Rowland likely wrote cryptic murder note about gas, duct tape, matches, expert says

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A handwriting expert testified Thursday it is “probable” that the man accused of killing Samantha Josephson wrote a cryptic note police found during their investigation.

Neither the context nor the location where the letter was found was immediately clear, but it contained sparse words such as “duck,” “whole,” “gasoline” and “flip,” according to evidence presented at the trial of Nathaniel Rowland.

Prosecutors said the word flip stood for flip phone; whole stood for whole body, and duck stood for duct tape.

Rowland, 27, if on trial for murder in the kidnapping and killing of Josephson, a University of South Carolina student who was out with friends in the Five Points nightclub district when she disappeared. Her body was found the next day in the woods in Clarendon County with 100 stab wounds.

Authorities have said Josephson got into a car that she believed was her Uber ride. Instead, it turned out to be driven by her killer.

State Law Enforcement Division handwriting expert John Allan “Jack” Jamieson analyzed the note alongside handwritten documents obtained from Rowland’s former employers, Capital Waste Services and FedEx. Jamieson couldn’t say for certain Rowland wrote both documents, but said it was “probable” that he did.

“It’s probable, meaning high degree of likelihood” that the same person wrote both the cryptic note and Rowland’s employment paperwork, said Jamieson, who claims to have testified in more than 250 trials throughout his career.

“Probable” is neither the strongest nor the weakest conclusion in the practice of handwriting analysis, Jamieson testified. There are two determinations stronger than “probable,” in the industry that are “highly probable” and “identification,” which is a confirmed match between two documents, he said.

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