Aston University - Secrets found in text messages

September 18, 2008

Murderers and terrorists can be unmasked by the way they write documents and text messages, an academic told the British Association for the Advancement of Science festival last week. Tim Grant, deputy director of the Centre for Forensic Linguistics at Aston University, explained to the audience how language analysis is playing a key part in police investigations. He said linguistic analysis found that text messages were unlikely to have been sent by murder victim Jenny Nicholl but were stylistically similar to those sent by her former lover, David Hodgson, who was later convicted of murdering her. Dr Grant has set up a database of more than 7,000 texts as part of the research. The public can contribute by visiting

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