VIRGINIA LAWYERS WEEKLY
APRIL 5, 1999
Cina L. Wong was a teenager in boarding school when she first
experienced the FBI truism: “There is more crime committed
at the point of a pen than at the end of a gun.”
A group of girls had targeted her for harassment, Wong said.
They mugged her, cut her with fingernail clippers and left
her bleeding an unconscious. The incident was followed by
a series of notes with death threats.
The headmaster collected the notes from her and promised to
have them analyzed by a police handwriting expert. The matter
was never resolved to Wong’s satisfaction. But the experience
led her to resolve that she would become the best handwriting
expert in the United States, to keep herself and other from
Her quest led her from her native California to Norlfolk,
where she studied under David S. Liebman.
Now 36, Wong boasts a resume that reflects solid training
and experience in document examination. Her teachers have
included experts from the FBI, the US Secret Service, and
a specialist in how handwriting can be affected by health
problems and medications.
She currently is vice president of the National Association
of Document Examiners, and she has qualified in numerous courts
nationwide as an expert in the many forms document forgeries
In one Virginia case, she was able to like the writer of racist
hate notes to a message scratched onto the side of the victim’s
Mercedes. In a New York case, she was able to send police
into the headquarters of a life insurance scam that targeted
Jews with a detailed description of the dot-matrix printer
that had produced the paperwork in the scam.
Wong’s most publicized case so far involves the murder of
6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey of Boulder, Colo. She and Liebman
were hired by a self-styled victim’s rights attorney to compare
a copy of the three-page ransom note in the case with samples
that the lawyer said were written by JonBenet’s mother, Patsy.
The lawyer, Darnay Hoffman of New York, has sued to force
a prosecution in the case.
Wong opined that the note matched the sample on 30 points,
and that the writer of the samples probably wrote the ransom
note with the opposite hand. Such details as teardrop-shaped
rounded letters, such as “o” and “b”, curved exclamation points,
and “g’s” with the tail shaped as a right angle were consistent
between samples and notes.
Wong asserts that she believes there is a 95 percent likelihood
that, if Patsy Ramsey produced the samples, she also wrote
the ransom note. Hoffman has included their findings in documents
related to his suit, but so far Wong and Liebman have not
been called to present their findings to he grand jury in
Meanwhile, Wong has added a new job to her busy schedule –
selling pens at the Colorado Pen Company’s store at the new
MacArthur Mall in downtown Norfolk. There, she not only has
an opportunity to hand out her business card to lawyers who
com in to shop, but she continues to educate herself as she
watches customers test the pens.
She observes how they hold the pens, how they move their hands
and arms, and the characteristics of different inks and manufacturers.
You never know when the observation might lead to an epiphany
in a case, she said.