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!

The Brandon Lawson Case – Enhancing the 911 Call

Brandon Lawson, missing since August 8th, 2013
Brandon Lawson, missing since August 8th, 2013

On the night of August 8th, 2013, a man named Brandon Lawson disappeared somewhere off of US-277 between San Angelo and Bronte, TX. There’s very little evidence of what could have happened to him outside of a 911 call that he made, and as with most missing persons cases, the possibilities are almost endless.

Folks who follow my work know that when I approach a case, I like to strip away theory, unverifiable fact, and start at the basics. In this case, we have a haunting 911 call from the subject himself on the night that he disappeared, and while several talented folks have poured over it looking for clues and debating interpretations, the one thing that we can all agree on is that there’s still valuable information left to be found in this call.

To that end, I enlisted the services of an audio specialist to help make sense of this call. Not only did he provide some cleanup and a transcript, but he provided several files that show a breakdown of the work that he did. I’m happy to share them here with you all, and I hope that some portions of the call are now clearer. Simply click on the links found within the transcript to hear the related enhanced portions of the call, and look below the transcript for more files. Please note that these are lossless WAV files, and if you’re on a laptop or desktop, they might not play in your browser (right click and use “Save As” to get them onto your device.

“You there.” That’s what it sounds like the background voice seems to be saying after the dispatcher asked Brandon if he needed an ambulance. “No, I need the cops” Brandon told her. If Brandon met with foul play that night, it’s possible that we’re hearing the voice of his attacker.

While some headway has been made here, there’s still more to do. The specialist continues to work with the first part of the call in hopes that the unintelligible part at the beginning can be deciphered. If progress is made, I’ll be sure to update you.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that one day Brandon’s family can receive closure. If you have any feedback, please contact me at

Possible Transcript

Dispatcher: 911 Emergency.

Brandon: Yes I’m in the middle of a field with (unintelligible). Right here goin’ towards Abiline on both sides. My truck ran out of gas. There’s one car here, a guy chasin’ me, through the woods. Please hurry.

Dispatcher: Okay, now run that by me one more-

Brandon: There’s a guy talking to him. I totally ran into him.

Dispatcher: Ah, you ran into him, okay.

[unintelligible background voice(s)]

Brandon: Just the first guy.

Dispatcher: Do you need an ambulance? [background voice talking at the same time, might be saying “Watch out (unintelligible)”]

Background voice: You there.

Brandon: No I need the cops.

Dispatcher: Okay. Is anybody hurt? (pause) Hello? Hello? Hello?

Listen to the original version without any enhancements.

Listen to the full enhanced version.

A file containing only the isolated background segments.

A closer analysis of “there’s a guy”

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