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Ruth Holmes

Ruth Holmes has done forensic work as an expert document and handwriting examiner for nearly 40 years, and like her namesake, the fictional Sherlock Holmes, she is known for her powers of observation and reasoning, solving legal mysteries both locally and on an international level. Having appeared on CBS News, Discovery, CNBC, BBC, Canada AM, Court TV and Dateline/NBC, Holmes is known as a ”sage of signatures and sentences,” using handwriting to shine a light on wrong-doings like fraud, forgery, bomb threats and murder. It’s been a storied career that utilizes her innate talents of communication and research, making it the perfect fit for her.

As a Certified Document Examiner (C.D. E.), Holmes is founder of forensic and personnel consulting firm, Pentec, Inc., advising individual, legal and corporate clients in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Located in Bloomfield Hills, Pentec works frequently for human resource divisions – as in the 100 employee profiles she evaluated for a local hotel that was opening. Other client cases are financial institutions, police departments and manufacturers, where she uses her expertise to examine documents and signatures on checks, contracts, wills, deeds and medical records, as well as assessing threatening letters like the one from a bomb threat case she’s currently working on. Holmes acts as a jury consultant with some of the leading attorneys in the country as a court qualified expert witness in federal, state and local courts.

Working primarily in forensic document examination, assisting on high profile cases comes with the territory for the Bloomfield Hills resident and mother of two. She consulted on a murder trial seen on the television show Forensic Files II, called “Personal Penmanship,” about a Lake Orion woman.

“A big break in the case was the detectives found a handwritten note that helped to determine the outcome of the case,” Holmes said. “I also worked on five different trials of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, assisting in jury selection and was a consultant on three of the movies about him, including ‘You Don’t Know Jack,” with Al Pacino.”

And what does Holmes say the legendary doctor’s signature said about him? “Kevorkian’s handwriting showed he was brilliant, mentally gymnastic and creative, and his disconnected letters are called 'print script,' something done when a person’s mind is moving faster than his hands can keep up.

“It’s important to note that while aspects of handwriting examination can be entertaining, we use full scientific methods in drawing a scientific conclusions when we take on a case,” explained Holmes. “Handwriting doesn’t take a side, and we evaluate if it’s genuine by specific elements like tremor, change of writing direction, speed, inaccurate letter forms and even ink blobs. Another important fact is that a forged document won’t ever be notarized.”

The future doesn’t have Holmes slowing down any time soon. She’s been a member of local women’s leadership groups such as Women’s Official Network and National Association of Women Business Owners.

“Also, National Handwriting Day is January 23, in honor of John Hancock’s birthday, and I’m passionate about bringing back the teaching of cursive writing in our schools,” she laments. “The omission of cursive has so many detrimental effects, involving brain function, language, learning and communication skills. Thankfully, a bill to adopt curriculums for cursive writing passed overwhelmingly in the Michigan House of Representatives recently, now it’s hoped the option will pass in the Senate. After all, John Hancock’s legendary signature on our country’s Declaration of Independence is in cursive and it would be a shame if young people in the future aren’t able to read it.”

Story: Susan Peck

Photo: Laurie Tennent


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