Friday, November 16, 2012

Analysis: Baby Sabrina's Father

Here is an article from 2000.  As we revisit the case, what do you make of the answer given to Larry King?  Remember, we do not conclude anything on a single indicator, but look at an overview of a statement. 

Aisenberg failed polygraph, records say

By Times staff writers
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 3, 2000

TAMPA -- Marlene Aisenberg failed a polygraph test given by sheriff's investigators the day after she reported her 5-month-old daughter missing in 1997, according to papers prosecutors filed in federal court Tuesday.
The court filing contradicts public claims Aisenberg made about her test results shortly after Sabrina's disappearance.
Confirmation of the failed polygraph, which was reported by several television stations two years ago, was contained in a blistering denial by prosecutors that they had committed misconduct in obtaining an indictment of Aisenberg and her husband, Steven.
The couple is awaiting trial on charges they lied about the disappearance of their daughter, Sabrina, who has never been found.
The Aisenbergs say an intruder took the child from their Brandon home in the middle of the night. Prosecutors think the Aisenbergs know what happened to the child.
In a lengthy and detailed response, prosecutors rejected defense attorneys' claims that they manipulated the grand jury and leaked information.

From the CNN Larry King Show, where the father was asked,

                                                "What happened?"

STEVE AISENBERG, FATHER OF MISSING CHILD:   Well, basically, we woke up one morning and Marlene noticed that Sabrina was missing. She screamed. I came, and we saw that she wasn't there. We quickly called 911, as we thought we should do to get the police over to help us find our daughter.
And then shortly after that, the police were sitting across from Marlene, accusing her of having something to do with our daughter's disappearance.

The following is the statement, with analysis following in bold type.  The underlining is added for emphasis.   

Wellbasically, we woke up one morning and Marlene noticed that Sabrina was missing. She screamed. I came, and we saw that she wasn't there. We quickly called 911, as we thought we should do to get the police over to help us find our daughter.
And then shortly after that, the police were sitting across from Marlene, accusing her of having something to do with our daughter's disappearance.

1.  "Well" is a pause indicating a need to collect his thoughts.  The answer should be immediate since the adrenaline flow during an emergency puts the subject into "excited utterance" mode.  This pause shows sensitivity and the next word confirms it:

2.  "Basically" tells us that there is more information that he is thinking of, but withholding. 
3.  "we woke up" uses the plural "we", which weakens the statement.  He should be speaking for himself, which he does, using the "I" in the same answer.  We find the pronoun, "we" used in places where "I" is appropriate as a possible signal of desire to share guilt.  

4.  "one morning" is used as in story telling. 

5.  "noticed" is a casual word, and does not fit the account of a missing child.

6.  "She screamed" is a very short sentence, which indicates emotion.  

7.  "I came, and we saw" shows that he does speak for himself ("I") but then reports what "we" saw; this indicates a heavy reliance upon the "we", which in a missing child case is very unexpected. 

To both a father and a mother, a missing child is highly personal ('up close/personal') with heavy emotional impact upon the person.  The use of the casual "noticed" as happenstance followed by "scream" sounds like a poorly constructed story and not that which comes from experiential memory for a parent.  

The parent of a missing child is, very personally, impacted, and we expect to hear "I" in the statement regularly, even when both are together, speaking as one.  The reader looks for the sentence to go smoothly, with a 'feel' that it is genuine, and not rehearsed.  That is not how this answer reads. 

 "We saw":  the subject should tell us what he saw, with his eyes, and not speak for her eyes. 

Would you just "notice" your child is gone?  It is soft language and not realistically connected to the trauma of a missing child.  It is artificial. 

"we quickly" uses not only the weakened "we" (one person dialed the police, not "we") but the addition of the word "quickly", as an unnecessary word, is artificial.

No one would think to add this word unless they had felt it necessary to convince others that they did not delay calling 911 to report a missing child.  

" My child wasn't there and I called 911" is straight forward.  Why would he feel the need to report that when he saw his child missing he didn't delay to call 911?

First:  he does not say he learned that his child was missing.  In Analysis, if the subject doesn't tell us so, we cannot say it.  He says "we saw" and "we called" and "quickly":  there are too many indicators of weakness in this one sentence to deem it coming from experiential memory. 

"We quickly called 911" does not tell us which person called 911.  This indicates sensitivity (via avoidance) of the 911 call, making the 911 call important to the subject and to us. 

8.  "as we thought we should do" is sensitive since it shows the reason why something was done.  

Note that he knows what his wife was thinking by use of the word "we"

Please note that the word "we" can be used when guilt is felt, as the guilty party has a need to share or 'spread around' the guilt, lessening its impact.  (Dillingham)

Question:  Why would anyone need to say that "we thought" we should call 911 when their child is missing?

Answer  This indicates  that there was likely a strong argument about calling 911.  One may have thought one way, while the other thought another way, but eventually they came together with their thinking and decided to call 911.  Why would anyone even debate calling 911?  Why the need to show that they both thought to call 911?  This was an argument between them. 

"to get the police over to help us"

Please note that the research of Dr. Susan Adams' of domestic homicide 911 calls show that the guilty caller will not ask for help specifically for the victim, but will often ask for help for himself, the caller.  This highlights the psychological need that the guilty party has for "help"

"to" help indicates sensitivity as the subject has the need to explain why the police were needed.  There should be no sensitivity as to calling the police.  By explain the "why" of calling police, it further highlights that they did not, initially, agree to call police, at least, at that time.  Did one party feel the need to delay the call?  This is the likely argument that took place. 

9.  "our daughter" is unusual, but continues the theme of "we" above; sharing responsibility. 

10.  "And then shortly after that" is the "temporal lacunae" of jumping over time, repeatedly:

a.  "And"   When a sentence begins with the word, "And" it is an indicator of missing information.   
b.  "And then" skips over time.  When time is skipped over, it is considered sensitive and follow up interviews will focus upon this time period.  We have the sentence beginning with missing information, and the time period is skipped over. 
c.  "shortly after that" is a needless and second 'temporal lacuane' making this period of time highly sensitive, with deliberately withheld critical information about what happened, or was said, during that time period.  

11.  "sitting"   When body posture enters the subject's statement, it is an increase in tension.  

The subject went from calling the police right to the police "sitting" accusing Marlene.  

This is a large portion of missing information. 

Based upon the single answer to the question, "What happened?", there is enough in this short answer to indicate deception via missing information on the part of the subject. 

Please note that in order to be deceptive, it must be a deliberate act of will on the part of the subject. 


John Mc Gowan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Mc Gowan said...

Peter could you take a look at this please i think you may find it interesting.

Dave Lee Travis Arrest: DJ Denies Wrongdoing
DJ Dave Lee Travis is taken off air but denies wrongdoing after his arrest by police investigating the Savile sex abuse claims.2:21pm UK, Friday 16 November 2012
Dave Lee Travis talks to the media after his arrest

DJ Dave Lee Travis has denied any wrongdoing after being arrested by police investigating the Jimmy Savile sex abuse claims.

Speaking outside his home near Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, the 67-year-old protested his innocence and said he did not want his name associated with "bloody evil" child abuse.

He said: "This is nothing to do with kids, all right? That's the first thing. Because that to me is the most important thing in the world and I do not wish to have my name sullied around something that bloody evil, to be honest.

"The second thing I want is to say, yes, there's a complete denial there, but there's nothing else I can tell you because otherwise I might be stepping on the police's feet and I don't want to do that because it might affect their investigations."

He added: "There's one very important point I want to get across here - when I read the papers this morning I could not believe it.It was like, you know, 'DLT caught in Savile probe' and all this.

Burmese pro-democracy Aung San Suu Kyi listened to DLT's World Service show
"I'm going to make one thing extremely clear to you, and I'd be really obliged if you all make sure that this gets into your articles and gets on to the television and you don't leave this bit out - the Savile probe is nothing to do with things I've been talking to the police about.

"So let's get down to brass tacks here - the first thing is I've been talking to the police about sexual... I can't even remember what the word is now - in the old days it was called 'putting your arm around somebody and giving them a cuddle' but nowadays God knows.

"But anyway, I was accused quote of squeezing the boobs of a couple of women. So the point I want to make here is that none of the things I've been talking to the police about, or have talked to them about, is to do with children.

"I want this completely clear. My name appeared in the paper this morning ... alongside Gary Glitter and Jimmy Savile, so that's not on."

He added: "If you'd like to actually put in your papers that Dave Lee Travis categorically denies that there was anything... oh, that's the problem you see,as soon as you deny something, oh, there must be something to deny.

"Yes, there's an ongoing police investigation about me and two grown women, all right? And this has to be completely clear with all of you.

Continued below.

John Mc Gowan said...

"Any talk about children is, it's just insensing, all right? I am and always have been completely abhorred by anything to do with children and anything to do with child molestation and anything like that.

"I don't really want to be in a headline where people look and see Savile's name and see my name and think: 'Oh God, is he at it as well?' Not true, all right? You have a categorical denial about children. That is absolutely set in concrete, I promise you."

He went on: "It's a story, it's a big story. But you know, I'm saying I do not wish to be sucked into anything that is talking about paedophilia and that, and this is not just me protesting too much, trust me.

"I've actually said, and if you look into the archives you might find that on my radio shows in the past when there's been a paedophile case, I've said: 'Well, hey, instead of putting them in jail and doing this, send them round to my place and I'll sort them out'. That's how strongly I feel."

He continued: "I think that sometimes, you know, us guys who are a bit older, who are, shall we say, tactile, which is not a terrible thing to be, in the old days you put your arm around somebody and gave them a little kiss or a cuddle.

"Yeah, that's fine. But nowadays, you know, you'd have to stop and think: 'Is this an assault?'

"Now, I'm not saying that I haven't put my arms round people or anything like that, and I'm not saying that any of this is right or wrong at the moment, but I'm just trying to get the facts out."

His comments came after his weekend radio show was taken off air "with immediate effect" by Magic AM following his arrest on Thursday

Lis said...

I am curious, in an example like this, how much time affects the statement? The incident happened 3 years before, and the person most likely has told the story many times to many persons. They may have been asked the same questions so many times that they are anticipating what is going to be asked, and therefore work the answers into their statement as they go along. Is that going to affect the ability to use SA principles on their statement?

Also at this point in time, wouldn't it be natural for the person to place their emotions and reasons into the right place in the story, since they have processed the emotions and now can integrate them into the time slots where they happened?

Lis said...

OT re: John's post- I'd love to see that quote analyzed as well.

It seems like DLT's statement is full of sensitivity, but then, if an innocent person is accused of pedophilia, in the news media, couldn't that make them awfully sensitive? Doth he protest too much?

Statement Analysis Blog said...


Sensitivity indicators are about language, not emotion. When I asked, for example, the father of Hailey Dunn if he had killed her, the topic could not be any more sensitive, especially since, at that time, he still had hope she was alive.

His answer was without sensitivity indicators, even as he was heart broken.

"I didn't kill her." came easily for him, in language, even as his heart was inflamed with sensitive information.

I am off today and am posting away@!


Lis said...

Thanks, Peter, for the answer! I see what you are saying.