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Scripting the Truth

  • Posted 01.24.13
  • NOVA

An innovative computer-based handwriting analysis technique helps NOVA dig deeper into the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s baby. But while the results might sway investigators in a certain direction, they certainly aren’t definitive.

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Launch Video Running Time: 01:57

Transcript

Who Killed Lindbergh's Baby

PBS Airdate: January 30, 2013

SARGUR SRIHARI (University of Buffalo): A computer can do a lot more than a document examiner can do.

NARRATOR: Srihari's pattern-recognition software can isolate words and letters from multiple documents and compare them by precisely measuring their slope, height, width and contour.

SARGUR SRIHARI: And we are to do that for every letter of the English alphabet.

NARRATOR: Srihari analyzed Hauptmann's writing first, taking the Begg letters and comparing them to six of the ransom notes.

SARGUR SRIHARI: The results of comparison of the ransom notes and Hauptmann writing are shown here at the individual letter-pair level and, as well as, individual character level.

NARRATOR: Each comparison gets a score. Positive values indicate a higher probability the writing is from the same person; negative values, a lower probability.

SARGUR SRIHARI: For instance, the letter, the letter pair AM or A-M has a fairly high negative score, indicating that they don't seem to be written by the same individual. There are some positives, as well. So, what matters is the sum total of all of these things. And that total turns out to be negative, indicating that it is unlikely that Hauptmann wrote the ransom notes.

NARRATOR: If Srihari is correct, then Hauptmann did have a co-conspirator who wrote the notes. And could it be John Knoll?

Credits

PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY
Larry Klein
WRITTEN BY
Mark Olshaker & Larry Klein
CO-PRODUCER
Mark Olshaker
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
Sara Crosby
EDITED BY
Sam Green
CAMERA
Gary Henoch
SOUND RECORDIST
Dave Manahan
LIGHTING
Ken Perham
ART DIRECTION
Katha Seidman
ANIMATION
Doug Quade
NARRATED BY
Jay O. Sanders
AUDIO MIX
Heart Punch Studio, Inc.
MUSIC
APM Music LLC
COLORIST
Dave Markun
PRODUCTION ASSOCIATE
Will Toubman
PRODUCTION INTERN
Sean Bohan
ARCHIVAL MATERIAL
Getty Images
Historic Films
ITN Source
Library of Congress
"Lindbergh: Eagle of the USA" recording - David Giovannoni
Museum of Science, Boston
National Archives
National Museum of Health and Medicine
New Jersey State Police Museum
Pan Am Historical Foundation
The Record (Bergen County, NJ)
Spiegel TV
WETA TV, Washington
UCLA Film and Television Archive
University of South Carolina Moving Image Research Collections
SPECIAL THANKS
Albert Elias Rehab Group, Antar Simmons
Greg Ball
Mark Falzini
First Church and Parish, Dedham, MA
Flemington, New Jersey Township Council
Hunterton County Historic Courthouse
Kevin Klein and Jeanne Fulton
Glenn Langenburg
New Jersey Office of the Attorney General
Orville Tillet
Woodlawn Cemetery
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yU + co.
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Walter Werzowa
John Luker
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ADDITIONAL NOVA THEME MUSIC
Ray Loring
Rob Morsberger
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Spencer Gentry
CLOSED CAPTIONING
The Caption Center
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Karen Laverty
PUBLICITY
Eileen Campion
Victoria Louie
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Kate Becker
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Linda Callahan
PARALEGAL
Sarah Erlandson
TALENT RELATIONS
Scott Kardel, Esq. Janice Flood
LEGAL COUNSEL
Susan Rosen
DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION
Rachel Connolly
DIGITAL PROJECTS MANAGER
Kristine Allington
SENIOR DIGITAL EDITOR
Tim De Chant
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Lauren Aguirre
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Stephanie Mills
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Alan Ritsko
SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Paula S. Apsell

A NOVA production by Lawrence Klein Productions, LLC for WGBH

© 2013 WGBH Educational Foundation
All rights reserved

Image

(letter handwriting)
© Franck-Boston/iStock

Participants

Sargur Srihari
University of Buffalo

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