Friday, November 5, 2004

James Dibowski helped to solve federal crimes

By Rebecca Goodman
Enquirer staff writer

MONFORT HEIGHTS - James Richard Dibowski, a handwriting expert who worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 27 years and worked on the Pete Rose gambling case, died Oct. 24 at his home. He was 93.

Mr. Dibowski was director of the identification laboratory of the U.S. Postal Service's department of examiners. He was involved in cases concerning mail fraud, mailing of pornographic materials, check and money order forgeries, and post office burglaries and thefts. He testified on behalf of the federal government in courtrooms from coast to coast.

He continued to serve as an expert witness after his retirement in 1976. Over 40 years, Mr. Dibowski worked on more than 600 cases in 23 states, including the Alton Coleman murder trial in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

In the Pete Rose case, Mr. Dibowski was hired to examine and identify handwriting on betting sheets and notebooks that were in evidence.

He told the Enquirer in 1984 that his toughest case was in 1968 when he was asked to examine 14,000 writing and printing samples to solve a restaurant-bombing case in Marshall, Mich. One of the owners of the restaurant was killed. Mr. Dibowski determined from fragments of the packaging that the bomb had been mailed in Marshall.

He spent hours comparing writing from another package, which contained pain pills laced with lye that had been received by the restaurant owner, with samples from mental hospitals, employer record files and voter registrations from Marshall. He made a positive identification of the writing of the killer, who was convicted.

In 1976, Hamilton County Prosecutor Simon Leis Jr. named him an "honorary prosecutor" in recognition of his work for the county.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Mr. Dibowski was a popular speaker around Greater Cincinnati, delivering presentations called "Beware of Your Handwriting" and "Poison Pen."

Mr. Dibowski was a member of the Forensic Science Fraternity.

His wife, Florence Amy Troescher Dibowski, died in 2001.

Survivors include two sons, James R. Dibowski of Fairfield and Donald G. Dibowski of Delhi Township; a sister, Grace Daggy of Lockland; and two grandsons.

Services have been held. Entombment was at Spring Grove Cemetery.

Memorials: Shriners Hospital-Cincinnati, 3229 Burnet Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45229-3095.


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