Ryan Widmer was convicted of killing his new wife. After spending 5 months in jail, he was granted a new trial after it was learned that jurors did home experiments with their own bath tubs, against the judge's order. The 2nd trial ended in a deadlocked jury, and the 3rd trial ended with a guilty verdict.
Here we view statements for truth or deception. We will look first at his 911 call, and then at his words in addressing the court after his first conviction.
We have specific guidelines to follow in 911 calls of a death in the home. The transcripts are from freeryanwidmer.com website and have commentary removed.
We have a checklist for red flags for the possibility of a guilty caller. No one single detail should make a conclusion, though some points are more weighty than others. Please see prior analysis on the 911 call of Misty Croslin, as well as "Statement Analysis 101" and "911 Calls Analyzed" links:
In addition to the points below, we follow the same principles of Statement Analysis within the language itself.
1. Does the call begin with a greeting? Given the nature of an emergency , a call that begins with "hello" or "hi" or anything similar, is a red flag that the caller is a guilty caller in a homicide.
2. Does the caller ask for specific help for the victim?
3. Does the caller say, at anytime, for any reason, "I'm sorry"
4. Order shows priority. What is the priority of the caller?
5. Does the caller ask for help for himself or herself instead of the victim?
6. Does the caller disparage the victim, even in a subtle manner?
7. Does the caller attempt to build an alibi anywhere in the call?
8. Does the caller seek to explain 'why' something has happened when he/she should be reporting what happened?
Dispatcher: 911 What is your emergency?
This question is open ended, and is the most important question for analysis. The answer is often telling. Ryan: "My wife fell asleep in the bathtub and I think she's dead"
Please note that this is a conclusion and not a sentence asking for help, such as, "my wife is unconscious". Here, the caller gives his opinion on what happened to her rather than simply call for assistance. How does Ryan know that his wife fell asleep? How does he know she did not pass out, or simply report it as being unconscious or a mystery?
Note the order as order shows priority.
1. Wife fell asleep
2. I think she is dead
We look for a request for specific assistance by the caller.
Dispatcher: What's the address? Ryan: 5250 Crested Owl Court Morrow, OH Dispatcher: Okay I need you to calm down for me..I can't understand the address, what was it?
Please note: we do not analyze Ryan Widmar, nor his voice inflection, nor his emotions. For the Statement Analyst, the "subject is dead" to us, while his statement is "alive" to us. I recognize that this principle is difficult to follow at times, but it is the words by which we learn the truth. There are many sociopaths who are amazing in their ability to cry, or carry on emotionally.
I write this but recognize how inflammatory the laughing of Sergio Celis was on his 911 call reporting a "missing person", his 7 year old daughter, Isabel.
Still, the principle should be followed. Listen to his words, not how he delivers them.
Body language and voice analysis have their places, but this is for analysis only of the words used. Ryan: 5250 Crested Owl Court Dispatcher: 5250 Crested Owl? in Hamilton Township? Ryan: Yes, Morrow, Ohio Dispatcher: Now what's going on? Ryan: "She fell asleep in the bathtub I think....I was downstairs, I just came up here and she was laying face down in the bathtub.
Note next that he repeats that she fell asleep rather than anything else, including passed out, or just that she is unconscious and it remains a mystery.
Note the order which shows priority:
1. She fell asleep rather than she is not breathing, etc.
2. I was downstairs
3. I just came up here" is an unnecessary connection, which is extremely sensitive.
4. She was lying facedown in the bathtub.
Note the importance of speaking of where he was; his location.
Recall: excited utterance and in this, he has the need to tell the operator his location. This is sensitive and critical
Regarding an "unnecessary connection", the teaching is that this is an indication of sensitivity and likely of missing information. Here is an example:
"I was in the bathroom. I left the bathroom and went to the kitchen" is an example of an unnecessary connection. In order to go from the bathroom to the kitchen, one must leave. There is no apparent reason to say this. By adding in these words, it is an indication that it is of such importance to the subject that he is leaving out what happened between the leaving of one room and the entering of another. Crimes have been solved by this single principle and it is where investigators focus their questions. It is unnecessary to add in that one "left".
In the 911 call, the words "I just came up here" are highly sensitive and is an indication that something happened that is not included here.
Note here he adds "I think" which was not part of "she fell asleep" when he first called. "I think" reduces commitment. Dispatcher: In the water? Ryan: Yes Dispatcher: How old is she? Ryan: She's 24 Dispatcher: And she's in the bathtub? Ryan: Yes, she's in....the water's draining right now....I tried to do everything I could I..... (1:00)
Note that a sentence that is broken is an indication of missing information.
Note the topic of the water draining out is important enough to the subject to tell the 911 operator.
Note that "tried" in the past tense, often indicates attempt and failure.
Why the need at the 1:00 mark to report "the water's draining"?
Please note "the water's draining" is passive. He did not say "I am draining the water". Dispatcher: Have you taken her out of the water now? RYan: Yes the water's completely drained but she's just laying here unconscious....
Please note that the question is answered with "yes" (he took her out) but then offers the additional information, seconds later, that the water is "completely" drained out. Why the need to report about the lack of water? How could the water go from draining to completely drained in a matter of seconds?
Note that he uses the body posture in his response. She would not be expected to be anything other than laying. Dispatcher: So she's still in the bathtub? Ryan: Yes, Yes,
If you found your unconscious wife in the bathtub, would you leave her in it? Please note the time pace. Dispatcher: Okay Okay. So...what...you drained the water out of the tub? (1:15) Ryan: Yes Dispatcher: How long was she in the bathtub? (1:23) Ryan: I....I...I have....15 minutes to a half hour...somewhere in there...I was downstairs watching TV...she falls asleep in the tub all the time but....
Repeated stuttering on the pronoun "I" is a signal of anxiety if the subject is not a stutterer. By his other words, he does not appear to be a stutterer.
Please note that "she falls asleep in the tub all the time" may be a slight disparagement or explanation rather than a cry for help. Dispatcher: And how are you related to her? uh...Are you her mother?....er Ryan: I'm her...I'm her husband... Dispatcher: Husband? Ryan: Yes Dispatcher: What's your name? Ryan: Ryan Widmer Dispatcher: Spell that last name for me Ryan Ryan: W-I-D-M-E-R Dispatcher: Have you tried CPR? Ryan: Yes....as much as I could....what little bit I know..
Please note that "as much as I could" signals that he was limited in what CPR he could do. This could be due to anything from limitation by knowledge, or limited by his goal of homicide. Here, he explains why he was limited. Please note that this is similar to "so, since, therefore, because" as a reason to explain why, rather than report what has happened. "...what little bit I know" explains why, making CPR sensitive. Ryan: Is somebody coming? (2:23)
We note that this is not a call for specific help for the victim. Dispatcher: Yeah, they're on the way Ryan...There's no way you can get her out of the bathtub? Ryan: I can try but I have to set the phone down.. Dispatcher: Go and get her out of the bathtub and get her on a flat surface.
It is difficult to think that a young husband would allow his seemingly dead wife remaining in the bathtub and would need the 911 operator to instruct him to take her out. Ryan: Okay, Okay.....I'm dropping the phone (Sound of phone being put down) (2:39) Ryan: She's on a flat surface.
(3:10) Dispatcher: What's that? Ryan: She's on a flat surface....
She's on a "flat surface" is reflective language, which is expected. Dispatcher: Okay, go ahead and get back to doing CPR....try to do CPR They'll be there in a little bit, okay? Ryan: K Dispatcher: Is your....is your doors unlocked? Ryan: No Dispatcher: Are you using....Okay Run and unlock the doors so when they....they can get in....when they come back Ryan: okay they're unlocked now.. Dispatcher: Okay Ryan: We're.....I'm upstairs..
This is a broken sentence and means that there is missing information. Initially Ryan intends to report where he and his wife are, then changes his speech to reflect that he is upstairs. Dispatcher: You're upstairs? (3:39) Ryan: Yeah Dispatcher: You have more than one bathroom in the house?....er Ryan: No, there's two but the upstairs is the only one with a bathtub (4:02) Dispatcher: Ry...Ryan put the phone down and try CPR for me? Ryan: Okay....Come on baby...come on.....
"baby" is a term of endearment (4:27) Silence..... Tape ends 5:52 Ryan's cell phone shows call was almost 7 minutes before his cell phone hung up
There are enough red flags in this call that indicate that he withheld critical information in the call. The red flags in the call indicate that an investigation was warranted.
Next: Ryan Widmer addresses the court after the initial guilty verdict.