Sheila Lowe: The Anthony’s — The Secrets In Their Handwriting

Sheila Lowe: The Anthony’s — The Secrets In Their Handwriting

The Defense has rested, and by the time this blog is posted, chances are, the Casey Anthony murder case will have gone to the jury. It’s been some time since a trial has created such intense public interest—maybe not since OJ Simpson. There are allegations of murder, sexual abuse, illicit romance; a veritable soap opera. In fact, it’s been said that if an enterprising author came up with a similar story it would never sell—it’s just too over the top to believe.

At the center of the circus is Casey Anthony, now 25, a young woman who has been proven to be an inveterate liar, accused of the most heinous crime—overdosing her 2 year old daughter with chloroform and leaving her body to rot in a wooded area where men go to relieve themselves and dump garbage.

Part of Casey’s defense has been that she was the victim of childhood sexual abuse by her father George and her brother Lee, which, her attorney claims, was covered up and taught her to live a lie. As a forensic handwriting examiner, I was interested to analyze samples of the major players in this drama, to see what could be revealed about their personalities.

Handwriting is not a crystal ball. It cannot determine whether Casey killed her young daughter, nor whether her father and/or her brother molested her. However, it does reveal a lot about behavior and motivations. If I had been unaware of the accusations, the signs of early sexual abuse were evident in her handwriting. That is, Casey’s handwriting is similar in many ways to the handwritings of other women who were the victims of childhood abuse.

The excessively large, overly rounded, crowded style are signs of a weak ego in someone who grew up believing that the world revolved around her. Never learning how to set proper boundaries gave her an unrealistic view of the way things work. There isn’t enough “air” in the writing, words are crammed up against each other, allowing for zero objectivity. There’s an inability to set boundaries between herself and others. As someone who sees only how things affect her, she fails to look at the big picture.

The lack of lower loops are an indicator for secrecy and denial, in that her desire and ability to look back at the past and learn from it are cut off. Her personal pronoun “I” is made like a stick figure, which is interesting in that the PPI represents the writer’s feelings about their parents. Generally speaking, we’re taught in school to make the I with an upper loop (feelings about mother) and a lower loop (feelings about father). When a writer cuts off the loops and makes a straight stroke, a bid for independence, pushing away the parents.

Casey’s handwriting has a very slight leftward slant and is “print-script,” a combination of printing and cursive. There’s a big conflict between her big emotions and her cool-heatedness, so she can be both highly impulsive and premeditated, depending on her mood of the moment—and because she doesn’t plan ahead, her life is lived in the moment.

Her signature is illegible, another form of covering up. She crosses through her last name—her father’s name—which is a way of denying him.

Turning to George Anthony’s handwriting, he has two styles (only the cursive is shown here). As a former police officer, he sometimes uses block printing, but he also writes in cursive.

His cursive style has a rather feminine appearance (gender is not conclusively revealed in handwriting), and the writing is very regular, with strong rhythm. Handwriting analysts look at contraction and release, which indicates how balanced the writer is in the way they express emotion and control emotion. George’s writing is strongly contracted, meaning that he holds everything inside, where it builds up until it explodes (which we have seen on the witness stand). This type of writing also say that image is extremely important to him. For anyone to see him as less than perfect and totally competent produces feelings of intense humiliation. People with this type of handwriting are usually willing to go to some lengths to keep up appearances.

Casey’s brother, Lee Anthony’s, handwriting slants in a variety of directions. The baseline, even though he’s writing on lined paper, bounces up and down, too. And the size of writing fluctuates.

All this variability points to tremendous inner conflict, emotional torment—and of course, with good reason in this case. It’s more than that, though. People who write like Lee tend to feel as if they didn’t get the nurturing they needed early in life. He’s very sensitive, quite different from his sister, who is about as sensitive as a rock. He may feel as if he never quite fit in, that he’s missing something that everyone else seems to have. He’s also impatient and can be quite critical and sharp-tongued—notice the i dots that look like dashes. Because he feels emotionally isolated, it’s probably hard for him to relate to others on their level, but of these three people, I would tend to believe what Lee says more than any of the others.

What about Jesse Grund, a former boyfriend of Casey’s? Surprisingly, perhaps, Jesse’s handwriting shows a reasonable overall balance.

There are no big red flags that stand out—maybe that’s why they broke up. He looks like a nice guy, and she needed someone who would feed her insatiable need for approval and attention that bordered on worship, but also someone who would abuse her, speaking to her inner fear that she’s not loveable.

Finally, let’s take a peek at Casey’s mother, Cindy Anthony.

Cindy’s handwriting says she’s what we might call a “good girl.” She wants to do the right thing, to keep things orderly and take care of the people she loves. After all, she’s the one who got this ball rolling by calling 911 and reporting little Caylee missing. Underneath the good girl, though, is a rebel that defiantly pops out every now and then—we see this in letters that suddenly grow large, such as the “k” in “know,” and the “s” at the end of “always.” Her signature is particularly interesting, with its little bow tie on the top of the “o” in “Mom.” Because of the area in which it appears, it could be interpreted as symbolically locking her lips and keeping her own secrets. And keeping secrets is something this family seems to be very good at.

Sheila Lowe is a forensic handwriting examiner who testifies in cases involving handwriting. She is the author of the Forensic Handwriting Mysteries ( and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis. Sheila also helped to produce the Handwriting Analyzer software—try it out free at For more information about handwriting analysis, visit her website:


27 replies
  1. Jean Harrington
    Jean Harrington says:

    Sheila, A fascinating analysis of the Anthonys’ handwriting. I’m going to spend the rest of the afternoon looking up your website and scrolling through everything you have to say.

    Handwriting analysis has long been a hobby of mine. When I taught English lit at Becker College in Worcester, Mass, I used to tell my writing students I had them all psyched out through their handwriting alone. Used to create quite a stir in the classroom! I’m strictly an amateur, but it is amazing what can be learned through this method. Since so many reponders to your blog are skeptical, let me say that the brain dictates what the hand writes. You cannot hide what you are no matter how you try to disguise your writing method. And a professional analyist can even decipher personality traits in Chinese calligraphy! What fun this topic is. And how helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe says:

    The type of analysis I do is based on the gestalt (spatial arrangement, writing form, writing movement), rather than just looking at individual letters, so any writing can be analyzed. Where there is a mental or physical condition that affects the handwriting, it would be important for the analyst to have that information, as it could otherwise skew the findings.
    As for sociopaths, because they have no conscience, signs of guilt won’t show up in their handwriting, but there are likely to be other signs of problem behavior. Remember, handwriting analysis isn’t psychic, it’s not a crystal ball. It gives a lot of important information, but it cannot tell *everything* about a person. So the short answer is, “maybe.”

    Although Indiana is the most recent state to stop teaching cursive writing (watch the learning disorders and bad behavior escalate), we will always need some form of writing. What happens when there’s a huge storm or an earthquake and the power goes down for days–a pen and paper can still be used.

  3. Glenda
    Glenda says:

    For the people that are nay-saying something that is quite possibly a reflection of the persons personality traits: Would you like to submit a handwriting sample? It sure would be interesting.

    I, for one, have noticed when I’m stressed, my handwriting does change from when I’m in an elevated-happy mood. The basic style is the same, but spacing and size do change.

    I’m glad to say that I have loops under the lines, have power loops, isn’t scrunched on the page, and my “i” dots are dots, not lines.

    But here is the thing. Since the world has gone from the handwritten word to the type written word, I’m wondering what the next new science is going to lead us?

  4. Barbara L
    Barbara L says:

    P.S. Can you pick up sociopaths from handwriting? I’ll have to take a look at your book.

  5. Barbara L
    Barbara L says:

    Interesting. I can clearly see the strangeness of Casey Anthony’s handwriting. I can’t recall seeing anyone writing like that before.

    What can you say about people with handicapped writing? My son has dysgraphia (but he has been able to reach his potential for a substantial career, thank goodness for typing).

    I understand your frustration. I worked in science related to climate, and people with no background whatever will tell me they don’t “believe” in global warming, period. I can’t figure out how people that know nothing at all can be so sure.

  6. Molly McKinney
    Molly McKinney says:

    7-9-11 — Hi Shiela — Many thanks for obtaining the fascinating samples of the Anthony family’s handwriting, and for your excellent analysis of same. Obviously Casey’s indicates major strangeness, while Lee’s shocked me for being so different from the others, and was good to have a normal person’s for comparison as well. Anyone who thinks handwriting analysis is bogus is looking for instant gratification, and could not handle the intensive study needed to recognize the definite and distinct personality markers. It takes an educated and sophisticated person to appreciate the subtleties and challenges of handwriting analysis.
    Shiela, I enjoyed meeting you at Borders in Tucson a while ago. Your book, “Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis,” is invaluable for both laymen and professionals. As a strictly amateur graphologist and fiction writer myself, I find the practice extremely rewarding for character analysis. Keep up the good work, and I wish you continued success and the best Karma!
    :-)) Molly

  7. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe says:

    I am not just a “true believer,” Lnn. Please don’t insult me. I have a master of science in psychology and have studied the science of handwriting analysis (not graphoanalysis, which is a different school fo though) for over 40 years. I have analyzed more than 15,000 handwriting samples for clients, some of whom are major corporations, psychologists, law enforcement, and others. These are educated people, they are not gullible, and I assure you I am not a con artist. It’s frustrating when people make these big pronouncements about a practice that they clearly know nothing about.

    There is nothing about “sympathetic magic,” in handwriting analysis. It is based on common sense and scientific principles. It has been researched in universities. Do you really mean to imply that personality is not seen in handwriting? If that were true, then everyone would write exactly alike, and would write exactly the way they were taught in school. People write differently because they are different. What’s so hard to understand about that?

  8. Lyn
    Lyn says:

    To me, this handwriting analysis looks a lot like sympathetic magic. (I’m not a magician, but a reader whose range includes fantasy.) Little bow knots on the “o” in Mom mean she is pursing her lips, or whatever it was. If ten states accept this, then forty states do not. A former friend of mine, and a whole lot of other people, believe wholeheartedly in astrology, citing their years of experience and the prevalence of the beliefs.

    But no. Sorry. It’s just too cute, with the whole notion of the population agreeing to some subconscious cryptography. Phrenology, now there’s a forensic goldmine. 🙂

    Sheila is a true believer; she’s not lying or trying to con anybody. But, um, nope. Not buying it.

    George, Lee, and Jesse should stampede away from the murderous Casey and her enabling mother. Grisly. Just proves that if you can hide the body long enough, you can get away with murder. Ugh.

  9. Ashley McConnell
    Ashley McConnell says:

    I am sorry to say that I am very, very skeptical about graphoanalysis, no matter how many years of “experience” the practitioner has. Where is the scientific evidence that backs it up? Where are the blind studies? As it is, such claims as “The excessively large, overly rounded, crowded style are signs of a weak ego in someone who grew up believing that the world revolved around her” seem to me to be akin to the ancient belief, held for centuries, in sympathetic magic, where if something LOOKS like something else, they MUST be related.

    I agree with Tracy Nichol–analysis of handwriting such as that used in document authentication is valid, but personality assessment? I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it, and if I were on a jury and either side produced an “expert” to testify to such stuff I would consider it a very bad mark against them.

  10. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe says:

    Tracy, you are certainly welcome to your opinion. After more than 40 years of practice in this profession, mine is based on a whole lot of experience. What I see as the biggest problem is that there is no licensing or controls in the field, which means that anyone can call themselves a handwriting analyst without proper training. I am currently working on producing a new proficiency testing and certification program for practitioners who are willing to put themselves to the test.

  11. Tracy Nicol
    Tracy Nicol says:

    Handwriting experts for determining if a certain person wrote a document based on their other writings, yes. Handwriting experts who can assess personality, no, I absolutely do not believe in it. If Pittsburgh Police use it or others, then I feel they are making a terrible mistake, but it wouldn’t be the first time that faulty science was used. My feelings have nothing to do with you personally, Sheila. I have gone through this with experts quite some time ago. I would just like to agree to disagree. I don’t want to argue about something we both have definite beliefs about that are not going to change. I don’t want to argue at all. I didn’t come here to start trouble. I just needed to state my opinion. Thank you.

  12. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    Tracy, your statement is NOT true. Departments in the Pittsburgh area often use a handwriting expert–we have one in this area who was just featured on Doug Lyle’s blog. She’s very well known and very well respected.

  13. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe says:

    Tracy, as I said, handwriting analysis for personality assessment has been accepted in court in at least ten states. I also testify as to authenticity. I don’t know why you think it isn’t possible to assess personality traits from handwriting, but perhaps you should do some open-minded research. You are incorrect regarding the law’s acceptance.

  14. Tracy Nicol
    Tracy Nicol says:

    I do not wish to be rude, but I do not believe in this “science” of handwriting analysis. Yes, there is a science of proving documents are written by a certain individual compared to their other writings. That’s a completely different thing. Judging an individual’s personality by their handwriting is not a science and is not even possible. No one I know in any division of law would accept this. It is bogus.

  15. Pat Marinelli
    Pat Marinelli says:

    Interesting seeing the samples from the people involved in this case. I too am waiting to hear the jury’s verdict.

    Rick, to answer your questions, I sent Sheila a one page sample of my handwriting in answer to her request for people to do so. I’ve never met Sheila but have read some of her comments on blogs and have since purchased her books. Her analysis was pretty much spot on.

    Due to allergies, mild dyslexia, and a slight focus problem, my handwriting also changes constantly. In no way did any of this may a difference in the out come. When I mailed the sample, I never told Shiela but I wrote the page over a period of a few days. I guess she will know that now. Again, the analysis I got back was so interesting considering I’d never met Shiela.

    This whole idea of handwriting analysis is facinating.

  16. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe says:

    JD — yes, there is science behind hanwriting analysis. You are welcome to download an anotated bibliography of a few studies that have been conducted. Handwriting analysis for personality assessment has been accepted in courts in at least ten states.

    Rick — Guilt or innocense is not determined from handwriting. If you look at the handwritings of the people above, you’ll see that they are all quite different because they reflect different personalities. All a handwriting analyst does is describe behavior as manifest on the page.

    SZ — everyone handwriting changes with mood to some degree. However, there are thousands of variables and your basic personality stays the same (unless you have dissociate identity disorder, and even then, there are common characteristics in the various samples).

    Wil — I have written more than 15,000 handwriting analyses for clients about whom I had no information, other than general age and gender (because those can’t be detected in hanwriting). Because the analyst in most cases never meets the writer, that is why handwriting analysis is an objective assessment tool for hiring, compatibility, or court. Still, human behavior is very complex and no tool should be used as the sole means to make a determination.

  17. Wil A. Emerson
    Wil A. Emerson says:

    Now we know what the jury thinks…not quilty in regards to all charges except lying. Interesting analysis of Casey’s writing. My question relates to the handwriting itself. Can you determine personality traits when you know nothing about the individual? It seems to be a prejudiced analysis when the individual has a public profile. Even when called as an expert witness, isn’t the stage set to render an opinion about the preceived personality? How can the analysis be truly subjective and can it be used as evidence in any court case? Sure would like to send you copies of a few ‘characters’ to uncover their personalities. Cheers, Wil

  18. SZ
    SZ says:

    Thank you Miss Lowe !

    Like Rick Bylina my hand writing can be different at times. Mostly if I have time to write large so you can actually read it ! Mostly I write like a 3rd grader. And sloppy =O

    How many different examples of one persons writing do you get to view when making an analysis ? How big a variance to you see ?

    I am going to try that website when I get back tonight.

    Have to say, like Casey, I too enjoy a man who may be a drunk, but at least they cook and know how to properly treat a woman. LOL

  19. Rick Bylina
    Rick Bylina says:

    I wouldn’t want my handwriting to determine guilt or innocense for me. Depending on the day or night, whether I’ve eaten or not, had a good night’s sleep or woke up every half-hour, my writing can slant forward or backwards, be cursive, block lettering, or both at the same time. It means I can be, “both highly impulsive and premeditated” at the same time. I sometimes switch to writing left-handed. My wife thinks my writing is really neat and clean; other ties it looks like a medical school training manual in how to write indecipherable prescriptions like a doctor.

    Nope, the handwriting of Casey means nothing. Stuffing your child in a trunk for weeks on end while you party and lie about your kids whereabouts means everything.

    “But I had a hangnail when I was nine and no one clipped it off for me and it made me angry when it got caught in my Daniel Boone coonskin cap, so I shot a squirrel in anger and that set me off. Blame the squirrel not me.”

  20. J.D.
    J.D. says:

    Is this more science than iridology? Maybe. Given all these samples, I could pick Casey’s out. Are there studies where handwriting experts match the writing to a person?

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