1983) Eyewitness Identification: What can a Psychologist Tell a Jury. American Psychologist, 38, 550-63


Shapiro, P. and Penrod, S. (1986) Meta-analysis of Facial Identification Studies. Psychological Bulletin. 100, 139-56


* = In STL


Generally information on Face recognition can be found in many Perception texts, see for example some of the links between Photofit work and Face Recognition in:


Rakover, S. (2001) – Face Recognition : Cognitive and Computational Processes. John Benjamins.

POSTER PROJECT: Assessed Classwork



Information on the production of a POSTER based on a forensic linguistic investigation into letters supposedly written by “Jack the Ripper”. 



The production of this poster is the assessed piece of coursework for Forensic Psychology. 



Seminar on how to produce a poster: Week 2


Hand in date for the hypothesis you wish to test: Week 5


Hand-in date for your poster: Friday of Week 9











Introduction to the concept of posters

The problem of hoax letters

The Whitechapel murders

Letters from the murderer?

Possible ways to approach your investigation

Possible Forensic Linguistic methods to use

Reading list




Introduction to the concept of posters



You will all have had experience of writing essays and practical reports. However, producing a poster is something that most of you will have not encountered before. In academia, the dissemination of information to fellow professionals is usually undertaken by a few basic methods. For example, research findings can be presented by writing a paper for an academic journal (similar to writing a practical report), or longer and more general information may be produced in the form of a textbook (Some similarity to essays and dissertations). Alternatively, research findings are presented at an academic conference. Conference papers (similar to lectures/seminars) are given verbally and are usually focused on the author’s current research work. Conferences also afford the opportunity for researchers to visually present their research findings using a poster. A poster is typically a standard size piece of board which are either hung or placed upon stands in the corridors or rooms where a conference is taking place. These poster boards are used by researchers to provide a brief summation of the salient points of their research. The elements that comprise a poster commonly would look very much like the sections of a practical report, i.e. a title, introduction, hypothesis, methods, results, discussion and conclusion. Conference poster sessions are usually held in the corridors surrounding conference lecture rooms and there are typically a large number of posters being displayed at the same time and location. As the object of the poster is to provoke interest and comment from those who are attending the conference, posters have two major aspects to them. Firstly they must present the information clearly and briefly enough for viewers to be able to “read” them quickly and understand what the research is about and what the findings are. Secondly, the poster must be “attractive” enough to attract the initial interest of people who are browsing among many competing posters. In this way a poster is similar to the function of an advertising billboard. Peoples attention must be caught for long enough to entice them to read the information on the product being advertised. In essence then, the poster can be considered as a highly summarised practical report, which must be carefully presented on a board in a manner that looks attractive and interesting. Obviously, these two facets of the poster have to be balanced. A poster that is crammed with text and information rarely looks attractive, while equally a poster which may be well presented is nothing if it does not contain good information.



Further information on producing posters will be given in the Poster seminar.




The problem of hoax letters



High profile criminal cases, particularly those involving serial offences where the perpetrator(s) is unknown often create a lot of media coverage and public interest. Aside from attempting to investigate the actual crime, the police also have to deal with information passed on from the public. Sometimes this is in the form of useful information from someone who has witnessed something or perhaps has some important knowledge about the crime or the criminal. However, there are also those who send in hoax letters claiming to be the perpetrator, or to implicate a named person as the guilty party. All this correspondence has to be examined and the useful information sifted from the hoaxes. This can prove to be an enormous strain on police resources as facts have to be checked up upon and leads followed up. If a false or hoax letter is mistakenly believed to be valid, the whole direction of a police investigation can be changed with tragic consequences. An excellent example of this occurred in the case of the Yorkshire Ripper in 1978 when two letters posted in Sunderland were sent to the police. In 1979, a third letter in the same handwriting contained what police (erroneously) thought was information that could only have come directly from a recent victim of the killer. When a hoax tape, supposedly made by the killer and posted in Sunderland arrived three months later, it was believed genuine by the police. This resulted in the police search being shifted to look for a man with a Geordie accent, and non-Geordie’s being given less scrutiny from the inquiry, thus leaving the real killer, Peter Sutcliffe, free from suspicion and able to kill a further three victims before being caught.


More recently the sending of letters and packages contaminated with Anthrax (see e.g. for a forensic linguistic analysis) have also been accompanied by a host of hoax letters claiming to contain anthrax. Examining and testing these letters obviously slows down the search for the real culprit(s) and was of serious concern to those investigating the actual Anthrax letters.


What kind of person is likely to send hoax letters and why they do it, is obviously a potentially interesting and useful area of research for forensic psychology. However, for the purpose of this project we will concern ourselves with using forensic linguistic techniques to examine some of the letters concerning the Whitechapel murders. For instance, were some of the letters written by the same person? Do any of the letters that are known to have been written by suspects in the case have anything in common with any of the “Jack the Ripper” letters available to the police?






The Whitechapel murders


There is an enormous amount of literature on the Whitechapel murders. Much of it is unfortunately, highly speculative or even misleading. Who actually committed the murders has never been (and probably never will be) satisfactorily solved. There are almost as many theories of the perpetrator’s identity as there are theorists, and even now, well over a century after the events, there are still many new books both “scholarly” and fictional on the subject published every year. What we do know is that five prostitutes died between 30th August 1888 and 9th September 1888.1 The murders all occurred on weekends (Fri-Sun) or public holidays between midnight and 6am. All murder locations were within 1 square mile of central London. The woman all lived close to each other, but there is no evidence that they knew each other. Although all the woman were killed relatively quickly, the post-mortem mutilations generally showed increasing savagery with each victim.  








Time (approx)




Mary Nichols




Fri 31st Aug 3:30 am


Buck’s row


Annie Chapman




Sat 8th Sep. 4:30 – 5:30 am


Yard of 29 Hanbury street


Liz Stride




29th Sep 12:46 – 56 pm


Brener street


Catherine Eddows




30th sep 1:45 am


Mitre Square


Mary Jane Kelly




9th Nov. 1-2 am


Miller’s court




Who Jack the Ripper was? Why did he kill these women? Why did he mutilate the corpses? Had he killed others before or after the Whitechapel murders? Why did the killings suddenly stop? These are all questions which remain unanswered. Students should try to read at least one of books on the case (see reading list) to familiarise themselves with the chronology and important points of the case. 



Letters from the murderer?



During both the period when the Whitechapel murders occurred and for some years afterwards, the police, the press and certain individuals associated with the investigation received numerous letters purporting to be written by the murderer. Indeed the title “Jack the Ripper” was taken from one of those early letters. The amount of letters that were sent certainly runs into the hundreds (many of which can be found in “Letters from Hell” book in the short term loan section of the library). 



Author and journalist, Donald McCormick, is one of a large number of people who have written about the Ripper case (The Identity of Jack the Ripper. 1959). Although much of his source material is suspect, he did pose three pertinent questions about the Ripper letters:

Was Jack the letter-writer the East End Killer?

Was he a practical Joker?

Does his correspondence provide a clue as to his identity?




Even a cursory glance at some of the  Ripper” letters show that they are unlikely to have been written by the genuine killer. However, one or more may have been sent by the actual killer. Current thinking would suggest that many of the early letters were hoaxes. Even the two most famous Ripper letters, which are the first letter signed “Jack the Ripper” (NB this was not the first letter claiming to be from the killer), and the “Saucy Jack” postcard were probably written by an unscrupulous journalist. A favoured contender for a letter actually written by the killer is the “From Hell” or “Lusk” letter that was sent along with a piece of human kidney, supposedly taken from one of the victims. 



The increased probability of hoax letters that have confusing similarities to earlier letters, occurs because the police at one point in the investigation made poster sized facsimiles of the first “Jack the Ripper” letter and the “Saucy Jack” postcard. These were displayed publicly in an attempt to find anyone who recognised the handwriting. Unfortunately, this gave future hoax writers complete copies of letters which they believed the police considered to have had been written by the murderer. Thus, later letters often used similar styles to these publicly known letters or incorporated terms of address such as “Dear boss” and signed off with the infamous signature of “Jack the Ripper”. As the posters used actual facsimiles, rather than transcriptions there was also the likelihood of some hoaxers attempting to copy the original handwriting. 



In nearly all the letters an analysis of the content shows that the writer has not presented any evidence of knowledge of the crime scene or murders that had not previously been available in the public press. Most either reiterate these known “facts” or make vague claims about future atrocities. Even those letters which potentially might be pertinent can be considered as either coincidental, the product of a lucky guess, or fitting the facts only by stretching the imagination.


Possible ways to approach your investigation




The first thing you need to do is read up on the subject. Make use of the available literature on the Jack the Ripper case (even your local public library may have some sources) and then focus on the letters ascribed to him. Having thought about the case, you need to think of a particular hypothesis that you can test. There is no point in just randomly comparing a few of the letters. Which letters might conceivably have been written by the same person? Do any of the Ripper letters show similarities with letters accredited to potential suspects in the case? Etc. Whatever you choose to investigate, you need to be able to justify why you chose the particular items you have examined. You should also consider the depth of your poster’s focus. Are you attempting to look at a particular aspect of the Whitechapel murders? Alternatively, are you going to try to show some more general point about for instance, investigating hoax letters, or the potential value of Forensic Linguistics to this aspect of police investigations? Whichever format you choose will make an impact on the way that you write your poster (particularly in the introduction, discussion and conclusion).



Plan your poster carefully. You only have limited space on a poster and you do not want to fill it completely with text. This does not mean that you need to do less work! It does however require you to be able to effectively summarise your information. Make use of diagrams, tables and graphs to reduce or break up large blocks of text, while retaining a format that is easily read and comprehended. When your poster is near completion, you might want to try showing it to someone unconnected with the Forensic Psychology course. If they can follow the point or argument you present in the poster and understand your findings, then you are probably on the right track. If they find it confusing or difficult to follow, then find out where the problem is and rewrite or organise the poster accordingly.



Note that certain aspects of the individual “Ripper” letters need to be considered. For instance, there may have been a deliberate attempt by the writer to disguise their handwriting, or to write in a style that would indicate that the writer was for example illiterate or of a particular nationality. Certain forensic linguistic techniques such as Cusum, theoretically should not be effected by such devices but are problematic with many of Ripper letters due to either the brevity of the communications or by the lack of clear punctuation. If you use any technique that is dependent upon punctuation, and a particular letter you are examining lacks proper or full punctuation, then you may have to insert your own punctuation. (Or ask a panel of five or so people to try and punctuate it and use the most agreed upon punctuation) If you do this, you will need to note and justify this in your poster and possibly attempt an analysis using an alternative technique or using the same letter but with a different potential punctuation


Although there are transcriptions of most of the letters in the “letters from Hell” book, you should try to work with originals whenever possible. There are a number of reasons for this. 1) It lets you see how difficult it is to work with primary source material, e.g. deciphering some of the actual handwriting. 2) The lack of punctuation, spelling errors, changes and deletions as well as additional drawings or doodles in many letters becomes obvious 3) Relying on other people to transcribe the data can lead to errors. For example in one famous Ripper letter (25th July 1889) begins; “Dear Boss You have not caught me yet you see, with all your cunning, with all your “Lees” with all your blue bottles.” The line seems to refer to the police using “Lees” (Robert Lees was a contemporary psychic who is often cited in Ripper literature as being involved in the case). A more careful examination reveals the word “Lees” is actually the word “tecs”. This misinterpretation has been used and cited in many subsequent works on the Ripper case, with as you might imagine, confusing consequences.  





The letters you choose to analyse must have some logical reason for a comparison to be made. (I.e. you need to submit a viable hypothesis.)

Your poster needs to find a good balance between content and presentation.

Your poster should NOT attempt to simply write a “history” of the Ripper case.

The poster content needs to be driven by the data you have analysed.

The Ripper case is still unsolved after over 100 years. DON’T aim to produce a project that will finally solve the Whitechapel murders.

Make full use of the collection of Ripper letters available in Evans & Skinner (2001) “Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell” book, or from any other sources you can find.

DON’T draw wild conclusions that claim to have PROVED anything. At best you might find that some texts may potentially have had a single authorship.

Forensic Linguistic Analysis of Jack the Ripper Letters – Possible methods

There are many forensic linguistic techniques that have been researched and developed over the years, including the use of Corpus linguistics, Readability Indices and Statistical techniques such as the use of Cluster analysis and Factor Analysis. Many of these require a long text in order to be reliable and valid, as well as particular tools and skills to carry them out. In your analysis of the supposed Jack the Ripper letters, a feature of these texts, like so many other criminal texts, is that they are often very short, so techniques have had to be developed that take this into account. In addition your analysis should use techniques that do not require any specific equipment or software.

Possible Method 1: Stylometry


Stylometry, also known as statistical stylistics, is the most frequent and simple type of psycholinguistic analysis used in the UK and it relies on objective facts, such as the rate or frequency of occurrence of some feature of the English language, in order to compare texts. In can be use in inter-document and intra-document analysis and therefore is appropriate for use with the Ripper Letters.


Under the heading of stylometry, you should try one or more of following. (The depth and detail of your analysis will determine whether you use all of these techniques, or focus on one).


Analysis of Open vs. Closed Class words (Subject matter words  vs Function words)


This would involve a classification of the words used in the letters you choose as either open of closed class.( this can be difficult as some words can be unspecific to each class)  followed by a comparison of the incidence of these between letters.


Comparison of lexical Vocabulary by Frequency


This would involve counting the top 10 most frequent words in each text and looking at their concordance in the texts being compared.


Selective Analysis of Vocabulary

Lexical items in common


This would involve a set of comparisons of lexical items within the texts e.g.


Lexical items in common between texts 1,2 and 3


Lexical items in common between texts 1 and 2


Lexical items in common between texts 1 and 3


Lexical items in common between texts 2 and 3



( A lexical item is the smallest contrastive unit in a semantic system e.g. walked, walks, walking are all lexical items of the verb to walk. However the idiom “kick the bucket”, could also be seen as a lexical item


cy the above definition)


Unique words


This would involve identifying unique or unusual words which seem to occur in a number of the texts being used for comparison.


Errors/ Repetitions/ Unusual word order


This would involve identifying the above features occurring in a number of the texts being used for comparison.


Analysis of Type Token Ratio (TTR)


This would involve calculating the type token ratio (calculated as a decimal, the number of different words used with the total word count) for each text. Remember this has been shown to be particularly sensitive to the effects of anxiety.

Possible Method 2:  Cusum Analysis


You should be fairly familiar with the procedure required for Cusum analysis due to the seminar devoted to that topic.


For more detail, refer to Morton and Michaelson (1990), The Qsum plot, which can be found in the Short Loan article bank.


REMEMBER: To perform a valid Cusum, you need your data (letters) to have a decent length of text containing plenty of sentences. Texts such as the “Saucy Jack” postcard (and many other short Ripper letters) are simply not analysable by Cusum.

Possible Method 3: Analysis of Handwriting


This should be used in conjunction with one or more of the techniques outlined above.



In general, the task you are required to do for your Poster is to produce some coherent data on the Jack the Ripper Letters using Forensic Linguistic techniques such as those above or other types of analysis which detailed in texts on Forensic linguistics. It is to your advantage to engage in the material and look into the techniques in detail. Any advice required on the techniques should be directed to Joy and on methodology/statistics should be directed to David. You never know, you might discover something about the authorship of the Jack the Ripper Letters that no one else has noticed before!






(Adapted from McMenamin, 2002)



1. Get Organized


Arrange and organize the letters you have chosen to use into manageable sets using some sort of logical basis e.g. chronological order, handwritten, typed, personal letter, diary entry etc.


2. State the Problem


Articulate the problem as you see it, by identifying your hypotheses and the research questions for descriptive and quantitative analysis. (NB This is the step which you will have to hand in for marking in week 5)


3. Procedural steps


Assess the range of stylistic variables in each of your questioned writings. Identify style markers and deviations from or variations within any appropriate norm. Note single occurrences of variation as well as habitual variation. Identify whether there is a need for a concordance. (See McMenamin)


4. Specify Descriptive Results


Specify individual style markers at all linguistic levels, separating out those which are a class, and those which are individual.



5. Specify Quantitative Results


Give results of statistical tests used to evaluate significance of variables. Estimate the probability of occurrence of variables in compared writings. Apply any other appropriate qualitative approaches to style marker identification.



6. Specify exclusion conclusion


Identify dissimilarities between the style-markers of questioned and known writings. Determine linguistic or statistical significance of dissimilarities and to what degree the candidate writer can be excluded.



7. Specify identification conclusion


Identify similarities between the style markers of questioned and known writings. Determine linguistic or statistical significance of similarities and to what degree the candidate writer can be excluded.



8. State opinion


State whether investigation can exclude or identify candidate, or is inconclusive, i.e. state whether hypotheses can be accepted or rejected.

Reading list




The main source for the poster preparation is:


Evans, S. P. & Skinner, K. (2001) Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell. Sutton Publishers


This book contains many reproductions and transcriptions of the best known letters claiming to be from the killer, as well as over 100 transcriptions of other “Ripper” letters that were sent to the police, newspapers etc.



General sources on Jack the Ripper:


Evans & Skinner have a companion piece to their book about the Ripper letters. This book provides more general information on the case. Sugden’s book is considered to be the definitive examination of the Whitechapel killings, and contains a useful short chapter on the “Letters from Hell”. Jakubowski & Braund provide around 100 pages of the “facts” of the case before allowing a variety of writers a chapter each to put forward their views or theories about Jack the Ripper.


Evans, S. P. & Skinner, K. (2000) Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook. Constable Robinson


Jakubowski, M. & Braund, N. (Eds.) (1999) Mammoth book of Jack the Ripper. Constable Robinson


Rubinstein, W.D. (2000) The Hunt for Jack the Ripper. History Today. May, V50(5)


Sugden, P. (2002) The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. Constable  Robinson




Mention of “Jack the Ripper” is to be found on many web-sites. However, the most comprehensive site appears to be:




Previous examination of “Ripper letters”:


The following three papers show some previous examination of handwriting analysis on some of the Ripper letters. Although interesting, there are certainly methodological flaws in these investigations. At present I have not found any papers that have used other Forensic Linguistic techniques on the Ripper letters.


Davis, D. (1974) ‘Jack the Ripper’ The Handwriting Analysis. The Criminologist Vol.9 (33) p62-69


Macleod, C. M. (1968) A ‘Ripper’ Handwriting Analysis. The Criminologist. No. 9. P120-127


Mann, T. J. (1975) The Ripper and the Poet: A Comparison of Handwritings. The WADE Journal (Chicago) Vol.2(1) p1-31 (not  presently available in the library)

The “Ripper diary”


The controversial discovery of the supposed “Diary of Jack the Ripper” in the 1990’s is probably a modern or more likely, an Edwardian forgery. It is dismissed as such by most writers on the Ripper case.


In terms of Forensic linguistics it may still be of interest to some students for inclusion in your project. For example in chapter 17 of Feldman’s book he tries to tie in a number of the “Jack the Ripper letters” with the “Ripper Diary” to show its authenticity. This assertion could be examined by forensic linguistic techniques. I.e. testing the letters he cites, against each other (are they by the same hand) and against the diary. (Did the person who wrote the diary also write any of the letters). The entire text of the diary is reproduced (albeit in rather a small size) in Harrison’s book.

Books on the “Ripper diary”


Feldman, P. H. (2002) Jack the Ripper: The Final Chapter. Virgin Books


Harrison S, (1998) The Diary of Jack the Ripper. Blake


There is also a chapter by Harrison in Jakubowski & Braund’s book.



The following web link provides some photographs of the handwriting in the diary, including the signature. With some image manipulation there may be enough material to analyse.



The web link below includes a brief transcription of part of the “Ripper diary”



Web site for Francis Thompson letters:


Mr Richard Patterson, a "Ripperologist" from Australia who heard about our poster project, has kindly added some letters written by Francis Thompson to his Ripper web-site. Thompson was a poet who Patterson believes to have been Jack the Ripper.  Although considered as an unlikely suspect by most of the Ripper books, the letters do provide information for the comparison of one suspect’s acknowledged letters, with the Ripper letters. (If you are intending to compare Ripper letters, with that of other, more cited suspects. Then this is the type of information you should be seeking for the suspect you are interested in).

The Thompson letters can be found at the following web address, and access to the rest of Mr Patterson's pages on this suspect can be gained from here.

Forensic Linguistic Techniques


Make use of the following sources to help you to analyse the data (letters). Use appropriate tests for the material you intend to use. Analysis of ANY data should be planned beforehand. I.e. don’t just pick a test at random, or pick one test simply because it “seemed easier to do”! 



Crystal, D. (1987). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. Esp. Chapters 12 and 15. Cambridge University Press.


Ellis, S. (1994). The Yorkshire Ripper enquiry: Parts 1 and 2. Forensic Linguistics. International Journal of Speech, Language and theLaw. Vol 1:2, 197-216. Routledge.


Found, B. Dick, D. & Rogers, D. (1994). The structure of forensic handwriting and signature comparisons. Forensic Linguistics. International Journal of Speech, Language and theLaw. Vol 1:2, 183-196. Routledge.


Gudjonsson, G.H. & Haward, L.R.C. (1999). Forensic Psychology. Chapter 7. Routledge, London.


McMenamin, G., R. (2002) Forensic Linguistics: Advances in forensic stylistics. Boca Raton, Fla.; London


Morris, R. (2000) Forensic Handwriting Identification: Fundamental concepts and principals. - San Diego, Calif.; London: Academic


Morton A.Q. & Michaelson, S. (1990). The Q-sum plot. University of Edinburgh, Computing Science Department, Internal report no. CSR-3-90.


Nickell, J (1996) Detecting Forgery: Forensic Investigation of Documents. University Press of Kentucky


Winter, E (1996) The Statistics of Analyzing Very Short Texts in a Criminal Context. In. Recent Developments in Forensic Linguistics, p141 - 179. (Ed) Kniffka, H

NB - When you hand in your Poster ensure that:



All material is securely stuck on

Your name is on it (front)

It has a Title (front)

A reference list is provided (stick this on the back of the poster.)