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83 words and 20 questions: The mysterious suicide note in the Jocelyn Branham Earnest case

Jocelyn and Wesley Earnest

Jocelyn Earnest's suicide note
CBS

(CBS) - The note investigators discovered near Jocelyn Earnest's front door seemed, at first, like a suicide note. It was addressed to "Mom" and made reference to debt, her husband Wesley Earnest, and problems with a "new love."

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But investigators were suspicious about the note for several reasons. It was face down when they first discovered it and it was typed. According to investigators, most people who leave a suicide note leave a handwritten note. The words in the note, authorities say, also seemed generic, not personal.

The note was analyzed by handwriting experts who had examined Jocelyn's journals. The experts concluded the writing style in the suicide note was completely different from the style of Jocelyn's writings in her journals.

Jocelyn had 17 spiral notebooks she used as journals. Each entry was handwritten. She poured her heart and soul into the pages of those notebooks. She was a prolific writer who loved the pen and paper.

Authorities believe Wesley Earnest, with whom she was in the process of getting a divorce, crafted the note. He had assumed her identity in the past by breaking into her home and writing on a timeline she had been keeping for her therapist. Wesley Earnest, they believe, made up the entry about the "new love." It was just something, they say, he put in the note to throw investigators off track.

According to her sister Laura Rogers, Jocelyn would never, ever write a suicide note and take her own life. She was happy, says Rogers, and moving on with her life without husband Wesley Earnest.

Investigators also found unplugged computer printers in Jocelyn's home, which they determined had not been used in a long time.

And the location of the note was puzzling. Why was it on the floor near the front door? Authorities believe it was left there intentionally as part of the staged crime scene. Perhaps the note was an afterthought? No one really knows. What investigators do know is the two fingerprints found on the note matching Wesley Earnest were key to his arrest and his conviction for murdering Jocelyn Branham Earnest.

Earnest maintains his innocence.

Reporting by Marcie Spencer, 48 Hours Mystery producer

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