Update: A full version of the letter is posted here.
This is a follow-up to add some background to my earlier post on Dellen Millard’s jailhouse letter to a female admirer.
Like many others, my first reaction was that the letter must be a fake. I found the handwriting girly and the contents childish. It looked to me like something one of those killer groupies might write to herself and then display on Facebook to impress like-minded friends.
I only started to suspect there might be more to the story when a concerted effort was made to get me to drop my very preliminary research into the letter. After all, why even bother if it’s a fake?
For reasons of privacy and security, the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services could not authenticate the letter. However a look at other letters written from the same jail confirmed that the paper, standard Staples stock, is what prisoners use as is the pencil.
As for this specific letter, Millard was known by a group of people who worked with him as someone who liked to do little drawings of planes, making the fact that he would doodle a speeding truck or SUV on his letter slightly less odd, although still disturbing given the context. Members of the group also said they recognized his handwriting even though they did not keep any samples of it.
One member of the group said that the lines where Millard invites his correspondent to visit him in jail jumped out and were typical of the controlling behaviour Millard often exhibited:
I’d like very much to continue to write to you: to have your support, and to have a proper conversation, once I make bail.
(Which I hope will happen in September).
But for that to happen, I’m going to have to meet you in person first.
A businessman who had dealings with Millard and still has handwriting samples said in his opinion the handwriting was an “exact match.” (Since I first wrote about this letter, a number of people have pointed out that this businessman is not a handwriting expert, which is true but somewhat beside the point given that even the courts don’t require a handwriting expert to authenticate documents.)
Jim Van Allen, former manager of the OPP’s Criminal Profile Unit, said of the letter: “I’m not surprised by the content…I think it’s totally consistent with (MIllard) and his circumstances.”
He noted that the letter was “implying (Millard’s) innocence although not defending it with any specific details.”
The letter’s purpose, said Van Allen, was to establish a connection with the recipient, “charm her a bit. Being in custody is boring. He’s looking to spice things up.”
Van Allen was struck by Millard’s comment that he “go(es) out of his way not to step on ants. In almost 800 murder cases, that (type of) phrase is generally only used by somebody that has involvement,” he said. “We refer to it as ‘words of confession framed in a form of denial.’ It more than lifts one of my eyebrows.”
Van Allen, who is now president of Behavioural Science Solutions Group, also noted how the letter blames other people, media and police but is “totally devoid of supporting details.” He described it as Millard’s “weak unsubstantiated attempt to defend himself.”
As for whether the handwriting is feminine, he said that research shows that gender differences are not seen in writing’s physical appearance, but rather in content style. He added that women are more likely to include little drawings as Millard did.
Van Allen described the decision to write the letter as “impulsive and somewhat reckless.”
“This type of personality is a nightmare for a lawyer. You can’t control them,” he said. “They are individuals who often don’t consider the consequences of their actions.”
Millard’s lawyer Deepak Paradkar said in an email yesterday: “I am not familiar with this letter and cannot authenticate it. I therefore have no comment on it.” (I forwarded him a copy of the letter and he said he would try to look at it when he got out of court yesterday.)
If you have any questions about the letter, please leave a comment. If you have more information about this letter or the investigations into Dellen Millard, please contact me at email@example.com.
5 thoughts on “The Dellen Millard Jailhouse Letter Part II”
Great article Ann ! Thank you
I admit to being baffled by Mr VanAllen’s comment regarding stepping on ants. ““We refer to it as ‘words of confession framed in a form of denial.’ It more than lifts one of my eyebrows.”” Perhaps he’s unaware that this is a well-known threshold Buddhist view on the sanctity of all life forms. I have no idea whether DM espouses that or any religion but anyone with even a passing intellectual interest is certainly familiar with the concept. Regardless of DM’s guilt or innocence, I find it very hard to reconstruct his comment into some form of confession or denial.
Jim Van Allen’s point was that guilty people very often tend to say things like “I go out of my way not to step on ants,” “I wouldn’t hurt a fly,” etc. He also said it’s possible for an innocent person to say this and the fact that one uses an expression like this obviously does not prove guilt. Rather, it’s a strong indicator that the investigation into this person is not without merit.
In fact, this is so well known it’s become a bit of a movie/TV cliche. I noticed the fictional accused murderer say it in last week’s episode of The Killing and here’s another variation on the theme: