Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Genius of Simplicity in Analysis

After years of study, and thousands of interviews, it still causes me to pause when I consider the findings and research of Avinoam Sapir from LSI.

Last night, Heather and I were discussing this very thing:  the moments of pause we have in considering the accuracy of analysis in the simplest of matters.   She said that this past Fall, a "light bulb" went off as she was listening to a lecture I was giving investigators on the word "left."  We both agreed, with much discussion, that it is simplistic genius that was able to observe, listen, observe, and then begin research, into some of these principles.

I.  Left

Regarding the word "left";

Some people go to the store.

"I went to Sears."

Some people leave to go to the store.

"I left my house and went to Sears."

Both end up at the store, but for the second person's statement, the location from which he departed, is what is on his mind.  He felt the need, in less than a second, to use the additional words, "left my house and" in his sentence.  It takes more effort and the subject is not saying the same thing as the first subject, but this is not something generally picked up without training.

People use the word "left" as a means of mentioning the place where their mind is.  It is like a way to get that place into a sentence.

First, this had to be observed, and then it had to be contemplated. Most of us do not get past the first:  we don't listen enough to even hear that the person "left" to go to the store.

Secondly, it had to be contemplated.  Why, in the law of economy of sentences, did the person feel the need to add in that they left first, since one cannot get to Sears without leaving?  In that the subject felt the need to mention the place departed from, LSI learned something both simple and brilliant:

There is a story missing.

There is information, within the subject, regarding the departure, that is being 'telegraphed' by the word "left" (or 'departed') yet is not spoken.  This is why the therapist, journalist, or investigator allows the subject to continue, highlighting the word "left" and asking follow up questions about this period of time, when the subject stops speaking.  (We never interrupt a subject; we do not 'focus' the interview, we allow the subject to guide us).

When someone feels the need to not simply state where they went, but the leaving, first, of where they were, we know to back up, and ask questions because there is missing information at that period of time, that is likely very important to us.

  II.  "I didn't do it"

Today, an interview was conducted in which the accusation was plain:  theft of missing money.

If you have read here for any length of time, you know that an innocent person will say, "I didn't take the money" and if challenged, will use the emphatic, "I did not take the money"; often not waiting for the accusation to be verbalized, if known.  In this case, everyone in the company knew why the investigator was there:  someone stole money.

The investigator debriefed with me after the interview and expressed such admiration, in spite of his training and years of experience, for the simple teaching of Reliable Denial.  He said that the subject was unable to say he didn't do it, even though he had been given opportunity after opportunity to say so over a long period of time.

What did he say? Some of his answers are quite common, but a few caused the investigator to squelch a smile.

"I would never have taken the money. "

"I just can't see myself doing something like that."

"I just isn't like him to do something like that."

He wondered how his company could even question him.
Taken the money "never even crossed my mind."

The investigator took careful notes, moving slowly through a lengthy interview.  This is important for anyone, including journalists:  get quotes.  Do not paraphrase.  If you are an honest person, you will project yourself into the quotes.

I learned this lesson many years ago when I transcribed interviews of children.  My notes and the recording were not in unison.

"How are you feeling?"

"I'm good" became "well" as I took notes.  I found that I instinctively correct grammar.  This was a great lesson, listening to audio recordings of interviews taught me to write down precisely what the subject said, especially when the subject uses broken sentences and even illogical, incomplete sentences.

In today's interview, the investigator said that after a very lengthy interview, all the statements were compiled and the quotes were read back to the subject, who affirmed that everything was accurate.

In all the time of the interview, the subject did not say, "I didn't (or did not) take the money."

Our maxim?

"If the subject is unwilling or unable to bring himself to say he did not do it, we are not permitted to say it for him."

My initial confrontation with this teaching was a rough one:  I did not believe it would stand the test of time. It is just too simple.  How easy is it for a liar to simply phrase these words?

LSI taught that during the free editing process, that is, when the subject is speaking freely, using his own words, it will be rare that the subject is able to deny reality using a reliable denial.

It has held the test of time.

The investigator is well trained and knows principle and is experienced.  He was still...not surprised, but in his words, "amazed" at how the analysis has never been wrong for him.

I understood.


Vita said...

Peter, speaking of free editing, and when someone does not say it. Play the video, linked below at any moment, and you can see/listen to Jodi Arias, her Circus speak.

Yesterday, Jodi Arias back on the stand. Cross Examination. She is beyond aggravating. She banters with the Pros Atty as if this was Tennis. She claims " a fog rolled in" over her memory, the moment she and Travis became hostile with each other.

Her replies or responses as she is playing cat and mouse with the Pros Atty. She is not answering his questions. She is fielding her replies, responses, dependent upon what she said at an earlier time * her several versions* not the truth.

This video is yesterday, he the Pros Atty has the time stamped photos of the events leading up to Travis's vicious end. Which took only minutes for her to accomplish, torturing him till his death.

He the Pros Atty is vivid, is challenging her, as this is how far he has to go, in order for her to answer him, a single question. One question he has to recreate in several ways, as she says " I don't understand the Question" - the question is literal and not difficult. She though said it, that's not what you asked. She then is answering dependent upon how the question is asked, not what question is asked.

To be a juror on this case, you would have to have some sort of outlet, once the day was over. To do this day after day, listening to Jodi,... tear your hair out.
David Lohr columnist is uploading on YT without sidebars - this from Yesterday:

It's almost as if she wants the Jury to hate her, that she can use this too as a tactic. She is stalling, and no longer Memorex with her memory. As she has admitted, she did shoot, stab, slit Travis's throat. Motive and premeditation to be proven.

This what was of the stand yesterday. Pros Atty going through the moments of, she shooting Travis. She makes faces as if she stole a cookie from her own cookie jar " MEH" No emotions, no fear in her face, as she recounts, her said Travis ATTACKED her, threatened her life, why she shot him etc, etc. Her defense being battered woman.

Women all over the world who have been abused, within a abusive relationship are screaming: She is a Liar!

Anita said...

Peter, does the word "leave" or "leaving" have the same meaning in SA? For example, if someone were to say, "Ill be leaving here soon?" or, "I want to leave?" Or is just past tense, "left"?

Vita said...

Last week, Jodi on the stand.
Cross Exam. She is to look at the photo (she took) of Travis, his dead body, he placed in the shower stall by her.

@ 1:51, Pros Atty asks her, Mame' were you crying when you were shooting him..? were you crying when you were stabbing him?

I think she is facetious in her reaction to the photo, his questions. Her tone projects an evil giddy, not a morose sound of remorse, empathy for sure. She is not crying.

Her reaction is a mix of breathy chortle combined with a rush of adrenaline, she embraces the photos, why she took them in the first place, her trophies, job well done, ...sociopath.

Layla said...

Very interesting how telling these small words are--nice post!

Off Topic: New Orleans teacher missing for 2 weeks after leaving a bar where she was out celebrating. She told friends she was going to go sleep in her car before driving since she had been drinking. This jumped out at me: I have never heard of anyone doing this. Might be a good idea, but people find a ride home if they are drunk, they don't go sleep in their car. Very strange. She and her car are missing.

BostonLady said...

Vita, I have been reading/watching the Jodi Arias trial. The first time I watched the prosecutor question her, I was so annoyed. I actually got a knot in my stomach because she would never answer the question. I don't understand how they let her get away with it. She is asked a simple yes/no question but will not answer as such. She adds her own "version" and does not comply. Shouldn't the judge admonish her to answer?

I hope the jury get this right. Jodi is quite the liar. The prosecutor called her on all of them but she continued to lie and slightly edit her answers depending upon how he asked the question. I think she was trying to figure out where the prosecutor was going and answer in advance but it didn't work. Jodi, like most liars, thinks she is smarter than everyone and what she states is to be believed.

One last point. The picture of Travis sitting in the shower and looking into the camera is haunting. I wonder if Jodi had a gun on him then and he knew he was about to die. Whether it was a gun or a knife, I believe Travis knew it was coming. His eyes are so dark and piercing.

Jodi is evil. I believe she went there with the intent to kill him.

Shelley said...

Hi Peter,

I always hate to discuss another case in your posts but there is not another aveneue.

And, there is one that I have read about for a couple years and just came across a VERY interesting link to that case where Mr Avinoam Sapir himself did some analysis.

Thought you may want to use this case not only first and foremost to keep this cold case alive... Justice is still needed. But to use as examples. The mom especially as an example of an innocent parent (at least my limited exp with SA proves her innocence as does her actions). The mother still 30 years later will not give up up. Speaks of her in present tense and even carrys a suit case with her daughters belongings every where she goes.

The case is about Jennifer Marteliz went missing in Flordia in the 80's.

I found out about the case from a news article that a woman in PA had suspected her childhood neighbor was involved. In July 2012. He had a home near Jennifer in Flordia (along with next to her in PA) and was in Florida the days the child was missing. She said that man then came home with a large garbage bag in his trunk which he promptly buried.

He also had photographs of Jennifer in his home and told her he knew the child.

They went and looking at this area with no luck but said they would retry in Spring as the remains then may ignite some new scents for the dogs.. I have not found any new updates.

But what was odd was that a neighbor that was questioned, said he had a physic vision and that 2 men kidnapped and killed her. One of them he descriped seemed to be him.

Well, I kept thinking that I needed you to do statement analysis but in my search for the details on his "vision" and any updates today.... I found out that years ago.. that Avinoam Sapir was contacted years back and said that based on the statements by Tommy Peter Welnicki, that he was in fact speaking of himself.

Ill be out of space and will add the article in another comment.

Shelley said...

following to the prior post about Jennifer....

By spring 1989, Jennifer Marteliz' case had lain dormant for six years. There were no new promising leads.
Still, Kathy searched. She'd remarried in 1986 and her new husband, Michael Okash, supported her in her quest.
Jennifer was 13 years old, hidden away somewhere, waiting for her mother, Kathy believed. There were a million possibilities, and she would check out each one.
In March 1989, she swept into the office of Judy Hoyer, a white-collar crimes prosecutor with Hillsborough County State Attorney Bill James' office.
"I need you to help me find my daughter," she said.
Hoyer had the heart of a flower child. A teenager of the '60s, she'd watched enthralled as women shrugged off bras and boundaries.
She'd hoped to make a difference in the world by becoming a lawyer. When Kathy Okash came with her plea, Hoyer remembered the sad tale of the missing girl.
"Why do you think she's alive?" Hoyer asked Kathy.
Kathy launched into her latest theory. The story, built on old suspicions, focused on Sherrie Marteliz's father, who was in the carnival business, and photos of Jennifer that appeared to have been taken after her disappearance. Toni Lisa had found the photos at her father's house.
Kathy told the prosecutor that Jennifer was being shuffled around the country, hidden by carnies. She showed the prosecutor the photos of Jennifer, the girl's smile revealing two fully formed adult teeth where before had been half-grown incisors.
Intrigued, Hoyer agreed to help. She started by wiretapping Billy and Sherrie Marteliz' phone. In July 1989, she planted stories with the local TV media in hopes of triggering telephone conversations. For at least 30 days, every call on the Marteliz' phone was monitored, at least for the first few minutes.
But even while Hoyer's fictional accounts made the Jennifer Marteliz case again the talk of the town, nothing Sherrie or Billy said suggested they were involved.
"The phone calls convinced me, if anything, they were innocent," Hoyer said.
When she pulled the taps, she told the couple what she'd done. They weren't angry, she recalled.
Later, she learned from Kathy that Jennifer's front teeth were knocked out when she was 5, and she'd had a temporary partial plate. The false teeth would account for why Jennifer looked older in the photo.
Still, Kathy had pulled off a coup: Hoyer was hooked. At night, Hoyer took police files to bed, poring over them with highlight pens. The case consumed her weekends, pervaded her thoughts.
"I became truly obsessed."
When she came to work, Jennifer smiled back at her from her photo's place amid those of Hoyer's own children.
Hoyer was well into her investigation when she got a sign that finding Jennifer was, perhaps, her destiny. She was attending her son Adam's T-ball game one summer evening when something caught her eye.
A little girl with a heavy mantle of black hair shot across the field, right up to Adam's Little League coach.
The girl looked to be 7 years old. And she looked just like Jennifer Marteliz.
"It was like one of those moments in a motion picture when the sound fades out," Hoyer said. "I thought I was really having a mental breakdown."
The little girl's name was Cameron. She was Jennifer's cousin, Kathy Okash's niece. Adam's coach was Cameron's dad, Kathy's brother Frank Longo.
Later, Hoyer would learn Cameron looked so much like Jennifer, her grandmother had said the child was Jennifer reincarnated.

BostonLady said...

Another quick comment about the Jodi Arias case. When Jodi was asked by the jury "How many times did you see Travis clean his gun" She answered "THREE". Three, the liars number! Travis didn't own a gun. It is surmised that Jodi stole the gun she used from her grandparent's home.

I love when I can recognize something I've learned here when someone makes a statement :)

Shelley said...


In the crush of police reports, the prosecutor discovered Tommy Welnicki's long, psychic interview. She read the carpenter's ramblings — of a blond man suffering guilty remorse, a little girl's body wrapped in a bedspread — with growing excitement.
Welnicki had lived next door to Jennifer. His vision sounded like a confession.
Hoyer went back to the cops for more. She came away convinced Welnicki had killed Jennifer.
"They had done their work and nobody had helped them," she said.
Hoyer called in Jack Mehl, a polygraph examiner who had retired from the FBI's organized crime squad. He, too, worked in James' office as an investigator.
Mehl became convinced Welnicki's statement was a veiled confession.
"He wanted to be arrested. We feel he was just waiting for someone to come and put him under arrest," Mehl said.
But there were big problems with trying to build a case.
There was no body. No blood or physical evidence. And the wizardry of DNA evidence remained to be discovered.
"A no-body homicide is the most difficult case to prove. So we had a no-body homicide with a confession that is not a confession," Hoyer said.
Mehl found Welnicki in jail in January 1990.
He was headed to state prison on felony drug and theft charges, convicted of trafficking in heroin and passing a forged check for $500.
He was scheduled to start an 8-year-prison term.
"They say that I agreed to deal some drugs to an FDLE undercover agent," Welnicki said in prison records. "I flew to New York, bought some drugs and they arrested me at the airport."
Mehl set up a Jan. 3 interview. He talked to the FBI in Quantico, who advised him to put life-sized photos of Jennifer on the walls of the state attorney's conference room. Mehl planted benign investigative papers around the table.
Welnicki didn't seem phased. He calmly roamed the room when Mehl stepped out.
He admitted to playing games with the cops back in 1983.
He had known Billy casually, had occasionally invited him over, he said.
Jennifer was an introverted child, he told Mehl. He felt sorry for her; her stepmother didn't like her or treat her well.
When Marteliz wasn't home, he added, Jennifer's stepmother didn't seem to care where she was or when she got home.
Welnicki told Mehl he couldn't have done anything to the girl because he couldn't be in two places at once. He was cashing a check that afternoon, he reminded the investigator.
He went along with police back in '83 because he had nothing to hide, he said. He pretended to be a psychic because that's what the cops seemed to want.
Mehl asked Welnicki to undergo a psychological test.
Welnicki would be shown a sketch. Theory held that if he'd been involved in a crime like the one in the sketch, he would try to suppress his memories to deceive the interviewer.
Welnicki's picture showed a man trying to lure a young girl and her baby into his car.
It's a girl waiting for someone to pick her up, Welnicki said. The man knows the girl and is offering to help.
He took the girl to where she wanted to go, Welnicki said.
By the test's standards, Welnicki was covering up.
Mehl gave Welnicki a polygraph and asked whether he was behind Jennifer's disappearance.
"Did you cause the disappearance of Jennifer Marteliz?" Mehl asked.
"No," Welnicki said.
"Did you on Nov. 15, 1982, do anything to cause Jennifer Marteliz's disappearance?"
"Did you know what happened to Jennifer?"
"Do you know where Jennifer is now?"
Welnicki flunked the test; Mehl ruled it inconclusive when he learned Welnicki was on medication to prevent seizures.
Welnicki wasn't worried.
"That thing's not right," he said.
Frustrated, Mehl and Hoyer struck out in search of Jennifer's body in the spring of 1990.

Shelley said...


Hoyer went back to the beginning — to 98th Avenue. She walked the same route Jennifer took home from school that day. She and Mehl retraced Welnicki's drive from the credit union.
With the assistance of two Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents and a county-operated bulldozer, they staged a dig in the lot north of East Fowler Avenue, east of North 9th Street and west of the railroad tracks.
It was one of the places Welnicki did drugs and it was near the school. They figured it was as good a spot as any.
After six hours, they found only animal bones.
For the next two years, Hoyer and Mehl continued their struggle to find the evidence they needed. That included a second fruitless dig in 1992.
Mehl came up with a theory for why they could find no trace of Jennifer. Noting the railroad tracks near the former Marteliz duplex, he checked out the trains on the route.
The night Jennifer disappeared, a train with a fertilizer car had parked on the tracks near 98th and 14th. The train stopped regularly in Jacksonville, dumping its cargo into a ship bound for Africa.
Fertilizer would act like acid on a corpse, Mehl figured. There would be nothing left to discover once the ship reached its destination.
It seemed their best break that year would come by chance.
Hoyer had run across a flier on her desk for the Laboratory for Scientific Interrogation and sent Mehl to take the course. That's where he met Avinoam Sapir.
Sapir, an orthodox Jew from Israel, deals in linguistics. He trains law enforcement and security personnel in analysis of written statements.
It seemed destiny had struck again.
When talking about the case, he and Hoyer discovered they shared the same birthday, Nov. 6, 1949, down to the minute.
She was born at 6 a.m.
He was born at 1 p.m.
There is seven hours difference between Florida and Tel Aviv.
It was all there, hidden in black and white, according to Sapir's analysis.
Welnicki had been talking about himself when describing the killers in his story. The linguistic evidence was everywhere if you knew what to look for.
For example, Welnicki specifically said Jennifer put her left arm around the killer's neck. Those kinds of details usually indicate the subject has memory of the incident, Sapir wrote.
Most mistakes made by deceptive people being interviewed happen in the first 10 to 15 minutes. As time passes, they learn to fix whatever slips they made, according to the report. After his initial setup of the tale, the report indicated Welnicki made a slip: "The, ah, man takes, tells her to go inside the house...".
At first, Welnicki said Jennifer ran into the house by herself and jumped into the cross-dresser's arms. But Jennifer had been taken inside the house by her killer, if the report was correct.
At another point, Welnicki talked about the older man who supposedly killed Jennifer, saying: "He looks at it like, ah, I could get in trouble for it and I, ah, you know, I, ah, but it doesn't really."
The report pointed out that the first person is used and the interviewee stops in mid sentence. It concluded that this is a quotation from the murderer.
It also said that Welnicki seemed to defend the young man.

Shelley said...

last one for Jennifers case

"He didn't have any part in the killing, so he's, he's beginning to take the position that, that he, ah, he, he's guilty but he's not really guilty. He didn't, he didn't mean for her to get killed," Welnicki said.
The report concluded that because the details are sketchy on the house where the murder took place, the killing must have occurred at the interviewee's home.
References to Jennifer's mother during the interview made it likely that Welnicki felt rejected by Kathy, it said.
The young man Welnicki spoke of liked kids. In this case, "like" is loaded with sexual connotations, the analysis insisted. It also pointed out that Jennifer told the young man she liked him, that he was a nice man.
Jennifer's words may have been seen as an invitation for the killer to initiate sex with her, according to the report.
And it was through the report, that Hoyer could answer a critical question: If Welnicki was the girl's murderer, why would he jeopardize himself by giving information, even as a psychic?
The question was answered by the killer himself, the report insisted.
"He may come in for some other reason or give you some other reason why he's here," Welnicki said. "Say he knows somebody that did it or, or, knows, has some information about it but he's doing it because he wants to be, he wants to be relieved of this burden that he has on him."
For more than three years Hoyer worked the case, squeezing interviews and field trips in among the embezzlers and racketeers that filled her days. It was only a matter of time, she believed.
But time was not a luxury.
Politics would contribute to the death of Judy Hoyer's investigation. In 1992, Harry Lee Coe waged a bitter battle for Bill James' job.
The fight ended with a recount on Veteran's Day. Coe, a former circuit judge, had won. He would assume office Jan. 5.
Hoyer was devastated. She and her husband searched for new jobs while trying to finish up important cases, like Jennifer's.
"This one was paramount, and there were others I cared very much about that I wasn't sure would survive once I left," Hoyer said.
She groped for answers. Should they rush for an indictment against Welnicki before they left office? They had at least a 50 percent chance of winning one, she believed. Should she ask Coe to appoint her as a special prosecutor in the case?
It was a bitter time for Kathy. The 10th anniversary of her daughter's disappearance was days away. And for the first time, Kathy no longer imagined that Jennifer would walk through her door. Hoyer had changed that through gentle persuasion.
The prosecutor had taken her by the hand and pointed out the grim signs: Welnicki's interview, Sapir's analysis.
Kathy's thoughts turned to justice, but she was not sure there would be any for her daughter when Hoyer left.
Hoyer tried one last desperate measure.

Skeptical said...

This post was an eye-opener for me. When Peter said that he wanted to correct the grammar, it jogged my memory. Back when the earth was cooling, I had an English teacher who made our class write an essay a week our senior year (and yes it was in cursive longhand). Her mantra was that language is alive. An extensive vocabulary is like money in the bank. Spend it.

The simple sentence, I went to Sears.” could turn into an exercise to see how many ways we could get to Sears.

I walked, ran, ambled, sauntered, strolled, skipped, crawled, meandered, etc., etc., to Sears. When I read a statement by a subject and he/she changes word tenses or vocabulary, it seems right to me. I am working hard at retraining my brain.

Shelley said...

Jennifer continued...

And Peter, if you do see my posts about the missing child case, other man that they belive may have buried the childs body in PA, this was what his son has to say. I would love your thoughts on his statements. Very few comments and its very possible too that his father could have killed that child and he never knew anything about it. But I did find his comments lacking. If it was my mom (I dont know my dad) I would be able to speak with out a doubt "she didnt do it".
So his response bugged me.

Visnosky's son, Lester, 63, of Pennsylvania, said in an interview Thursday that he had visited the Florida home many times. He did not want to comment on the search, but said that many of the details reported in the affidavit "are just not true."

Lester Visnosky said police should be wary of the tip, and of Cummings.

"The only thing I can say is consider the source, consider who emailed you," he said. "Because I know the family well."

Jo said...

Great post. I have known "left" to be a word that is flagged but it wasn't until this post that I was able to understand the reasoning behind it.

Lis said...

Skeptical, I think you have put your finger on something. What you are referring to in your English class is storytelling. English class is all about creative writing and becoming a skillful story teller.

But, what triggers a red flag is when someone is storytelling at a time when it isn't appropriate. It's one thing to storytell when creating a story, but it's out of place when one is giving a statement to police or making a 911 call or such.

Lemon said...

~ snickers over Skeptical's
'Back when the earth was cooling' ~

Wreyeter72 said...

now that it's over with, I can speak... but just know that I did not do what I was accused of... abd now my reputation is permanently stained...

Would anybody care to analyze this with me? It's the statement of a man accused of making lewd proposals to a student at the school he worked at. His case was recently dismissed because the evidence - a cell phone, photos and texts, was left in a desk drawer for more than a year at the police dept and so was considered compromised. I looked at this statement critically but I think I'm too skeptical of this person to judge honestly, so I'm asking for the more experienced of you to help me please ;)

john said...


BUT just know that I did not DO WHAT I WAS ACCUSED OF...

BUT=Negates what was previously stated.

DO WHAT I WAS ACCUSED OF.=A reliable denial consists of 3 components.

I=First person singular.

DIDN'T/DID NOT=Past tense.

STEAL THE MONEY=Event specific.

Anything beyond or under these three components is noted as unreliable.

He starts of well by saying "I =First person singular this is a good start.

He then says"DID NOT="Here we have the second rule of a reliable denial,this is good.

And now this is were it all goes wrong.

He says"WHAT I WAS ACCUSED OF"Here were he breaks the third rule of a reliable denial.He does not tell us what he has been accused of,breaking the third rule.If he doesn't say it we cant say it for him.

Sus said...

Thank you! I knew about "left", but I didn't understand why it was important. I get it now.

I'm wondering if the same principal applies when Mark Redwine said he got home and Dylan wasn't there. MR then used GO in the following quotes: "...because it's not unlike him to GO wandering off."; "...he might GO up into the campground ..."; "..."I need to GO find that boy."

It seems to me MR had GO on his mind when he was at his home and Dylan wasn't there. MR said, "It feels good to be home." in such an awkward spot in the interview. Now I see why. He had GO on his mind.

Baxtie said...

I agree that Arias was faking crying on the stand in that youtube clip. She covered her eyes because there were no tears. She pinched her nose, made stupid sounds, but never wiped away tears -- not even when she removed her glasses. Fake fake fake.