The clues were all spelled out on paper - or misspelled, as the case may be.

Delaware County investigators, looking into allegations that signatures on nomination petitions for a district judge in Aston were forged, found an incorrectly spelled street name. They also found signatures from Neumann University students, who told them they never signed petitions.

Yesterday, the district attorney announced that David J. Murphy, 57, had been arrested and charged with forgery, tampering with records, identity theft, perjury, and other related charges.

Investigators determined that 64 signatures on his nominating petitions for the 2009 primary had been forged, said G. Michael Green, the district attorney.

In August, Murphy, a Republican who has been a district judge since 1991, allegedly told a witness that he had been concerned he did not have enough signatures to qualify as a candidate on the Democratic ticket and that he forged them, according to court documents.

It is a common practice for judicial candidates to appear on Democratic and Republican ballots. One hundred signatures are needed to be placed on the ballot as a candidate for district judge in Delaware County.

Murphy, who has been on paid leave from his $80,927 position since September while he was under investigation, was reelected to a six-year term in November by a 2-1 ratio.

Deborah West, 54, of Rose Valley, also has been charged with forgery, tampering with records, identity theft, criminal conspiracy, and related crimes in connection to the case.

In September, another witness told investigators that Murphy told him West also forged additional signatures on both Republican and Democratic petitions for his candidacy, according to court documents.

Handwriting samples from West and Murphy were analyzed and found to match numerous lines on the petitions, according to court documents.

The two were arraigned and each was released on $5,000 unsecured bail. The charges were filed on March 9.

Arthur T. Donato, Murphy's attorney on the criminal charges, said they would decide in the next few weeks how they would proceed.

Another lawyer for Murphy, James Schwartzman, said that Murphy would be deciding in "the next week" whether he would resign.

Murphy was a Democrat until 1994, when he switched his affiliation to Republican.

Contact staff writer Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149 or