When the writer for a television crime drama wanted professional advice on handwriting analysis, he turned to someone who developed her skills analyzing the scribbles of her classmates in Olivia and, later, Willmar.
We'll see the results Wednesday when CBS Television airs its 61st episode of "Criminal Minds.'' The episode is called "A Higher Power'' and is written by Michael Udesky.
The television writer contacted Treyce d'Gabriel, a 1982 graduate of Willmar Senior High School and a former resident of Olivia. She is the adopted daughter of the late Bud and Audrey Geier of Olivia.
Today, d'Gabriel is the owner of the Center of Forensic Profiling in Avondale, Ariz. She is also a prolific author on the topic of handwriting analysis. d'Gabriel said much of her professional work is devoted to using her skills in handwriting analysis to help law enforcement investigators.
Reached by telephone, d'Gabriel said she is eager to see the upcoming episode of Criminal Minds. But like the rest of us, she doesn't have a clue as to how the show will play out. She said the writer tapped her knowledge of the science of handwriting analysis, but offered no insights into how it would be used in the show.
According to CBS, the show's Behavioral Analysis Unit is called to Pittsburgh when an unusually high suicide rate appears to be the work of an Angel of Death. d'Gabriel said the writer discussed the analysis of suicide notes with her.
No matter what the fictitious television drama may feature, it's a safe bet to say that it is probably no match for the real-life investigations that d'Gabriel has seen in her work. Her experience has ranged from being contracted by the defense team for Michael Jackson to a case where she warned a woman that her husband could brutally kill her. One year later, he did.
In one case, d'Gabriel said she helped investigators identify a bank employee who stole small amounts of money from many different accounts. The thefts had totaled over $1 million, said d'Gabriel.
She said our handwriting is very revealing about our personality traits, and consequently can be very telling about what we are capable of doing.
Our handwriting is also as unique as our fingerprints, she said.
d'Gabriel has been paying attention to what our handwriting reveals since she was 10 years old and growing up in Olivia. One of her father's close friends from his days in the military and a frequent visitor was Charles Stahl, owner of the San Francisco School of Handwriting Analysis.
"Uncle Charlie'' as he was known to d'Gabriel introduced her to the science of handwriting analysis, and became her mentor for years. d'Gabriel said she learned how to analyze handwriting by keeping the notes and letters she received from her classmates. She separated them in two shoeboxes, one for those with kind messages and the other for mean-spirited missives.
Stahl showed her how to analyze the writings not for the content of the words, but for the mechanics of the writing itself. How a person slants letters, spaces words, and makes the loops and shapes of various letters all tell something about the writer's personality, according to d'Gabriel.
She also cautions that handwriting analysis only tells so much. She watched one popular television crime drama in which a handwriting "expert" made conclusions that are really not possible at all. It upset her enough to contact CBS and voice her complaint.
She said the popular image of handwriting analysis ranges from those who lump it together with reading tea leaves and palms, to those who believe the science is almost all-revealing.
d'Gabriel said the science of handwriting analysis is often misunderstood, and sometimes abused. There is no licensing system for forensic handwriting analysts. The Internet makes it possible for anyone to hang out a shingle and pretend to be an expert, she warned.
This can make it all very difficult for consumers who are looking for handwriting analysts who can offer genuine help. She makes a point of listing her references and clients -- including a long list of law enforcement agencies -- to help consumers who want to analyze her abilities.
Learn more about her at: