Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Man Mistakes Sign Language for Gang Signs — Stabs Deaf Man

Top left: sign for letter F; bottom left: Crips gang sign; right: Robert Neal.

Top left: sign for letter F; bottom left: Crips gang sign; right: Robert Neal.

In a case that has left investigators scratching their heads, Robert Jarell Neal, 22, of Burlington, N.C., has been arrested for stabbing a deaf man. Police believe that Neal misinterpreted sign language for gang signs, but this is just a theory at this point and in no way constitutes an excuse.

According to Burlington Police Sgt. Mark Yancey, Terrance Ervin Daniels, 45, was walking down the street signing with a friend at around 5 p.m. on January 9, 2013, when Neal allegedly saw the exchange and stabbed Daniels several times with a kitchen knife.

As a visual aid, the sign for the letter F is shown in the photo at top left. The photo on the bottom left shows the Crips gang sign. Click it for a magnified view. Depending on the neighborhood, one might find Neal’s confusion more understandable, though when it came to handling the perceived situation, he chose poorly. Lucky for him his victim survived and is reported in stable condition.

Neal has been charged with felony assault on a handicapped person and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. He is being held under a $500,000 secured bond in the Alamance County Detention Facility. His criminal record includes three assaults on a female, assault with intent to kill, two communicating threats, DWI, injury to real property, injury to personal property and two resist, delay or obstruction of officers.

As the investigation continues police are reaching out to the community for more information about the attack. Anyone with further information is urged to call them at (336) 229-3500.

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