ANALYSIS OF THE HUMMERT CASE
I’m going to explain in detail all the events of Charlene’s murder, the proofs that the police and the linguists found so that Brian Hummert was accused of being the killer of his wife, her children’s testimony, etc.
As it appears in the news by Miranda Knox, the victim, Charlene Hummert, “was a 48-year-old mother of three who had been married to her husband Brian for more than 20 years, was killed. She worked as an administrative assistant for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Her son, David Hummert, portrays her as a good mother, a caring and helpful woman with strong religious values in the forensic file episode”. (Knox M., 2019).
Then, we see that “Brian discovers an envelope on the windshield of his car in 2001, and inside they discover something surprising”. And also that “within the mail is a professional beauty shot of Charlene, similar to one she would have paid to have taken and shared, as well as a concerning note referring to Charlene as a “slut” and threatening with punishment”, (Knox M., 2019), which can be found here:
Here is the proof that your wife is a slut. Do what you will with it. Sorry it took so long. I only come occasionally back to the area on business. Merry Xmas. I will send you several copies of this so you get the information in case the slut intercepts one. Before I tell you how I got it, I want to tell you a little about myself. I played in a band back in the late seventies/early eighties. I had a one niter with your wife. She was a fine piece of ass that I enjoyed several times that night. Rumor had it that she occasionally took several guys at once and she sucked cock really well. I would have loved to have found out. A couple of days later she made sure my fiancée found out. She dumped me and then had an abortion. We have since patched things up and gotten married, but she can’t have any children. I blame your wife for that. The time is now right for payback. I hope to see your wife miserable the next time I am in the area. I ran into your wife back in September at Gabriel Brothers. I almost didn’t recognize her with her dyed hair. I have been following her around hoping she would mess up. On October 6, I followed your wife over to Capitol City Mall. She was dressed up more the usual for a Saturday of shopping. She went into the Picture People. This was around 10 AM. A couple of weeks later I went in and got copies of the pictures enclosed. On the negative holder she had written that the photo was a gift. There was no indication of which one she had printed up. I ask you who was it for? Also she does not have her wedding ring on. Why not? A red rose is a symbol of love. For who? I don’t think you know about these. Do you? Also she has purchased a lot of sexy bras and panties. Have you seen them or the red nightie? Were they brought for your enjoyment? You may also want to ask her about her Spencer Gift purchases. Do you love lubes with her? So you see once a slut always a slut. (Taken from: Forensic Miles, 2020).
“Charlene was taken aback because she said she had never had an affair and had no idea who had sent it. The letter was sent to the police, and the house was placed under surveillance, but it did not help. More letters were delivered. The family was understandably worried and always on edge. They thought they saw people on their property a couple occasions, according to David, but nothing happened”. (Knox M., 2019).
The police started investigating the letters, but found no fingerprints or evidence. They were confused. Until the next letter came. This letter was surprising since it stated:
“Hey dumbass, I know about the camera. Your kids’ friends have big mouths. I know someone’s house code is 7805. This is the third packet”. (Taken from Forensic Miles, 2020).
“At this time, she would be completely freaked out at this point, and I’m not sure she would be able to stay in the house. However, with three children, moving her family would have been extremely difficult. The marriage began to have troubles as a result of the stress and continual state of high alert, and disagreements became more common”. (Knox M., 2019).
One of these fights happened on the night of March 19th. “Charlene called after the fight finished, and her husband stated she left with the individual she had contacted about midnight. Her children were not at home that night, but they sensed something was wrong. David claimed he attempted to contact her several times but he was unsuccessful”. (Knox M., 2019).
Brian reported his wife missing later that night, and the police department put out an all-points bulletin for Charlene’s white Land Rover SUV. “It didn’t take them long to locate it. The automobile was discovered in a supermarket parking lot on March 20th. Charlene’s body was discovered lying under a blanket in the rear of the automobile”. “She died as a result of ligature strangulation. She had a distinctive mark on her neck, which authorities were unable to identify at the time”. (Knox M., 2019).
Charlene was chocked and strangled from behind, according to police, and there was nothing she could do. “They did assume, however, that it was someone she knew because he was able to approach so near”. (Knox M., 2019).
The family thought that they knew who was responsible, the person who had been sending her letters.
“The forensic pathologist discovered something fascinating during the autopsy: evidence that the murder scene had been manufactured. He discovered two key clues: first, Charlene’s pants were on backwards, implying that someone had put them on after she died. The second reason was that she was wet; nothing else in the car was wet, except her jacket. That is, she had gotten wet before getting in the automobile. He discovered a drag mark on her lower back with dirt and gravel lodged in it, but no proof that she was alive at the time”. (Knox M., 2019). Although forensic tests revealed nothing unusual in the mud and gravel, authorities did discover another clue.
Employees at the grocery shop mentioned seeing the SUV parked there early in the morning, and the investigators had an idea: “what if the driver of the automobile went into the grocery store to make it appear less obvious that they were up to something? They collected camera footage of the store and discovered a suspicious person”. (Knox M., 2019).
The images that they found were: “A man that appeared to be trying to get away from the cameras. He was dressed in crimson gloves, a parka, and a wool hat. And he just bought one thing. Biscuits for dogs. Now that we have dogs, we have to get up early on occasion to make emergency dog purchases, but I would never get up at dawn to buy dog biscuits! Unfortunately, due to the poor quality of the tape, they were unable to identify the man. They chose to send the image to a photo grammetrist, who converts a two-dimensional snapshot into a three-dimensional image”. (Knox M., 2019).
The grocery store sent the lengths of their floor tiles, “after which they snapped an image using the same camera and used a height chart to determine the mystery man’s height, which was 5 ft 5 inches”. (Knox M., 2019).
They weren’t going to give up on the dirt samples, though; “they were convinced it would reveal the murderer’s identity. So they sent it to a forensic microscopist to see if he could uncover anything that the forensic scientists couldn’t, which he did”. (Knox M., 2019). “The microscopist was able to extract evidence that was matched to soil found near Charlene’s home and elsewhere using a tuning fork, similar to the one used to tune instruments, and he found a match. The dirt was identical to that in the Hummerts’ yard. It was “a perfect match,” he said, and one of the best matches of his career”. (Knox M., 2019).
They now knew Charlene had been carried over her own driveway and put in her own car after being killed on or near her own driveway. Then, “the family home was searched after police obtained a search warrant. What they discovered did not disappoint them. They saw investigators found a piece of cable on the floor that the Hummert family had used as a dog leash. A metal piece connected to the cable matched the clear scar on Charlene’s neck perfectly. They came to the conclusion that Charlene was killed with a “dog leash” or something similar”. (Knox M., 2019).
Brian’s statements about his wife’s murder changed after this finding. He claimed that his son, David, was the murderer of Charlene, and he called his lawyers to do so.
“But the investigators weren’t stupid; they recognized that this accusation was false; in fact, one of the judges called the allegation “preposterous.” They realized this couldn’t be the case because of Charlene’s close relationship with all three children, but especially David”. (Knox M., 2019).
Her marriage to Brian, on the other hand, was not as happy. Charlene was preparing to divorce her husband. “This was not the first time she had done this, alleging Brian had abused the children”. (Knox M., 2019).
Then, out of nowhere, another letter arrives, claiming responsibility and addressed to the police department. It claimed responsibility for Charlene’s murder and stated that her husband was not involved:
I killed Charlene Hummert, not her husband. We had an affair for the past nine months. She wanted to break it off. So I broke her neck! I wrote letters to her husband and to Det. Loper. I used a white nylon rope to kill her they won’t find me I am leaving. I am writing because of Easter. I am sorry I killed her. They won’t find the cell phone she used to call me, it is in the river and not under my name. I carried her into the kitchen and then dragged her outside to her car. This is the fifth woman I killed. I am getting good at it. Cops have no idea how easy it is to pin husband when they only look there. She knew about pictures on PC. She told story to set up husband for the Divorce. Ha Ha ByeBye for now John. (Taken from: Forensic Miles, 2020).
The police agreed to send the letters to forensic linguist Dr. Robert Leonard, “who was a founder member of the rock band Sha Na Na. He stated his first experience with forensic linguistics was reading the contracts for this band, and that they often said one thing but meant something else”. (Knox M., 2019).
When Dr. Leonard compared the stalker letters to the letter that came at the police station, he discovered a clue, “a unique rhetorical indication in both letters: An Ironic Repetition, which is when the same verb is used in two consecutive sentences but the context is changed. According to Dr. Leonard, the letters were written by the same person”. (Knox M., 2019).
Dr. Leonard then examined writing samples identified as Brians and discovered something else: “negative contractions but no positive contractions. Many individuals use both, but Brian Hummert is the only person Dr. Leonard has ever encountered who only uses negative contractions”. (Knox M., 2019).
In addition, “Brian was also found with a blue parka and a receipt for dog treats in his residence, matching the height of the unknown male in the grocery store. Brian had written the letters on his computer, according to the evidence”. (Knox M., 2019).
The investigations took seven months before the arrest was made. “Brian was caught at his workplace and charged with criminal homicide, obstruction of justice, tampering with or falsifying physical evidence, and making false police reports”. (Knox M., 2019). Brian Hummert was apprehended and charged.
As we can see in the article by M. Knox: “Prosecutors said Brian saw his marriage deteriorating and hoped that by writing these letters to frighten his wife, he could become the hero and re-connect with her. The letters, on the other hand, just provoked conflicts, and authorities believe Charlene was aware that he was writing them. Brian snapped after an altercation, grabbed the nearest item he could find, strangled Charlene, clothed her, and left her car and body at the supermarket”. (Knox M., 2019).
After the investigation was finished, “Brian was given a life sentence without the chance of parole after being convicted of first-degree murder. David had never imagined that his father would do such a thing, but his opinion was quickly changed”. (Knox M., 2019).
David finally spoke up about his father on an episode of I Lived with a Killer in 2019.
Brian may have appeared to be a good father from the outside, but the truth was far from that. “Charlene was saving money to escape with her children at the time of her murder, according to David’s father, who was violent. David claimed that his father once fractured his nose by throwing a bike frame in his face”. (Knox M., 2019).
The following is a quote from The Sun: “But on the evening of March 19, 2004, David, then 18, and his teenage sister Tracey went out, leaving Brian and Charlene alone in the house David says: “I was out until approximately 4 am. When I came back my dad was up sitting in his computer room with all the lights off. “I asked him why he was still up and he said that he and my mother had got into a fight and she left and he was waiting for her to come home so they could talk about it. “I was pretty tired and just wanted to go to bed and figured if it was anything super serious, she would have called me or texted me or something.” But the following morning when Charlene still hadn’t returned home, David began to panic. David says: “It just did not feel right.”
(Taken from: Forensic Miles, 2020).
When his father stopped cooperating with the authorities, David sensed something was happening. As he claimed, “Brian began acting differently, he said, treating him well and offering to assist him if he needed anything – this wasn’t right”. (Knox M., 2019).
One of the most interesting aspects of the trial is that David’s sister sided with her father. “She refused to cooperate with the police, and while on the stand, she claimed that David was the murderer”. (Knox M., 2019).
The murder effectively ended the family, and David claims that he hasn’t spoken to either his sister or brother since the trial, which is a tragedy. These crimes also have too many consequences apart from both the victim and the murderer.
And then, I will provide details about Charlene’s murderer, Brian Hummert.
As I previously commented, he was Charlene’s husband, they had three children, one of them is David Hummert, who said that his father killed his mother. Brian and Charlene weren’t passing through a very good part of their relationship as a marriage, they didn’t understand each other and had a lot of confrontations and were going to divorce. Because of that Brian Hummert wanted to kill her wife, and tried not to be discovered by writing some letters that supposedly came from a stalker that was following her wife for a long time and from a serial killer that said that had killed 5 women including Charlene. He was very intelligent, because he tried to simulate two different ways of writing for not being discovered, the one of the stalker, and the one of the serial killer, obviously he tried that both were different from the way he writes daily on his e-mails, so that demonstrates that Brian had all planed, and a very cold mind to make a perfect plan for committing the murder. This means that the writer of the letters (Brian) had an extended knowledge of the language, it wasn’t someone without studies, it was someone that knew what he was doing and that had everything perfectly planned.
The police, and more concretely the linguists, had to analyse those letters and search details about the supposed author or authors of them. Luckily, the police had access to Brian’s computer and could compare how those letters were written with Brian’s way of writing in those e-mails. The letters by the stalker were very direct and menacing, telling all the events in detail and accusing her of having an affair with the supposed stalker. They were directed to Brian saying everything about the affair that Charlene and the stalker had, and the objective of Brian writing those letters was that the police thought that he wasn’t related to his wife’s murder and that the supposedly stalker was her killer or had very high possibilities of being the assassin.
There was also a letter that mysteriously was written by a serial killer and that said that he was guilty of Charlene’s murder and that Brian wasn’t related to her assassination. The serial killer in the letter also states that he had killed five women including Charlene. In this letter, the murderer confirms that he killer Mrs. Hummert and gives a detailed explanation of how the events happened and how he killed her.
Finally, as I said before, the linguists compare the letters by the stalker and the serial killers with some e-mails that they found on Brian Hummert’s computer, and discover some similarities between them that are the proof that the serial killer and the stalker didn’t exist, and those letters were written by Brian Hummert himself trying to write as if he was another person.
-Forensic Miles, 2020, “The Murder of Charlene Hummert.” Forensic Myles LLC, The Sun. https://www.forensicmyles.com/blogs/forensic-myles/the.
-Knox, M. 2019, “My Dad Strangled My Mum to Death with a Dog Collar – but My Sister Stood up for Him in Court.” The Sun, 21 Aug. 2019, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9736478/i-lived-with-a-killer-dad-stalked-strangled-mum-to-death-brian-hummert/.
-Arias, J. 2013, “Charlene Hummert, died at the hands of her husband: notorious murders” firstname.lastname@example.org, Jeremy Arias |. “Charlene Hummert, Died at the Hands of Her Husband: Notorious Murders.” Pennlive, 28 May 2013, https://www.pennlive.com/midstate/2013/05/notorious_murder_charlene_humm.html.
-Miller, M. 2013, “Court backs Brian Hummert’s conviction for wife’s 2004 murder in Fairview Township”, email@example.com, Matt Miller |. “Pa. Court Backs Brian Hummert’s Conviction for Wife’s 2004 Murder in Fairview Township.” Pennlive, 15 Oct. 2013, https://www.pennlive.com/midstate/2013/10/pa_court_backs_brian_hummerts.html.
– Samuel, N. 2012, “Reading Between the Lines: Dr. Rob Leonard’s Forensic Linguistics Program is Attracting Students to a Fast-Growing and Intriguing Legal Field”, PROFILES2012 – Hofstra University. https://www.hofstra.edu/pdf/academics/ce/professionaldevelopment/forensicstudies/ce_leonard_profile2012.pdf.