Explore how language is used in forensic investigations from the anthrax mailings, to voice line-ups, and the investigation of the murder of Daniel Pearl, with Dr. Natalie Schilling and James Fitzgerald. We break down the rape case against Eric Frimpong, and examine how witnesses can misinterpret language to shocking ends, as well as shed light on the misunderstood science of linguistics and the very real impact that it has on crime investigation, in this Crime Time episode hosted by Allison Hope Weiner.
Dr. Natalie Schilling is an internationally-renowned linguist and an Associate Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University. She is recognized for her research on language variation across cultural groups and is especially well-known for her work on individual language style and stylistic variation. She is an expert on American English dialect variation, has extensive knowledge of variation in World Englishes, and also conducts research on variation in Spanish. Dr. Schilling is currently conducting research on authorial attribution and author profiling. She teaches Forensic Linguistics and Sociolinguistics (Language and Society) at Georgetown University and was a regular instructor in the FBI’s Forensic Linguistic Workshop for Law Enforcement Practitioners, designed and led by AGI Practitioner James R. Fitzgerald. Dr. Schilling also presents on and teaches Forensic Linguistics in various venues in Spain. She has given more than 100 presentations at U.S. and international academic conferences, universities, and training workshops, and has authored numerous academic articles and book chapters. She is co-author of a definitive textbook, American English, and co-editor of the authoritative Handbook of Language Variation and Change.
James R. Fitzgerald was the Program Manager of Threat Assessment/Forensic Linguistics at the Behavioral Analysis Unit 1 of the FBI. Fitzgerald knew little about profiling or linguistics when he joined the FBI in 1987. But, while assigned to the field office in New York City, he worked cases involving stalking or threatening letters sent to Jane Pauley, Bryant Gumbel, Don Imus, Donald Trump, and Rush Limbaugh, among others.
In 1995, Fitzgerald became a profiler at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va. As part of Fitzgerald’s profiler training, he learned about analyzing communications. He later obtained a Master’s degree in linguistics from Georgetown University. (This was his second MS. His first was in Organizational Psychology at Villanova University.) As he has at his present company, The Academy Group, Fitzgerald created a linguistic-oriented database of threatening and/or suspicious letters, similar to one the Secret Service maintains.Fitzgerald now works for the Academy Group in Manassas, Va., which provides profiling services for private industry as well as a university instructor, author, and technical advisor for television programs (Criminal Minds) involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Crime Time Full Episodes Playlist:
Crime Time Shorts Playlist:
00:01 Welcoming Jim Fitzgerald and Natalie Schilling to Crime Time.
02:35 2001 Anthrax attacks at the White House recap.
05:17 Profiling the anthrax attacker.
06:36 9/11’s influence on homegrown terror.
07:34 Daniel Pearl, The Wall Street Journal and FBI jurisdiction.
08:54 Eric Frimpong rape case recap.
09:50 Forensic linguistics and the issues with “ear witness” testimony.
14:14 Police voice lineups and factors to skew auditory reliability.
18:42 Examining the other forensic analysis of the crime.
19:26 Bite marks, tooth patterns and forensic odontology.
22:53 Race and keeping with the science.
24:18 Why forensic linguistics matters.
29:57 Linguistic profiling, dialect features and speech patterns.
37:38 Sociolinguistics and dialect regions in the US.
38:30 Thank you and goodbye.