My name is Edward Primeau and I have been an audio and video forensic expert for 34 years. I have worked on the Trayvon Martin case to determine whether the 911 tape showed that Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman was screaming. I also combined two audiotapes of Air Force One radio transmissions from the JFK assassination. I worked on the case of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, determining that the tapes had been edited.

AMA! I will be unable to comment on current cases and confidential information.

https://twitter.com/Ed_Primeau/status/1004102223750664192

Edit: Thank you all so much for your questions and banter! I apologize if it takes me a bit to get to your comment, I am typing as fast as I can and am currently working on several cases at the same time! I will however answer each and every question!

Edit: I am overwhelmed by the amount of responses I have received! I will be signing off for the evening but will answer any remaining questions in the morning! Thank you again.

Comments: 1746 • Responses: 83  • Date: 

Stranger19821037 karma

Hi Edward. Has there ever been a tape that managed to test the detachment you need to keep to do your job?

IronChefOfForensics1549 karma

Yes. Unfortunately I can't discuss it because it is confidential. I will say it is a recording of a murder play by play by a serial killer.

himalayansaltlick236 karma

Is seeing something like that different than, say, footage of an accident? I am just wondering if seeing the depths of human evil takes a great toll on you than, say, a plane crash––which might have more carnage but reveal far less about the dark side of humanity. Also, how do you cope?

IronChefOfForensics436 karma

After 34 years I have managed to leave my work at the office. Some say I'm thick skinned and tenderhearted. Video certainly adds an element that audio alone does not have.

47dniweR108 karma

Can you comment on if the suspect has been identified or arrested? Or if this was recent?

IronChefOfForensics361 karma

Yes, they are serving a triple life sentence. I cannot comment on the time, but they have been identified and are currently incarcerated.

marculiu712 karma

[deleted]

IronChefOfForensics1240 karma

Yes. The Air Force One audio tapes from the day JFK was assassinated.

AeroUp584 karma

Regardless of the changes that they made (I’m sure there are things we will never know) do you think that the changes they made were necessary to protect the people for, “the greater good”? Or, and I’ll just say it, was it a cover up of some sort?

IronChefOfForensics1006 karma

I believe it was both.

mizzoufball140 karma

what about the tapes was edited?

IronChefOfForensics424 karma

I don't know what was removed.

ChampionOfTheSunAhhh136 karma

Have you ever come across a case where someone attempted to add something in, rather than or in addition to removing something

IronChefOfForensics195 karma

All of the time!

ChunkierMilk31 karma

Was it like chunks of the timecode missing throughout conversations, or whole conversations removed?

In other words, are many small pieces missing or fewer, longer sections?

IronChefOfForensics105 karma

I do not know. All I can tell is that there are edits.

IronChefOfForensics297 karma

I think what's missing from the JFK Air Force recording has to do with decisions that government officials were making with regard to: not performing an autopsy in Texas, coordination with scheduling an autopsy when the plane returned, the autopsy was overseen by government officials instead of a 3rd party hospital.

Grecoair41 karma

What was being communicated by AF1 during the time of the assassination that needed your expertise?

IronChefOfForensics88 karma

The recording began with AF1 on its way to Japan, and that part of the AF1 recording was part of the audio that was given to me. Minutes before the assassination took place.

Icommentoncrap465 karma

In your 34 years of work, what it the weirdest or strangest thing you learned in your time?

IronChefOfForensics760 karma

Last year I worked on a case that involved a cockroach farm and employee theft of a patented process and the product that were cockroaches. We had surveillance video of an employee that worked for the company stealing out of the back door. My client recovered damages in a civil litigation.

Chack91990456 karma

How does one enter the field of video and audio forensics? sounds like an interesting career.

IronChefOfForensics602 karma

While having a degree in criminal justice or forensics is helpful, having knowledge of audio and digital software is important as well as having an unbiased viewpoint.

Chack91990196 karma

What kind of software is used in forensics? I'm assuming it's specialty and not the industry standards for audio and video

IronChefOfForensics340 karma

Two of my favorites are: Izatope RX and Omnivore made by Techsmith. A lot of our other programs are Adobe products with forensic plug ins.

Lunated94 karma

How do yoy feel about CEDAR? I took an audio restoration and forensics class at my university and loved what CEDAR could accomplish. Especially the cross latis filter. RX is pretty incredible too though.

IronChefOfForensics169 karma

I have never used it but I have heard good things about it. Technology is changing every day and I love hearing about programs that are helping forensic investigators. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I will check it out.

OneForMany56 karma

Do you have to pay that premium yearly fee?

IronChefOfForensics118 karma

Yes :(.

strelkatherocketdog345 karma

Hi Edward! How do you feel about crime dramas that incorporate your line of work into their plots? How accurate do they tend to be? For example, I watched Bones as a kid and they were always discovering crucial information by repairing and listening to recordings from broken cell phones and destroyed audio files. Is this realistic?

IronChefOfForensics499 karma

No, I call it "The Hollywood Effect". Special effects and creative script writing make for great drama in a fictional show.

NinjaRedditorAtWork333 karma

Knowing the stupidly unreal situations from TV/movies, what's the coolest actual "zoom and enhance" moment you've had from your career?

IronChefOfForensics683 karma

We had a client in LA who was a victim of a hit and run. He was towing a classic car and when the pickup truck rear ended him, his license plate left a mirror image impression on the trunk of the classic car. The client scent us a picture and we were able to enhance and recover the license plate number.

TerodacDyl326 karma

Since the majority of us can sense lies through a person's visual queues in combination with how they speak, what are some tips to detect a lie solely through an audio recording?

IronChefOfForensics645 karma

First off, Happy Cake Day!

There's no way to detect a lie solely by listening to a persons voice. There is no scientific measurement that I am aware of to detect a lie. Forensics is a scientific based activity.

shootblue51 karma

As someone with a low voice volume, I did a voice test with a local speech pathology program. They had a program that did analysis via mic/computer and it had some interesting ways to analyze the voice. Have you ever used anything like that?

IronChefOfForensics102 karma

No, in order to perform voice identification testing the speech needs to be audible and measurable. Low volume voice is nearly impossible to analyze forensically.

shootblue1 karma

So where does that put the CVSA?

IronChefOfForensics2 karma

What is CVSA?

mizzoufball322 karma

What did your work on the Trayvon Martin case reveal, that us common folk, never got to hear?

IronChefOfForensics527 karma

When I listened to the call Zimmerman made to the police, I can hear activity in the background that I believe would have helped the Trier of Fact. Unfortunately, this information was not revealed, and to this day it has not been released to the public.

housebird350182 karma

Is there a reason that you cant reveal NOW what it was that you heard?

IronChefOfForensics381 karma

In case it ever ends up back in trial. I believe this information would be helpful.

OEMcatballs94 karma

Double Jeopardy?

IronChefOfForensics271 karma

It would be a civil case.

karkovice175 karma

Just out of curiosity, do you know what reasoning was used to exclude the recording?

It doesn't seem like it would be heresay since it was the 911 call by the main suspect, with the victim possibly being heard in the background.

I would think that a 911 call involving the principals of the case would be pretty important piece of evidence to help the trier of fact reach a conclusion.

IronChefOfForensics107 karma

I did not watch the entire trial. I am not positive that the recordings were excluded. I am certain that the court did not have assistance analyzing either of the two critical recordings. The 911 call with the cries for help and the call Mr Zimmerman placed when he saw suspicious activity.

baphothustrianreform47 karma

Can you tell us more about the activity you heard, what you might have thought was going on?

IronChefOfForensics157 karma

I would rather not express my observations at this point, but if you go back and listen to the recordings yourself with headphones, you will hear background noise when Zimmerman is on the phone with police. Especially before the police say not to follow Trayvon.

ScubaSteve7886286 karma

What do you think actually happened on MH307?

IronChefOfForensics571 karma

I think something technical happened causing the plane to crash into the ocean. What I'm not sure of, is why the government never presented investigation results like the FAA would here in the US. I do know that the cockpit audio recordings that were released are not complete.

FarkCookies240 karma

What about this one: WorldViews MH370 experts think they’ve finally solved the mystery of the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight.

Summary:

“The thing that gets discussed the most is that at the point where the pilot turned the transponder off, that he depressurized the airplane, which would disable the passengers,” said Larry Vance, a veteran aircraft investigator from Canada. “He was killing himself. Unfortunately, he was killing everyone else onboard. And he did it deliberately.”

IronChefOfForensics275 karma

I'm not familiar with this portion of the story. It's a bit above my pay grade. Thank you for the article, I look forward to exploring it more in depth.

Maxwyfe123 karma

Is there anything in the unreleased recording that would lead one to believe anything other than a mechanical or technical defect occurred?

IronChefOfForensics232 karma

I would think that if the plane was in trouble, they would have tried to call someone for help. So, why is that missing?

Maxwyfe81 karma

That would depend on the nature of the technical or mechanical failure, wouldn't it?

IronChefOfForensics204 karma

I don't know, I am not a pilot. However if I were responsible for 200+ souls, and I thought my equipment was malfunctioning, the radio would be my best friend.

RajeevVindaloo46 karma

I think something technical happened causing the plane to crash into the ocean.

Is there something, in particular, in the audio evidence that leads you to this conclusion or is this opinion based mostly on other factors?

IronChefOfForensics117 karma

There are parts of the audio that are missing. The flight was x number of hours, but they have only released a portion of the audio. I was initially told that only the speaking parts of the communication were presented, but I was never able to examine the recording in its entirety.

splifs203 karma

Based on what you’ve seen, which conspiracy theories hold the most water and why?

IronChefOfForensics434 karma

That there were 2 shooters with JFK.

dolan9465200 karma

What are some things you found out on the Trayvon Martin case that aren’t very well known to the public?

IronChefOfForensics257 karma

When I listened to the call Zimmerman made to the police, I can hear activity in the background that I believe would have helped the Trier of Fact. Unfortunately, this information was not revealed, and to this day it has not been released to the public.

edelburg42 karma

Can you say what kind of activity and what you think it would have helped?

IronChefOfForensics121 karma

I believe the activity would have helped the Trier of Fact understand Mr. Zimmermans intentions just before the point in the recording where the police ask him not to follow Trayvon. If you listen closely to the recording or Mr. Zimmerman when he calls in to report the suspicious activity, you will hear sounds in the background like wind noise when he exits his vehicle and other activity that I would prefer not to divulge in case I am ever asked by a court.

Mitra-41 karma

How would this kind of information be hidden in a trial? If the prosecution knew of it, and it helped their case, they would've used it. If the prosecution knew of it, and it helped the defendant, they would have a rock solid obligation to disclose it to the defense, who would've used it.

Did it get found out after the trial?

IronChefOfForensics58 karma

I discovered these background sounds that helped me understand Mr Zimmermans activity when I was on the prosecutions witness list just before the Daubert hearing where sound experts were not allowed to testify.

LieutenantRedbeard36 karma

Why were sound experts not allowed to testify?

IronChefOfForensics64 karma

We were presented as Voice ID experts and speech is required in order to prove scientifically a positive or negative voice identification. There is no speaking or words in the cries for help. I believe the judge decided the tests could not be objective enough in her opinion.

Littleballofdurr30 karma

Is the noise you speak of present in the recordings widely available online and simply was suppressed in court? Or did you have access to 'special' recordings?

IronChefOfForensics38 karma

It is available online.

47dniweR170 karma

I know you can't comment on current cases, but do you think the audio of the suspects voice in the Delphi murders could be improved? That monster needs to be caught.

 

https://youtu.be/zreCDAquAsY

 

For anyone not familiar with the case. Some monster killed two 13 year old girls on a nature trail in a very small town, then vanished. The girls got audio and video of him, but it's been over a year, and there's been no real known progress.

 

https://www.indystar.com/story/news/2018/02/10/delphi-murders-heres-what-we-know-year-after-slayings-abby-and-libby/326442002/

IronChefOfForensics266 karma

I performed an analysis on these recordings and was unable to forensically enhance them for identification purposes.

AGallagher410164 karma

What is the creepiest piece of evidence that you've discovered that you can say?

IronChefOfForensics200 karma

Definitely the cockroaches.

Blucatt163 karma

Do you know anything that you'd have to kill us if you told us?

IronChefOfForensics221 karma

Yes.

sinnoso130 karma

Do you think you would make a good dance DJ?

IronChefOfForensics148 karma

Yes. I love music!

justanotherpartofme3130 karma

As an audio expert, whats your favorite kind of music ?

IronChefOfForensics252 karma

Classic rock!

CowboyTnT87122 karma

Wow that's fascinating, so who was screaming? Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman? Did you have to testify at the trial?

Do you mainly work in the court systems or do you work with private individuals too?

IronChefOfForensics275 karma

I believe the cries for help were Trayvon Martin. Because based on my experience, when I analyzed that audio recording from the night he was killed and then heard George Zimmermans voice, and there were only two people reported to be at the location, I believe the person crying for help was Trayvon Martin. You can view my entire analysis on our YouTube Channel, Primeau Forensics.

We do work for attorneys, law enforcement, the US Government and private clients.

1369311007117 karma

What do you think of Catalin Grigoras' papers and classes on the subject at UC Denver?

I went to it and found it interesting.

IronChefOfForensics161 karma

It's the best training institution in the world, that I know of, for continuing education in media forensics. Their masters program is the best.

Mainzerize111 karma

Thank you for this AmA. One question, how often do you find prove or evidence and people gently ask you to keep it to yourself?

IronChefOfForensics119 karma

All the time!

benbrockn94 karma

Have you ever been told to "not view a certain tape" or "don't ask these types of questions" during a certain court case, and what was the outcome?

IronChefOfForensics92 karma

I have not.

scousechris94 karma

Is it possible to reproduce audio when all you have is a picture of a waveform taken from a video?

IronChefOfForensics101 karma

Great question! It is not possible however.

FF389 karma

Do the emergence of new, neural net backed audio-visual signal faking techniques ("deep fakes" in the redditor parlance) worry you, or do you think detection techniques will keep pace with the emergence of deception technology?

IronChefOfForensics139 karma

I think that is job security!

CowboyTnT8787 karma

Do Citizens have the right to video tape police interactions with their cell phones?

IronChefOfForensics119 karma

Absolutely! Check you local laws. Citizens assist police officers when they create video recordings. Take a look at these videos for a more elaborate response:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veXhk8aqRPY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1Fkqgsz9ck

throwaway582934771 karma

What was your verdict on the Trayvon Martin case? Who was right/wrong, or screaming?

IronChefOfForensics124 karma

I believe Trayvon Martin was the one screaming. My full analysis of the recording can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpH8M6tATU4

ryanadanderson68 karma

I had a forensic psychology professor that worked on Jonbenet Ramsey case. Another group did analysis on the 911 recording which revealed some discrepancy between what the family said and what actually happened (a boy being awake when they said he was asleep).

How difficult is it to to work with 911 audio recordings like this that have old audio codecs as apposed to more modern recording technology?

IronChefOfForensics54 karma

It is not difficult at all because we have all of the equipment in our lab necessary to analyze older recordings as well as new ones.

TheVigilantEnt65 karma

Would you be willing to examine the RFK shooting tape for gunshot noises?

IronChefOfForensics89 karma

I've already performed this analysis and there are no gunshot noises that I could detect.

nesfor60 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! What does a typical day at work for you look like? And what’s the most fun you’ve had with your job/skills?

IronChefOfForensics85 karma

I travel a lot for cases and enjoy that. My typical day is answering questions, authenticating and enhancing evidence that is used in litigation and recovering evidence on site in order to establish a chain of custody.

maxToTheJ50 karma

Do you ever do any analysis what your detection rate and false positive rate ? Have a third party submit audio with known ground truth of varying known common types of distortion and seeing how often you miss classify or detect?

IronChefOfForensics89 karma

Yes, this is called vetting. I often have my work vetted by an internal or external expert with the same qualifications as I have.

CraftyWeeBuggar49 karma

Is the shirt a result of losing a bet? On a serious note though, what case is the most interesting, to you, that you have worked on? and why?

IronChefOfForensics124 karma

No, it's a retro shirt from the 60's that I found in Chicago at a flea market brand new!

The JFK Air Force One recordings because I was able to hear higher quality audio recordings and observe the parts in the recording that were edited. The day I received the tapes from General Clifton estate, I was able to scientifically determine sections included in this version that were not in the version released by the LBJ library in the early 70's. This was a scientific foundation of what an edit looked like in these recordings. I subsequently was able to identify several other places in this historic recording that were removed.

McJumbos46 karma

How did you get hired? Was it something that you were always interested in pursuing?

IronChefOfForensics74 karma

I had no idea that I would end up in this career. But, the FBI found me and I have been performing forensics ever since.

Direwolf20244 karma

What is the most difficult thing to do in forensic audio analysis?

IronChefOfForensics93 karma

Tell your client that you can't meet their expectations with an audio enhancement. People have audio recordings that will help their case, but the recording quality is too pore and cannot be forensically enhanced.

McJumbos44 karma

what is the most vivid memory you can recall from all your cases?

IronChefOfForensics95 karma

High speed police chase in St Louis that ended with a fatal shooting. The reason why is because we had access to OnStar recordings that we synchronized with police dash cam video and were able to scientifically determine the events as they occurred.

kingreaper50443 karma

What T.V. shows are the worst offenders of bending the reality of forensics and police/detective work, and which shows actually do a decent job of keeping it realistic?

IronChefOfForensics90 karma

CSI does a decent job of keeping it realistic. In the beginning, a mentor of mine, Tom Owen, was a consultant for their producers. His job was to review scripts and make corrections so the technology was more accurate and believable.

I don't watch these shows because they lack scientific processes when formulating their opinions and results.

tehbantho34 karma

Have you participated in the review of any of the recordings Amazon Echos are making of unwitting people?

IronChefOfForensics83 karma

I have not. However, I know people that put stickers over the camera of their laptops. I think when you buy technology like this, you have to believe on some level that it is operating when you're not asking it to operate. After all, it is technology that the average person does not understand.

p18431 karma

Do you feel like you’re there when you listen to something for a long time?

IronChefOfForensics47 karma

No. I look at recordings from a scientific perspective.

killer96396330 karma

What case resonated with you the most?

IronChefOfForensics60 karma

The shooting in St Louis, MO the night of a firefighters wedding. He was shot and killed by an off duty police officer.

Keysar_Soze25 karma

Have you seen the thermal video of the incident in WACO Texas that some claim shows muzzle flashes from during the fire that destroyed the complex?

IronChefOfForensics13 karma

No I have not.

ArcOfRuin24 karma

What was your favorite case? What’s the most interesting discovery you’ve made?

IronChefOfForensics95 karma

I performed an evidence recovery for a bus accident where the owner of the company had deleted the recording. I was able to recover it by creating a disc image. The video we recovered clearly showed the accident and the case settled the same week. This is both my favorite and most interesting.

benbrockn23 karma

Someone mentioned that it was LBJ that shot Kennedy and the "magic bullet" was really just LBJ shooting upwards toward Kennedy from a sewer/drainage hole that led to a nearby river where he made the perfect escape. What are your thoughts on this (if you've heard the story)?

IronChefOfForensics79 karma

What a vivid imagination! I suspect there will be all kinds of new theories around this assassination in years to come. I am of the opinion that there were two shooters.

Workdawg23 karma

Have you ever created a GUI interface in visual basic with the intent of tracking an IP address?

IronChefOfForensics18 karma

No. I am not a computer forensic expert. However I highly recommend Garrett Discoveries out of Illinois.

rdk6719 karma

What's your experience with the deliberate falsification of evidence? Is the software/techniques to seamlessly edit outpacing the ability of forensic experts to detect such edits?

IronChefOfForensics32 karma

I have a lot of experience with deliberate falsification of evidence. Some cases I discover the nature of the falsification quicker than others. It depends on the experts training and experience. Some may find it, some may not.

201507117 karma

Hi Edward what do you think about this voicemail posted in r/rbi a few weeks ago? Is it real or faked? https://www.reddit.com/r/RBI/comments/8h4zkg/discovered_terrifying_audio_from_an_old_voicemail/?utm_source=reddit-android

IronChefOfForensics22 karma

I have not seen this yet but will investigate it further!

wisewing17 karma

What do you think really happened in the office when George Costanzas left his briefcase behind? Were they lying?

IronChefOfForensics22 karma

I believe the attorneys knew the recorder was activated and it made for a great TV dramady.

dkwangchuck15 karma

How worried are you about prosecutors or investigators overstating the certainty of your findings? Like what happened with forensic hair analysis. For example, the findings of PCAST are very much at odds with public perception of how developed forensic science is. Is that troubling - that your work may be inappropriately used to convict someone?

IronChefOfForensics25 karma

I have never had a case where my work was used to inappropriately convict someone. It is not something that keeps me up at night.

i4ndy13 karma

When extracting data from mobile devices (such as cellphones), what software do you recommend? Do you also have experience with cellebrite?

IronChefOfForensics19 karma

I recommend Cellebrite, however I am not a cell phone forensic expert. I am qualified to extract audio and video files from cell phones. Cellebrite performs complete analysis with all data recorded.

bitchp1ease13 karma

Howdy!

What was the funniest thing you've ever heard /discovered in a recording?

IronChefOfForensics42 karma

A butt dial from a daughter to her mother. after forensic enhancement, I was able to prove the daughters allegations of rape were false. I cannot tell you what I heard, but let me tell you it was hysterical.

wanderinggal10 karma

If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to record it, does it make a sound?

IronChefOfForensics30 karma

Just because there was no one there to record it doesn't mean that there wasn't anybody there to hear it. There's a high degree of probability that a mass as large as a tree is not going to down in silence.

Elbynerual11 karma

I can answer that. I did sonar in the navy and on the first day of class the teacher said "For sound to exist that has to be a source, a medium, and a receiver. So the answer to a tree falling in the woods and nobody around is no. There's no receiver. There's no sound."

IronChefOfForensics42 karma

If you go back and re-read the question, it reads that no one was there to record it. It does not read that no one was there to observe and to hear.

SuicidalChair10 karma

Whats your opinion on those ghost shows where they record blank space for 10 minutes then play it back and you hear a "pshhhhh" and the host yells "PETER? HE SAID PETER!"

IronChefOfForensics21 karma

No comment.