Audio Comparison of EAR Calls — The Results

Part of our book involves some very in-depth detective and forensic work. As one of the investigations we’re doing for the book, we hired an audio expert to do some work on the three recordings attributed to EAR: The “dumb fuckers” call, the “Is Ray there?” call, and the “Gonna Kill You” call. We wanted to know if there was any way that we could determine whether the voices matched or not.

Rather than wait until 2019 when the book will be published, we thought we’d at least share the results with you.

The following tests were performed on the EAR calls:

  • Aural Speech Comparison (a non-technology-oriented technique where the expert, assisted by a linguist, listens to the recordings and makes notes of idiosyncrasies, breathing patterns, dialect, pronunciation, vocabulary, etc.)
  • Spectrograph Analysis (a technological process where speech can be visually rendered into what’s called a spectrogram, which is a graphic representation of the frequencies and amplitudes of a sound recording. The expert then looks for patterns)
  • Average Pitch Analysis (a probability-based test that determines whether the voices “sit” at the same frequency)
  • “Cepstrum” chart analysis (a visual representation of the pitch frequencies that a voice sits at… they can be compared to each other).
  • Stock Comparison (the voices are submitted to a database which contains over a million voice samples, and a probability comes back on their uniqueness and similarities to each other)

Long story short — inconclusive. There was no way, given the samples that we have, to determine whether the voices match or not. We didn’t just look for all three to match, but also looked for a “Ray” to “Gonna Kill You” match, a “Ray to Dumb Fuckers” match, etc.

We’re happy to at least have a little bit of science behind us on this and it was worth exploring, even though the result was inconclusive.

The story has a silver lining though — on another case we explored with this team, the Brandon Lawson case, we were able to not only make a sketchy part of his 911 call understandable, but possibly a major break in the case by preparing for LE some scientific evidence that there was another person present when he disappeared. After failing with the EAR, we needed a sidebar showing that the techniques actually work… because they do!

Additionally, an audio expert associated with an upcoming television show that we’re a part of was able to isolate the background sounds of the “Gonna Kill You” phone call, and there was a tiny bit of a surprise in there. It’s probably nothing that will move the case forward, but that show is coming out pretty soon so you’ll be able to find out what that is in just a couple months!