Monday, February 23, 2015

Statement Analysis: Belinda Lee Radders Reliable Denial

Here we have an example of a Reliable Denial within a poorly conducted interview. The transcripts are edited by Dateline. Twice, however, we hear a reliable denial:

1. The pronoun "I"
2. The past tense verb
3. Allegation specifically answered.

In fact, in the poorly worded question, the subject senses suspicion and does not wait to be accused. This is an example of how innocent people react to even a hint of guilt: "I didn't do it!"

Dateline episode.


Divorce lawyer convicted in slaying of his stepdaughter’s husband.

A California divorce lawyer has been convicted in Arizona of second-degree murder in the slaying of his stepdaughter's husband three years ago.

Attorney Robert Douglas Fischer was accused of shooting to death Norman "Lee" Radder in his Queen Creek, Ariz., home, then staging the scene as a suicide and calling 911 at about 5 a.m. on Dec. 30, 2010, according to the Navel Gazing page of the OC Weekly and the Orange County Register.

After the Maricopa County coroner ruled the death a homicide, the Orange County practitioner was charged with second-degree murder and extradited to Arizona last year. He was convicted Dec. 19 and, the OC Weekly says, could get 16 years when he is sentenced in June.

Fischer worked as a police officer before retiring and becoming a family law practitioner.
Here is the transcript of the interrorgations.

Police bring in lee's wife, Belinda in for questioning.

Detective Brooks. (DB)

"I'm trying to figure out what happened."

Belinda. "You and me both"

Narator. "Why would lee have killed himself?" asked Detective Brooks"

Better to ask:

"Tell me about your life..." and move slowly to what their married life was like.

Belinda. " We've had financial trouble. We always seem to make it through. you know, it's like -- i just -- i -- i just don't get it. i don't get it. We don't own a gun.

It is very important to follow the pronouns.  Here we see the word "we" used.  This indicates unity and cooperation, even in the sharing of "financial trouble" and owning a "gun."

Narrator: so to the beginning. the detective wanted details. everything that happened that evening after rob came in from california.

Belinda."We went to dinner about 7:00."

We look for distancing language from the guilty subject as time moves closer to the death.

DB."You came back to the house and you talked for a little bit and the girls went to sleep?"

Note the leading question. This does not gain information, but suggests it. This is not how to conduct an interview that allows the subject to guide and control the flow of information. The only time we wrest away control is if the subject is seeking a deep tangent, but even in those cases, we let the subject run his mouth on and on.


Because, as analyst Kaaryn Gough is fond of saying, "The brain knows what it knows." The subject, while keeping up a monologue, even, will leak out relevant information.

Belinda. " uh-huh"

DB."what time -- about what time did the girls go to sleep?"

In our seminars, we teach Interviewers to ask very short, plain questions. Here, just a single word, "about" allows the subject to not have to answer with precision.

Belinda." 10:30"

Narrator: Around that time, lee got an e-mail. he went to call his business partner while belinda stayed in the kitchen with rob."

Belinda. " I got up to go to the bathroom and came back and -- there he was. And it's like, you know, it's -- it's really not real."

We do not know what prompted her to explain why she got up due to the Dateline editing.

DB, "About what time did this happen?"

Best is, "What time did this happen?" Never assume that a time is not known. If a time is not known specifically, let the subject say so but do not offer an 'out' from specificity.

Belinda."The girls went to bed about 10:30 . um -- so it was after that. i don't -- i don't know."

Narrator: Detective brooks was baffled. was belinda saying she shouldn't account for what happened from 10:30 p.m . until the 911 call came in at 5:00 a.m . it didn't make sense."

DB"okay, were you, um, intoxicated?"

Were you drinking?
What were you drinking?
How many drinks did you have?
How often do you drink?
How many drinks do you generally have?
How many drinks will your friends say you have?

Please note that minimization and alcohol are close cousins.

Note that "intoxicated" is a conclusion. To be fair, we cannot tell if this question did not come after a series of questions exploring alcohol usage. We ask about alcohol knowing that a natural desire exists to deny, or in the least, to minimize.

Belinda. "probably, oh, yeah, i'm sure"

"Trickle truth" (howbeit quickly) goes from 
"probably" to "yeah, I'm sure..." immediately. 

DB"we got our first call on this at 5:00 in the morning.

This reveals that there was a second call.  The subject may already know this, however.  

Belinda."okay. i don't --.

DB: that's pretty significant from 10:30 , from the kids going to bed , 10:00 , 10:30."

NEVER interrupt a subject speaking. SHE has the information he seeks. It is in her brain and comes through her tongue. While he is going to interrupt her, he is limiting the information. He is showing her that he does not believe her.

Stay neutral to keep the flow of information.
Say as little as possible so the subject will talk.
Use silence for your advantage.


She agreed with him. Was this what he wanted? A justification of his suspicion does not gain information.

DB: to 5:00 in the morning.

DB." is there something more to this?"

Belinda. "no. do i need to have a lawyer or something?"

He has triggered her suspicion by being unable to control his disbelief.

Belinda. "I didn't kill my husband, i didn't want him dead, i would never do anything like that"

Here we have a specific reliable denial:
"I didn't kill my husband", which is strong.  
She then adds, "I didn't want him dead."  What must now be known is if this was what she thought she was accused of. 
"I would never..." does not negate the reliable denial above. It is commonly used along with a RD. 

Please note that in these denials we do not have a reliable denial of another's desire to kill him.  

She denied killing him.  She denied wanting him dead.  This still does not mean that she had no guilty knowledge of it, nor even that if she didn't want him dead, there was a reason why no call was made.  

If she did not kill him, was she protecting another?

This type of interview is not likely to yield much information.  He could have taken the role of sympathetic listener instead of accuser.  Poor training produces poor interviewing skills and lots of impatience. 

DB. "Wouldn't you agree that there's a big difference between 10:30 at night and 5:00 in the morning?"

Foolishly worded. This is an interview, not a lead, nor cross examination. He is showing her suspicion needlessly. This provokes her, however, to issue a reliable denial.
She is not there to agree with him. She is there for him to gain information. Instead, he is seeking justification for his impatience and lack of belief.

Belinda. " Well absolutely."

DB. " but you would know --"

Belinda. "But i also know that i didn't kill my husband, if thats what this is--going. If this--thats what its about then...

"I know that..." is weak until we see why she said it:  "...if that's what this is...going.  If this, that's what it's about."

This does not negate her reliable denial.  

She does not deny knowing who did kill him, and who wanted him dead. 

We do not have context but:  if the Interviewer did not raise the suspicion that she wanted him dead, it is very likely that she may have known who did, in fact, want him dead. This is a missed opportunity and even with heavy editing, shows poor interviewing skills. 

Rob Ficsher's interrogation.

At this point another detective is interviewing (RB) he calls him "Mike so i will refer to him as (M)

M."can you tell me what happened?"

Rob Ficsher. (RB) "Lee Belinda and I. We were out. We were having some cocktails, were talking like we always do. Everybody went to bed and i heard a popping sound, came out and saw somebody laying on the ground.

"Like we always do" should be treated the same as "normal" in Statement Analysis.  This is a strong signal that while at dinner they talked of something very unique indeed.  

Note that there may be nothing in his statement above that is technically a lie.  He is simply withholding, or concealing information, particularly the "somebody" he saw laying on the ground. 
M."You were in the fron bedroom in--in bed?"
RB. "Yes"

RB." I didn't think it was Lee, i didn't know who it was, i didn't think it was Lee"

Note that he reported twice what he did not think about it being Lee, and once more about "who" it was (in the negative).

RB. "Mike, i was really drinking and i don't remember a lot. i'm not even sure it was lee. We drank two bottles of vodka. who knows?

In an open statement, one can only tell us what they remember.  Here he tells us, specifically, that he does not remember "a lot."  This is an indication of suppressed information.  

DB. "It looks like Lee didn't commit suicide, and that's why i'm turning to you to help fill in some of the, some of the voids."

RB. "wish i could"

note the "wish"

DB. Somebody moved him.
RB. "Rob, i don't know"

Broken questions often lead to broken answers as parroting is always close by.

DB."what do you feel happened?"

RB. "i don't believe i shot him. i would never shoot him. I would never shoot him. We have never fought. We hadn't fought

Note the weakness of his denial.  He only "believes" he did not shoot him.  This allows for himself, the Interviewer, or anyone else to "believe" otherwise. 

From this short edition, I believe that the female did not shoot him.  It is a reliable denial.  I cannot tell, however, from just this information, if she knew the plans of the shooter.  

I think she may have.  I need more sample to know. 

A family member then asked to see the 911 call transcript.

It was Fischer who made the 9-1-1 call reporting that Radder had shot himself. Unfortunately i can't find the transcript.


Anonymous said...

OT: Those following Holly Bobo's story.

GetThem said...

The first thought that crossed my mind when you said from the start that she gave a reliable denial, was does she know who did do it. Then RB says:
"RB. "i don't believe i shot him. i would never shoot him. I would never shoot him. We have never fought. We hadn't fought".

1. Don't believe.
2. I would never
3. We have never fought 2x (sensitive)

Too bad there's no 911 transcript.

Oh, I also learned tonight to "use silence to your advantage." I liked that commentary a lot. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

No question an interviewer could ask regarding why a person who drank two bottles of vodka would kill him/herself make sense.

Drunks do weird things.

Anonymous said...

I started listening to the 911 call from Rob Fischer and there is a very distinct lack of urgency. He knows he is dead, there is no request for help for the victim specifically (at least not at the point I listened to). He is really calm and it struck me as odd/off.

I might try to transcribe it tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Off topic: Update on Charles Bouthell -- father of boy found in Detroit basement, while he was on Nancy Grace show --

john said...

Rob Fischer's call to 911

Operator (OP) 911 whats your emergency ?

Rob Fischer (RB) He shot himself i don't get it, he dhot himself.

OP. Ok who shot himself ?

RB I don't know who he is, he's like like, wifes cousin.

OP. Ok whats the address ?

RB. I gotta look, i don't know, i meen, it's my families haouse. Let me look. ( I can't understant this bit ) I'm a retired Police Officer i don't know.

OP. What's the (It sounds like he says "I, U, S" or "R, U, S" ?

RB. I'm at the house (Talk over) please quick come quick.

OP. Well i'm trying to get trying to get your information ok.

RB. Ugh.

OP. I'm just trying to get your information.

RB. No i know, and i'm..We heard a shot and we're all asleep we heard a sho, i came out (inaudible) he's laying there dead i think he's dead,. I'm a retired Police Officer.

OP. Ok hold on i got the (Inaudible) on they're on the way. What's your name ?

RB. I'm Rob Fischer.

OP. And who's this person that's shot, is it a family friend ?

RB. He is my daughter inlaws cousin i think ? We're sitting around, i don't, i mean , i think he's my step daughters cousin i think, i'm not sure.

OP. Do you know how old he is ?

RB. He looks, no i don't know his age. Pleas.. hur..(the phone goes off)

Dialing tone..

This time it is a differant Operator

OP. 911 emergency

RB. He shot himself.

You can hear a female in the back saying something, i can't make it out.

RB. Responds with "Yeah think"

Female voice again in the back ground.

OP. Ok,. Are you with anybody who is actually injured ?

RB. I heard a shot, i cane out.

OP. Sir, sir.

RB. (It sounds like he is saying "we're asleep) ?

OP. Sir Sir. Can you hear me ? Who is this person to you ?

RB. What ?

OP. Who is this person to you ?

RB. He's (sounds like he says "He's sleepy") ?

OP. Is it a friend or realative or..

RB. He is my daughter inlaw...friend.

OP. What is your name ?

RB. Rob Fischer.

OP. How do you spell your last name ?

RB. F-I-s-c-h-e-r

RB. Come in come in, the sheriffs are hear now.

OP. Ok, i'll let you get back to the sheriffs.

RB. Ok, thank you.

Get Them said...

Ive just bought ivran suppours book!

GetThem said...

First, I didn't post that comment about buying a book.

Thanks for the transcript John. It was very telling.

Karen T said...

Off topic. Background. Woman and her infant go missing in Woodland, CA. After less that 48 hours mom is found but infant is not. Here is link to story for those interested:

My questions for those of you who are better at statement analysis than I, is what do you think of the father's comments below. These are from his FB page:

Where the duck is my baby. I know it ain't much but I hit $5,000$ dollars and whatever else you want of that I own on the wearabouts of my Justice. He is our son and I will trade my life for his if need be. We can keep it public or or private. Up to you. I will kill and die for any child you don't want to know what I'll do for my own. So if someone has him just leave him someware safe and warm where we can get him. If you act now I will spare your life if he is harmed or I find you my self I WILL KILL YOU.

Thanks for any input any of you may have.

john said...

HI Karen, More on your OT

Crews search for infant in Yolo County

There are some conflicting accounts. The family say they went missing a day or two ago, the authorities say it was more like three days ago ?

GetThem said...

Karen, I said in a recent post that it's weird how many parents use the sentence "...if someone has him just leave him someware safe and warm where we can get him."

I'm hoping to learn that sometimes it's legit, but that comment above is suspect. I don't know what the weather is like this week in that part of CA, but why their son, whose name he can't say, needs to be somewhere safe AND WARM is also odd. Is the baby somewhere cold? Those are a couple oddities.

Karen T said...

GetThem: I agree. There is something very off with the father of baby. It is in the 40s at night out here. I didn't pick up on him not saying his baby's name.
John: I agree with conflicting accounts. Monday several family members were all over on FB posting that she was missing and now that she has been found, but not the baby, they are requesting "privacy" and do not want anyone asking questions. Something very odd is going on.

Why does the dad think someone has his baby? Mom has reportedly said she was kidnapped. I wonder if there was a drug deal gone bad or drug debts.

john said...

Hi Karen,

It reminds me of baby Delano :(

The latter end of his fathers statement sounds like an excerpt from the movie "Taken"

GetThem said...

Karen, I didn't post those two rude comments. Someone keeps posting my name. I'm just going to switch to Anon after this post.

I didn't realize I was so awesome that I have a fan club posting as me!! (wink)

Anonymous said...

(Get Them)Karen i shall charge for my "fan club"members to follow me from now on lol

Karen said...

@ "Get Them"ok lol

john said...

Hi GetThem,

We know it's not you. Tania and I. Always, if you're a regular as we know your good self is. Pic a profile picture. Then nobody can "try" to impersonate you. It's unique to you, your picture. It stops idiot's "trying" to cause conflict within us regulars and intrigued people who fall across this blog and become regulars..

Karen T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen T said...

HAHA - this was not Me:
Karen said...
@ "Get Them"ok lol
February 25, 2015 at 7:17 PM

hahaha - whatevs :)

Get Them said...

Karen nice profile hun :) John great advice :)