Arthur Myers, handwriting expert

April 30, 1993|By Staff Report

Arthur P. Myers, a Baltimore handwriting expert who worke for the defense in the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case, died Tuesday of cancer at Good Samaritan Hospital. He was 95.

Mr. Myers, a Northeast Baltimore resident described by a reporter in 1981 as a "very polite, very dignified, wispy little gentleman," was still doing many styles of calligraphy on invitations at the time of his death and last testified in court about two years ago.

And while he testified in 600 criminal and civil cases from Massachusetts to Washington, he never testified in his most famous case.

He and his partner, Samuel Curtis Malone, were called to Flemington, N.J., by the defense in the 1935 trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was being tried for the 1932 kidnapping of Charles A. Lindbergh Jr., the infant son of the famous aviator.

But they went home without taking the stand after examining ransom notes and Hauptmann's handwriting, concluding that the prosecution was right in accusing Hauptmann of writing the notes.

He came away from the trial with coveted souvenirs, including a paper cup used by Hauptmann and a copy of a letter the kidnapper sent to the New Jersey governor on the day of his 1936 execution.

xTC When Mr. Myers did testify in cases, he came to court with easels, photographs, ultraviolet lights, magnifying glasses, chemicals and other paraphernalia to make his point.

His cases included bad checks, wills and suits for damages, and he kept files and souvenirs on all of them. He liked to tell of the time he determined that a receipt for $48,000, dated 1934, was phony.

The receipt, he concluded, was written with a ball point pen.

Ball points were not yet invented in 1934.

Forgery, Mr. Myers believed, is hard to get away with.

"Nobody would think of trying to copy a fingerprint and a man's signature is just as personal as his fingerprints," Mr. Myers once said. His training in penmanship and calligraphy allowed him to write in many different styles, including those of medieval monks, and he could easily sketch a bald eagle with a few pen strokes.

Born in York County, Pa., he excelled in penmanship in his early education, and attended business school while studying writing privately. He was teaching penmanship at a business school when he answered an advertisement for an assistant to Dr. Malone and came to Baltimore in 1922.

Services for Mr. Myers were to be conducted at 1 p.m. today at the Everhart-Jackson-Heffner Funeral Home in York, Pa.

He is survived by a companion, Ida Branford of Baltimore.

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