“Nothing But the Truth”
My Life in Forensics
How a childhood Rock City dream led to a career in
Production and in Turn a Forensics Empire.
by Edward Primeau, CCI, CFC, PI
I have a boutique career, one that was not apparent to me when I started my professional life after high school. Audio forensics analysis didn’t even become a thing until the capability to record sounds outside of a recording studio became possible. And it wasn’t until the 1950s that portable recorders utilizing magnetic tape became available. So, while I was growing up, audio forensics was but a fledgling field that I, and most others, hadn’t even registered, let alone considered as a career option.
I describe my occupation today as a digital media forensic expert. Sounds fascinating, right? Well, it is. I absolutely love my job! Primeau Forensics investigates cases involving forensic enhancement, authentication and analysis, identification, and our newest technologies, reverse projection, and 3D laser scanning. Our company processes over 600 investigations a year. We work with attorneys, law enforcement, government, and citizens in need of finding the truth. I have been on the witness list of some high-profile cases like George Zimmerman, The Indiana Pacers, and JonBenet Ramsey. Every day is different, a new adventure. My team and I help solve some of the biggest cases this country has seen.
My goal in writing this book is to share my story of how I turned a lifelong passion for music and fiddling with audio equipment into a thriving business empire, hopefully educating, entertaining, and inspiring you along the way. Forensics is a fascinating field and I look forward to passing along some of my vast knowledge on the subject to you. And with delight, I will tell you true tales of brushes with fame and fate that my career path has led me through along the way. I have had the opportunity to work with dozens of famous individuals in various fields over the years. Some, I even happily call friends to this day. Life truly is more magical than fiction.
This book you are holding wasn’t initially going to be titled “Nothing But the Truth.” For several years as I worked on the manuscript, it bore the working title of “Blindspot.” One of the reasons I had planned on the title “Blindspot” is because of its definition. “An area where a person’s view is obstructed.” So, the title was fitting from a forensic perspective because I help lawyers, judges, and juries better see and hear events as they originally occurred, essentially by removing obstructions to doing so. I forensically enhance video recordings like surveillance systems, police body cameras, dash cameras, and Good Samaritan video recordings to name a few. I also forensically enhance audio recordings like 911 calls for help, and concealed recordings in one-party states. *
*[There are 1 and 2-party consent states for confidential recordings.]
The other reason I had picked the title “Blindspot” relates to one of those celebrity friends I had the privilege of working with along the way, infamous Hollywood screenwriter and producer, Barry L. Levy. One of Barry’s best-known works, to date, is the screenplay for the film “Vantage Point” starring Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana, and many other well-known Hollywood names.
I met Barry after I forensically enhanced and combined the audio recordings from one of the most studied and storied crimes of all time, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The recordings were from Air Force One the day JFK was assassinated. I say recordings, plural because there were two versions. The first was released in the early ’70s by the LBJ Presidential Library. The second was discovered in 2011 as part of the estate of Army Major General Chester “Ted” Clifton, Jr. who joined the Kennedy Staff in 1961, serving as the Senior Military Adie to the President, and was responsible for the President’s daily morning intelligence briefings on world events. Can you imagine? He was in the motorcade the day JFK was assassinated. He handled the arrangements with the White House regarding military and national security matters after the assassination and later received the recordings of the Air Force One phone calls from the White House Communications Agency (WHCA). He was also a huge Kennedy supporter and had his reasons for not disclosing the tapes while he was still alive.
The work Primeau Forensics did on the JFK case was widely covered in the media, including a front-page feature in the Sunday Detroit Free Press (see photos in the center of the book), and caught Barry’s attention and creative curiosity. He was intrigued with the field of forensics and my story and asked to meet with me to discuss the possibility of developing a television series based on my life in audio and video forensics. The concept for the show was to highlight the world of forensics as it reveals the truth about an event using video as a silent witness. Using forensic enhancement, an expert like me can follow processes in a lab and reveal activity not seen or heard before the enhancement. This process is very helpful to an investigation that involves recorded media. “Blindspot” was his genius name idea for that potential series. Over the 2013-2014 calendar year, we met once a week, Wednesdays at 5, and had a conversation about the cases I was working on. Only nondescript conversations about the general nature of my investigations of course, where no confidential information was ever shared. My commitment to confidentiality when it is called for is iron-clad.
Based on our conversations, Barry developed a series proposal that he shopped with NBC Universal, The Mark Gordon Company, and Working Title Films. The network passed on the idea at the time and therefore the title was available for another project to acquire because that’s how Hollywood works. As soon as the show was declined, someone took that title and birthed the TV series “Blindspot,” an FBI psychological thriller that aired for five seasons on NBC from 2015 to 2020. No great idea, or series name, goes unused in Hollywood.
So Blindspot could have been an appropriate and meaningful title. However, as often happens in life, an experience triggered a new line of thought and insight into the work I do in forensics. The uncovering of the “blindspot” is technically what I do for many cases that I work on, whether it is about which dog started the dogfight, or a murder trial. But when it comes down to it, it is the fact that people TRUST that what I attest to is the TRUTH. Very recently I was supposed to appear in court as a witness for a murder trial. My lovely girlfriend, Jean, and I had taken a quick trip to Chicago in order to see my daughter, Alyssa, perform in her final concert of the season with the Chicago Civic Orchestra (yes, I know, that is amazing! Allysa, as well as my other kids, are all incredibly talented and ambitious. I am one proud Dad, who figures he must have done at least a few things right). We had only just returned to Northeast Michigan where Jean lives before I heard from the attorney on the case that instead of needing me downstate in two days for the trial, they wanted me there the next day. Jean, bless her heart, had come down with a nasty cold during our trip and not wanting to keep me up all night before I had a court appearance, chose to sleep on the couch. I rose early and headed toward Muskegon for the court appearance. As many times as I have testified to date, which is around 70, I still felt the gravity of the occasion each and every time. And sometimes even more so, such as in this case, which was a murder trial. The outcome would have a huge impact on the life of the accused and also on the lives of the families and loved ones of all involved. Each time I appear as a witness in court, I am required to affirm that I will honor the oath “Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you, God.” I was mentally preparing myself to go into court and present the truth as I discovered it to be in the video evidence of the murder. However, when I got to the courthouse, the attorney I was a witness for informed me that I wouldn’t need to testify on the stand. Both sides had stipulated the facts that I had presented in my analysis of the video of the murder that had been captured by a security camera.
In legal terms, “Stipulation of Facts” is “An agreement between the parties to a lawsuit. For example, if the parties enter into a stipulation of facts, neither party will have to prove those facts: The stipulation will be presented to the jury, who will be told to accept them as undisputed evidence in the case.” Definition from www.law.cornelledu.
Even without me testifying on the stand, my forensic analysis was accepted as TRUTH by both sides in the case. This is a point of great satisfaction for me at this point in my career. My reputation and expertise is accepted as truth, without question, even by the attorney defending an alleged murderer. My dedication to uncovering “Nothing but the truth” has been acknowledged and validated by attorneys and judges around the country at this point.
As I reflected on this experience and also on the ongoing editing of this book, I had the idea to name the book “I Solemnly Swear.” Jean, ever-creative and helpful, suggested that “Nothing But the Truth” might fit better, and was also easier to say than the word “solemnly,” which is rather a a heavy word to verbalize and process. And here you are, holding “Nothing But the Truth” in your hands, rather than “Blindspot.”
The term “blindspot” still works as a metaphor for my life though, and as a good reference point in my story. As I mentioned earlier, the term refers to an obstruction, something preventing the viewer of an event from clearly seeing what is happening. I never saw my career coming, since I didn’t even know to look for the potential of it within the scope of my early career in music production and audio technology. You could say I was blind-sighted. That is until the FBI came knocking, asking for help with a case, eliminating that blindspot, and setting me on a tangential path that would alter my life and career forever. I’ll tell you more about all that later.
But before I get to that story, let me take you back to where it all began. My father was also an Edward, so I received the diminutive moniker of Little Eddie. This tale begins with me, Little Eddie, tinkering with a hand-me-down record player in 1963 at my childhood home, 15091 Mayfied St. Detroit, Michigan. The house is gone now, but the memories live strong.
This book is in production and has not yet been released
In addition to EdPrimeau.com, Ed writes for the following blogs:
Ed has been on many television shows like The Final Minutes of Flight 93, 20/20 Jon Benet Ramsey, and news networks like Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. He has been published in Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and New York Times.