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Profile of Cho Seung Hui

Monday, April 16, 2007. Blacksburg, Virginia. At 7:15 a.m. someone called 911 to report gunshots at Virginia Tech University's West Ambler Johnson dorm. A man and a woman were dead.

Almost two hours later, at 9:01 a.m., Cho Seung Hui mailed a package at the Blacksburg post office. The Express Mail label on the package was addressed to NBC from "A. Ishmael."

At about 9:45 a.m., Cho chained the front doors of Norris Hall and made his way methodically through four classrooms, killing 30 more people before taking his own life.

What does the handwriting on the Express Mail label tell us about Cho's mental state?

Cho Seung Hui

If you look at the way Cho addressed the envelope, the first thing that you might notice is that Cho's handwriting is difficult to read. For example the word "Ave" could easily be read as "Art". And, look carefully at the name on the return address under "FROM". Is that from "Ishmael" or "Iihmael"? If that is an "s" why is it dotted? Notice also that the zip-code has too many digits.

Handwriting is a form of communication. People with semi-illegible scripts often mumble and put little effort into communicating clearly with others. When letters and numbers are ambiguous and confusing, like those of Cho's, it indicates that the writer is deceptive.

Look at how Cho wrote the words "Blacksburg" and "Rockefeller". Can you see that he scrunched his "c's" into the following "k's", leaving virtually no opening at all? The lowercase "c" is a significant letter because it shows how "closed off" a person is from society. Cho's closed "c's" are typical of an isolated, distrustful writer.

Also, notice the strange way Cho connected the "N" and the "e" in the word "New." It's abnormal to connect the top of a capital "N" to the lower case letter following it. This peculiar connection shows that in his mind, Cho connected things in bizarre ways.

And finally, if you hold the envelope vertically, you may notice something quite odd about the "e" in the word "Ave." This pitchfork like formation, known as "the Devil's fork," also appeared in the handwriting of Ted Bundy, Dennis Rader, and Keith Jesperson, three killers who showed no remorse for their crimes. They claimed that it was the Devil who was responsible for their actions. In his chilling videos, Cho says: "The decision was yours…I had to." 

Police are investigating handwritten bomb threats found earlier this month on the Virginia Tech campus. It will be interesting to see if they match Cho's handwriting.

Michelle Dresbold is a nationally known handwriting expert and personality profiler. Are you a doodler? Have a personal question or problem? Mail your doodles and handwritten letters to: The Handwriting Doctor, P.O. Box 1161, Monroeville, PA 15146.

© Copyright 2008 Michelle Dresbold and James Kwalwasser