Picture the classic horror movie scene: the jaded cops bust into the serial killer's lair and find a veritable treasure trove of mad scribblings justifying a maniac's murderous work. Doesn't the handwriting of serial killers seem to express something of the madness within?
Police departments and hostage negotiators use graphology - the study of handwriting - to deduce what kind of killer they're dealing with. This is reflected in movies and shows about crime and killers. Take the following clip from Criminal Minds, for example...
In the clip, Spencer Reed talks about Graphology, stating:
"Emotional indicators are analyzed through slants. The shooter maintains vertical, narrow-lettered writing, both signs of repression. The pressure, if you look closely, is excessively heavy, which shows that he's uptight and can easily overreact. Graphology's an effective and reliable indicator of personal behavior
It symbolizes your emotions at that given time, just the way your facial expressions parallel your feelings while you speak. His connected writing means that he deals with his problems in a practical and direct manner."
Does this apply to the examples of serial killer writing you've seen, either online or in movies or TV?
Handwriting analysts at AnnaKoren cite the following characteristics as indicative of 'schizoid' behavior, often associated with serial killers:
Vigilant and tense handwriting.
Extremely strong pressure.
Angles, Arcades, Separation, Narrowness, Peculiarities and exaggeration.
Extremely wide spaces between words or identical to the spaces between letters.
Covering strokes, Emphasized upper zone, Left of upright slant.
Frozen, Tense strokes, High upper zone, Large or extreme height differentials.
At times - a weak stroke, Secondary narrowness.
Angular connections, Rhythmic writing.
Covering the whole page, Strange ending of letters.
"Invented," Twisted or Broken letters.
Corrections, especially "artistic corrections."
Abundance of punctuation marks or lack of them.
Let's see how much these traits apply to real life serial killers...
John Wayne Gacy
Strange ending of letters, peculiarities and exaggeration, twisted letters and angular connections are all present.
Dahmer's writing is not joined up, showing separation and unusual letter formations.
Koren points out 'emphasized lower zone and the deformed letters' in Bundy's writing, with extremely exaggerated loops and letter embellishments.
The Zodiac Killer
Possibly the best example of typifying a 'schizoid' personality, the Zodiac's writing shows many signs of a fragmented psyche, including "Invented" letters, vigilant and tense handwriting, wide spacing between words and letters, and manifold peculiarities and exaggerations.