This is the ultimate fear of the family of any missing person, but more so when they consider that someone close to their loved one, is not truthful about what happened.
When the loved one of a missing person refers to the missing in the past tense, it can be an indication that the person knows, or believes, that the missing one is dead. We ask, "Have the police told you anything to cause you to believe this?", and we look at:
*the relationship to the missing person
*the length of time that has passed
The relationship to the missing person is critical as mothers, for example, will be longer in "denial" than fathers, refusing to accept the death of their missing child. (See Solomon's decision in analysis).
If the person has not been missing long, and police have not revealed anything to convince the subject that the missing person is dead, a single "slip of the tongue", due to the speed of transmission, can tell us that the person has guilty knowledge of the death of the missing.
Susan Smith, on television, pleading for her sons' safe return, referenced them as dead.
"Caylee loved the park", said Casey Anthony, to police.
"Hailey wasn't allowed to go out along at night..." Billie Jean Dunn.
Yet, there is still other indicators where, although the subject carefully avoids a past tense reference, suggests by his language that the missing person is dead, often by 'de-personalizing' her, and by assigning her 'activities' after death, that indicates a 'lack of commitment' to the activities.
When someone is deceased in a statement, a guilty party, wishes to deceive the listener/reader/investigator, etc, will try to portray them as 'alive' and 'active' but in this attempt to persuade, sometimes inadvertently reveals that the person is, in fact, deceased.
We now listen further to the interview given on national television to seek if we can answer this question.
The original analysis is from the published, HLN interview. This article presupposes that the reader is familiar with the case, the analysis, and with general principles of Statement Analysis, with the following link of the case here:
If you are an investigator or human resources professional and wish for formal training, please see
Hyatt Analysis Services for training opportunities. The analysis published here is an abbreviation of work submitted to law enforcement, prosecutors, attorneys, corporations, etc, and is for general knowledge. All subjects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and the analysis represents the personal viewpoint of myself. Analytical Interviewing is a legally sound, open ended interview based upon analysis of statements. It is taught initially in one and two day seminars, at home courses, and online, and is followed up with much required practice and ongoing training. It is not an easy science, but once grasped, is a powerful tool in discerning truth from deception, and obtaining content. As a blog open to the public, the only statements used are those that are either published publicly, or redacted statements that are used with permission. If at any time, law enforcement wishes analysis to be deleted, it is removed from this blog without comment to the public.
Bobby Fischer once said that chess is a lesson. Sometimes you give a lesson, and sometimes you are taught a lesson.
Deception is like this: We can see that one is deceptive, but we do not always know what has caused the deception. Each case is a lesson in not only Statement Analysis, but human nature.
A few scenarios as to why we do not rush in a conclusion:
a. A father of a missing child is deceptive about the occasion of his daughter going missing. She is later found murdered at the hands of a sex offender.
He was, in deed, deceptive, but not about the murder. He was deceptive about substance abuse and the negligence that caused her to go missing.
b. A man is deceptive about his missing wife. He was cheating on her and she left in turmoil only to meet up with a killer.
The analyst must always consider: Is the subject deceptive, but still not have "done it"?
Years ago, I had a statement regarding theft in which the subject was deceptive...about theft. There was something in my analysis that didn't sit well with me and sent it off for review to several analysts; which is always a good practice. All came back with "deception indicated" but one said, "it is deceptive indicated, but see if another crime had taken place."
I approached the company and asked but was met with, "Yes, but that is not what we called you in on. It is unrelated."
The subject was deceptive but not about the lesser crime, but was overflowing with sensitivity indicators because she had given her boyfriend access to the building in a much larger crime.
In the case of missing 35 year old Crystal Rogers, the man engaged to be married, Brooks Houck, was interviewed by Nancy Grace.
He is indicated for deception in the disappearance of Crystal Rogers, leaving us to ask why the need to deceive while she is missing.
Is it because he caused her disappearance?
Is it because of some attendant guilt, such as, an argument or fight that caused her to run off and meet with foul play?
It is hoped that, for example, lesser guilt would be ignored and truth spoken, but it is not always the case. Self protection is a strong motivator for deception. Therefore, we must look carefully at the areas of sensitivity and not rush to a conclusion.
I have been asked about "inconclusive" results in a polygraph and take the opportunity to address it here.
"Analytical Interviewing" is a title given to an interview which is very unlikely to produce a result of "inconclusive" and for good reason.
Statement Analysis recognizes that each one of us has a private language, all to ourselves. In training, a single word is chosen and attendees give description of such, which produces a subjective response; that is, a "back" to one person, is a "shoulder" to the person sitting next to him, and "sexual relations" to one person is any physical contact that you would not have with your mother or aunt, while it is "intercourse" to President Clinton. In the child molestation case cited, a repeat offender passed his polygraph simply because of this principle:
Each one of us has an internal, subjective, personal dictionary. The Analytical Interview recognizes this and has the subject, himself, define his own words prior to the polygraph. This is because the physiological reaction is not to a question, but the words as defined by the subject, within a question.
Case: Claim against employer; assault by manager. Manager under polygraph by insurance investigator fighting claim:
Question: "Did you hit _____ _______ in the back?"
Polygraph needle: low or little movement
Same question, using the subject's own wording:
Question: "Did you hit ____ _______ on the shoulder?"
Polygraph needle: acute movement
Conclusion: significant stress at this question
The pre-screening interview is one in which the subject does 80% or more of the talking. At the conclusion, the test questions are agreed upon by both the subject and the polygrapher and employ only the subject's wording. This is why a repeat offender passed his polygraph when asked about molesting a little girl. He "molested" no one. He "tickled" her in her private region. He was bold in insisting he be polygraphed when he was told that she had accused him of molestation.
His statement indicated when and where he did it. This matched the victim's statement.
He said, "I did not molest ___" easily and often.
This is a very strong denial and it is why President Clinton would have passed a polygraph had he been asked if he had "sexual relations" with Ms. Lewinsky.
The Ramsey attorneys "polygraph" shopped until they found one to pass them and sign an agreement to never release what questions were asked. It was specifically designed to pass them, after repeated failures. It is not different than a court not liking the findings of two court appointed psychologists and sending one back for a third.
Let's look at the pace of the Interview, rather than the full analysis which you can find: HERE
The pace is not a subjective "feel" which many intuitive investigators can adequately describe. In "pace", I refer to the specific teaching within Statement Analysis that uses a calculator and is taught in the training.
First, we note that Houck:
1. Did not deny causing Crystal Rogers' disappearance.
Had he said, "I did not cause Crystal's disappearance" in the Free Editing Process, he would have put himself into the category that says,
He is only 10% likely to have done it.
This one sentence, produced freely by the subject (in the interview, if asked, "Did you cause Crystal's disappearance?" it means:
a. The subject (Houck) caused the interviewer to have to ask this question. We then ask, "Did he know he was suspected?" If so, by not offering it early on, we move our needle towards guilt, statistically.
b. This statement must not come in parroted language:
"Did you cause Crystal's disappearance?" answered by "I didn't cause Crystal's disappearance" can be true, but is it not reliable because it parroted the language of the interviewer.
The reason we do 20% or less of the talking is to not contaminate the statement by allowing the subject to use our wording.
Let's say that rumors had abound that Brooks Houck was involved and he knows this. Mr. Houck is called in for the interview.
He enters the room and says, "I didn't cause Crystal's disappearance" without waiting to be asked nor by using the Interviewer's own language.
Causing Crystal's disappearance is the 800 lb gorilla in the living room; very difficult to ignore. The innocent (this word, in context, is not judicial innocence, something deceptive people often use, but is a 'de facto' innocence: he did not do it. )
Let's assume he did not do it and is then asked, "Why should we believe you?" , his answer will 'move the needle' for us:
a. "You should believe me because I am telling the truth"
b. "You should believe me because I don't lie"
c. "You should believe me because people can tell you how honest I am"
d. "You should believe me because I had not reason to do this"
It is answer (a) that, if combined with a reliable denial, freely given, that moves him above 99% statistically to having not "done it"
We like to hear:
1. The pronoun "I"
2. The word "told" (strongest) or "telling" (if live in the interview)
3. The word "truth", not "truthful" but "truth."
If looking back at his denial and says, "I told the truth" that is, in recognition of his original "Reliable Denial", it is fool-proof. He didn't do it.
We do not like the word "lie" in any form in the answer. It does not clear the subject.
We must note that in the interview with Nancy Grace, no matter how much excessive (therefore, damaging or limiting) talking a TV host does, the subject was unable or unwilling to issue a Reliable Denial.
In training seminars, it is challenging, in the first few hours, to convince some within law enforcement of the statistical conclusions of the Reliable Denial.
After a few samples, however, with analysis done, the "light bulb" goes on, and especially those with lots of 'street experience' (domestics), they begin to lose their weakening resistance. It begins the same:
"That's too simplistic" is the first response;
"That's what the subject said in the interview!" is the second. "Sure, he denied it all through the interview." (This will soon become evident that he did not).
The first falls by the wayside when they see how guilty party after guilty party violated the 3 component rule of the reliable denial.
The second falls easily when the transcript is analyzed, especially in an interview the officer conducted.
This teaches the principle of "dulled listening" that we all do.
A exceptionally sharp interviewer conducted a drug investigation. This was just prior to her training in Statement Analysis. I spoke to her before the interview and asked her to make sure her notes are precise: the words written must match the audio.
The interview was lengthy (approaching 4 hours) and the Interviewer emerged and said, "I don't think she did it."
Unbeknownst to the investigator, I by-passed the secretary in setting up the interview. (a technique I share in seminars for good reason). The subject was very willing to be interviewed, and although I told her that it was not going to be me who interviewed her, she talked on and on.
Analytical Interviewing 101: Do not interrupt. If someone wants to talk, let 'em.
Although I was "only" calling to set up the day, time and location, I listened and as is my course, took notes. I had heard passivity and an unreliable denial. I 'knew' she had 'done' the crime. Unfortunately, I did not do a good job of concealing my opinion from the Interviewer. (She reads poker faces well). She was 'ready' to assert the subject's innocence and quell my doubt.
I asked the Interviewer to go and refresh herself, have some water, or better, something to eat, and then we would 'debrief' the interview.
Blood sugar levels or lack of food causes exhaustion.
Collected and having had something to eat, we sat down to go over her voluminous notes that appeared impeccably taken.
"I know that thing you teach about denial. She denied it easily and without a lot of words."
I said, "Great! let's go over it together from your notes." I get a sense of relief when an innocent person is cleared, but had no expectation in this case.
I asked, "She said "I didn't take the drugs" as we talked about, using the formula?
She said, "Yes, and I took careful notes."
We then reviewed each "denial" that was issued in four hours of interviewing.
The Interviewer was shocked to learn that the subject did not, a single time, issue the reliable denial.
In the follow up interview, the subject confessed.
The Interviewer had found great empathy for the subject and was emotionally committed to clearing her, but came face to face with the statistical truth: the Reliable Denial must have all three components but if it has four, or two, it is not reliable. For the most part, each time the subject said, with a kind look upon her face, "I wouldn't do such a thing" and "I never took the drugs" and "I've never stolen anything in my life", she piled up 4 hours worth of unreliable denials.
In training, even the most obstinate opponent comes to surrender to the truth. This is a major turning point and when a detective has years of experience, and excellent intuition, he becomes addicted to Statement Analysis. His or her experience and intuition, when met with Statement Analysis and Analytical Interviewing, becomes a strong man...
now on steroids.
He becomes a "power house" who's intuition is now governed by "rules"; many of which he instinctively knew and used, but is now focused with laser-like precision, confident of the principles, and able to explain why he knew the subject was lying.
There is that "light bulb" or "crisis experience" for some, as no one likes being lied to, and now I can over come the lying, and the resistance in the interviewing, by following the same guidelines in every case assigned to me as well as having a host of other detectives approaching him or her for assistance.
It is a career changer.
In this case, we expected Brooks Houck (the subject) to tell Nancy Grace (the Interviewer) that he did not cause the disappearance of his fiancé.
It is our expectation.
It is also the 800 lb gorilla in the living room, with everyone waiting for him to say so.
Yet, regarding the "cause", we deal with component number three:
1. The pronoun "I"
2. The past tense "did not" or "didn't" (Reid's distinction between the two is not accurate)
3. The allegation specifically answered.
By denying "causing" her to "disappear" we may have:
but we may also have:
d. something that caused her to run off, such as an argument, that led to her demise. We must be open to this possibility.
The family is waiting upon answers.
These all violate the formula of Reliable Denial. They may be true, but we cannot conclude, statistically, anything from them:
"I would never harm Crystal."
"I didn't do nothing to anybody."
"I know I didn't cause Crystal's disappearance."
"I never harmed that woman."
"I am innocent."
"I am 100% honest in everything I say."
"I am 100% not guilty in this."
Sometimes an "unreliable denial" accompanies a reliable denial.
"I didn't take the drugs." Later in the interview, the subject says, " I've never even used drugs in my life!"
The first part is reliable. It is "stand alone" that is, not coupled with the latter statement which would have moved it, statistically, by "adding" to the denial.
If you have ever been accused of something you didn't do, and the action accused is something that you have never done in your life, you might find both of these statements in your language.
Secondly, after noting that he did not deny causing Crystal's disappearance, we look at the "pace" of the interview.
In training, we measure statements by their "form", that is, with the mathematical application of "25/50/25" noting that a truthful account of "what happened" will have approximately:
25% of the words (or lines) dedicated to the pre-event;
50% of the words (or lines) dedicated to what actually happened;
25% of the remaining words (or lines) dedicated to what happened afterwards, including calling 911, and so on.
Any strong deviation is noted for deception, with an overwhelming statistic that says "front loaded statements are the most cited imbalance in deception" meaning that most statements that are "tested deceptive on their form" have lengthy introductions such as:
The subject used 65% of his words telling us what happened before he got to the main event, and only 20% of his words to say what happened. This was then concluded by 15% of the statement dedicated to what happened right after the main event. 65/20/15 is "Unreliable Form" in the measurement.
We also measure the Pace of a Statement in not only indicating deception but learning precisely where to aim our questions, within a statement, to find out the details of the deception. This can make a detective's job efficient and accurate in ways not previously thought possible.
Here is some of the questions from the interview that suggest measuring the pace:
GRACE: Mr. Houck, what happened the night Crystal goes missing exactly?
"Exactly" is not necessary and signals 'suspicion' to him. This let him know that the 800 lb. gorilla in the living room needs to be addressed. Houck knew, as the last person to see her, that he is under suspicion.
Guilty people do, in deed, show up for polygraphs and television interviews. They have a need to persuade that belies weakened confidence; a confidence that comes from knowing "it can't be proven because I didn't do it" type of thinking. Recall the ancient, "the righteous are as bold as a lion" while the "unrighteous" try to put on a show of boldness.
Avoid tipping your hand to subjects. The question is "the night":
Note: NG called her "Crystal", making it easy for him to parrot her name.
HOUCK: Earlier that day, she showed rental property. She went to Wal- Mart.
There is much to discuss in this response, alone, so for detail, please see the analysis. Recall that his blog only analyzes public statements. This statement was on national television and by appearing, Mr. Houck invites listeners to have an opinion:
Do you believe me, or not?
Here, we give answer, but with the reason why we believe, or not believe, someone.
When someone goes outside the boundary of the question, the information given is highly sensitive.
For example, he was asked what happened "the night" Crystal went missing.
Question: Did he answer what happened "the night"?
Answer: No, he avoided it.
Conclusion: The question, "what happened the night she went missing?" is a very sensitive question to Brooks Houck.
We say, off the cuff, that when someone does not answer a question, he has answered the question.
I always remind a subject that he has right to the presence of a lawyer. This has, sometimes, been met with chagrin from fellow investigators who remind me, "He's already said he didn't need a lawyer, what are you doing reminding him?"
I know what I am doing.
I am protecting his rights and treating him the way I would want my own son to be treated.
Plus, in Analytical Interviewing, he could have a team of lawyers present and I'll still get the information. My experience in court tells me that it is a powerful statement. Even when an attorney present says to his client, "Don't answer that question!" I respond to the subject, "I will note that he does not want you to answer me when I asked..."
The liar will speak up. They do.
Remember: They have been practicing their craft their entire lives and are so used to success that their pride demands that they continue to speak out.
The truthful person who "did it", hates the burden of silence, as well, and often will speak up. This usually ends in a plea bargain of sorts since the person feels guilt, and does not want to lie, but more than anything else: wants closure.
He answered her question about the "night" by avoiding it entirely, instead choosing to "back up" his time line to include the day.
Critical here is that I do not know if Nancy Grace interrupted him with her next question. This is a disaster if your goal is information. It reminds me of the story of the stolen safe where the "analytical detective" was called in, late at night, after the others could not get the subject to confess. He came in, groggy, and listen to the subject talk for hours about fishing...his fishing pole, his technique, his lures, his bait and so on.
As he blathered on and on about fishing, he also mentioned his favorite fishing spot.
The detective, with his training, sent divers to that location and recovered the stolen money. This is "leakage" and it comes when you let someone talk.
The events were not of the "night" (avoidance = sensitivity) but he began of the day (new information that appears irrelevant is now "doubly important") to the Interviewer.
1. "She showed rental property"
2. "She went to Walmart."
He is stalling getting to the night, which speaks to "measuring the pace of a statement."
In the United States, we use 8.5" by 11" paper. The average written statement is one to one and one half pages, and generally covers between 12 and 16 hours of time. Therefore, the mathematical formula is:
1. An average of 3 lines of information dedicated to each passing hour of time within the statement. This is called Lines Per Hour (LPH) and can be measured by Words Per Hour (WPH) with the same results.
2. Where the lines per hour goes below 1 line per hour, deception is likely present at this point of the statement. Therefore, this sentence, for example, or period of time, is critical and if the investigator "only knows" that, for example, between "2PM and 3PM, the subject wrote only a few words, skipping over it quickly" therefore:
keeps asking about "What happened at 2 o'clock?" only to find the subject getting annoyed, the detective continues in his questioning, but refuses to leave this hour.
"I know you already told me what you did at 2. Tell me again."
On to, "I want to go back to 2 o'clock again." (increase in agitation)
And then: "Yes, thank you. At 2 o'clock, you said..."
The subject, having committed the crime between the hour of 2PM and 3PM, now believes that you, (the investigator/interviewer/detective/therapist/HR professional/insurance investigator/journalist)
knows he did it and is more likely to admit (or confess) because he cannot bear you being "one up" on him, that is, "superior" to him.
Why is this?
This is something many interviewers know without training, but are helped by the training.
The liar holds you in contempt, just as the liar holds the world in contempt.
When the liar was in kindergarten and got away with his lie, he felt 'superior' to his teacher. Next, he felt superior to his Little League coach, his pastor, his parents, his...and over time, this superiority shows itself not only in his language, but his body language, with the elevated chin ("looking down one's nose) and even in his walk.
For him to sit across the room from you and to have you "know" something that he did not "tell you", that is, he did not directly reveal, triggers the arrogance within him.
The only way to feel "superior" would be to do the one thing that a liar cannot do.
Question: What is the one thing a liar cannot do?
Answer: A liar is unable to lie about his his lie.
Thus, the principle of "no man can lie twice" in Statement Analysis.
Thus, the wisdom of the overly simplistic questions such as,
"How did you feel when you were told that police suspected you?" and similar questions.
Thus, the wisdom of "Why should we believe you?" in the 99.9% plus statistic.
When lines per hour goes to 1 Line per hour or less, the interview is focused right there which causes the subject to think, "This guy knows!"
3. Where the lines per hour (LPH) goes above 9 lines in an hour, we know that it is very likely that deception is present later on in the statement. This is because:
a. Lying causes stress as it interrupts the speed of transmission of words
b. Being caught in a crime causes stress; therefore; talking about the crime is stressful, so the subject slows down the pace of the statement or he slows down the pace of the interview to avoid getting to the most stressful part of the day (or night).
In training, I give out real (redacted) statements where the subject wrote things like,
"At 1PM, I went to lunch with a friend and got back to the office at 2PM. At 2, met with boss. At 4PM, I had to file all the paperwork related to the sale that happened last month. At 5PM, I was done for the day and packed up the final envelops for overnight staff to handle."
This portion showed time from 1PM to 5PM, or four hours of her day.
1. 1PM to 2PM: 17 words.
2. 2PM to 4PM: 5 words.
3. 4PM to 5PM: 18 words.
(This is only an exert)
Even from this abbreviated portion of her day, you can see that from 1PM to 2PM she gives details of her day which took her 17 words to do so. At 4PM she gives an account of her work day and used 18 words, similar to 1PM.
Yet, from 2PM until 4PM, a span of two hours, she used only 5 words.
Based only upon this:
a. 1PM to 2PM is 17 words per hour
b. 2PM to 4PM is 2.5 words per hour
c. 4PM to 5PM is 18 words per hour.
The interviewer is going to aim his questions during this time period as the most sensitive part of the day to the subject. Those familiar with statement analysis already know:
*Her relationship with her boss, during this period of time, is very negative. This is due to the principle of social relationships. Here, it is not "my boss, Mr. Smith", but " boss" which not only has the missing article, "the" but deprives him of his name, and his status to her (no possessive pronoun "my").
*Her meeting with the boss has no pronoun which means that whatever took place, in this period of time means:
a. She may not have met with him; therefore this must be confirmed.
b. If she met with him, she has "removed herself" psychologically, the way teens drop pronouns to their moms or teachers when they do not wish to be caught.
Statement Analysis measures time within a statement and also the element of time known as "pace" of a statement to discern if the subject is deceptive via withholding information.
Even with interruption by Nancy Grace, we can see that there is a need to 'slow down the pace' of the statement about what happened "the night" Crystal went missing.
This means that:
a. The "night" is something he wishes to avoid
b. He is likely telling the truth about where she was
c. He did not do anything that would produce severe guilt (directly related to her disappearance during this time period while she was at Walmart, even though it is important to him. *He had the need to say he was not there at that time).
This slowing down of the pace, that is, avoidance of "getting to the night time" indicates that deception is coming, and that deception is not present "now", that is at this point. He may be withholding information, for example, about any phone contact or physical contact someone else (or himself, via phone) had with her, at that time, but it is an indirect cause (such as an argument) but not something that has a strong need to avoid. If, for example, they argued on the phone, he is not saying so, but in comparison to the night, it is 'less' stressful than what happened that night.
This may appear complex but human relations are complex and it takes time and effort to get to the truth.
GRACE: With who? (sic)
HOUCK: We have established a timeline of all the facts and events.
Even if he did not hear her, he still avoids the night. Remember, she asked for the night, "exactly" in her question. He also 'retreated' to the pronoun "we" rather than to speak for himself.
Mothers of 3rd graders know this one well. "What did you do, Johnny?" is met with "We all..." and Momma has an idea in her head that her little Johnny wishes to 'spread around' some of the guilt and responsibility for whatever it is that he did.
GRACE: Who did she go to Wal-Mart with, Brooks? (sic)
HOUCK: I was not there at Wal-Mart with them. She had some of the children with her.
No use of the name, "Crystal", thus far.
Instead of answering the question first, his order reveals priority: he wishes to remove himself from the question. NG did not say, "Did you go with her?" but asked the more general (better; legally sound, etc) "Who did she go to Walmart with, Brooks?"
Our order tells priority: the question is answered (reducing sensitivity to it via answering) but it is psychologically a priority to Brooks Houck that he create distance between himself and Crystal. Here is it "physical" distance, while above, with the word "that", it was emotional or psychological.
("Can you give me a pencil? No, not that one, but this one" where the closer one is called for. This is the nature of "this" and "that" in language. Also note that when someone says, "I didn't do that" the next question should always be, "What did you do?" as children often "did something" but it just wasn't "that" which was done. This is another of those "parental instinct" matters that highlight how children are born with the inclination to lie and must be taught not to).
GRACE: Mm-hmm. OK.
She is 'on the spot' with cameras and a ticking clock with a commercial break. This is not easy. Yet, she likely was thinking, 'Why would he need to first tell me he wasn't there?' to herself. It's odd and the 'awkward' feel that people get is often an indication of sensitivity.
HOUCK: Yes, ma`am.
GRACE: That`s important, Brooks, because as you know, with your interest in law enforcement, it establishes a timeline. So that was Friday around 4:00 p.m. then what happened after Wal-Mart?
She returned to her original question that has been thus avoided: what happened the night she disappeared?
To avoid answering a question is to indicate sensitivity to the question. It allows the person to avoid the internal stress of direct lying and it seeks to change the topic to move away from the stressful portion found within a specific time, which here, is "the night..."
HOUCK: When she left Wal-Mart on Friday, late afternoon, early evening, she showed a rental property that we have listed, in the Kentucky standard, in a large ad, multiple properties. She then left that and preceded home.
No use of the name "Crystal" yet.
See specific analysis for detail. For here, however, we note that he continues to add in detail (all relevant but lesser importance than what the question asked for: that night, exactly) slowing himself and Nancy Grace from arriving at the "night" time portion of the question.
This is to raise the "lines per hour" or "words per hour" (the pace of the Interview) which tells us:
He is avoiding getting to the period of time Nancy asked him about: "the night":
GRACE: So that was Friday evening. What time did she get home, Brooks?
His avoidance, via slowing the pace down with extra detail, is 'forcing' the Interviewer to now ask specific questions.
We begin with open-ended, legally sound questions, and only move to more specific when the subject is reluctant or unwilling to tell us of his own accord. This is where we must use extreme caution to not contaminate his statement with our language.
HOUCK: After 5:00.
Note the original question was not only about "the night" but NG asked for "exactness" in his answer. He, of great detail of who placed the ad, where the ad was placed and the size of its content compared to other ads, has gotten to the beginning of "the night" and is suddenly vague. This is a change to be noted by the Interviewer.
GRACE: After 5:00. And what, if anything, did she do at that time?
Every interview, including job hiring, 911 calls, journalism, etc, is a lesson, which is an opportunity to learn.
Every interview also has a 'concessionary feel' to it, where the Interviewer is left with one of two impressions:
Either the subject is working with me to help the flow of information or he is not.
He is either facilitating information or he is hindering it. See former police chief William McCollum's 911 call in which he shot his wife, New Year's eve, 2014, analysis for the "pulling of teeth" interview in which the subject does everything he can to withhold information while attempting to appear 'cooperative.'
HOUCK: It was a normal -- normal evening. At that point, she showed the property and came home.
I present a number of examples in training where the word "normal" is used in the free editing process. In every example, whether it be about a situation, or about a person, himself, the conclusion fits the principle:
The subject is telling Nancy Grace, as well as the audience (which includes investigators) that he knows that this night was anything but normal.
What did he just reveal?
Had she said, "Was it just a normal evening?", his use of "normal" would not be flagged for sensitivity, but parroting language. (This is why if you introduce "normal", you, as the Interviewer, lose information).
He is proclaiming without saying, 'I have knowledge that I do not want to share with you that this night was not normal, therefore, I want you to think it was normal, but it wasn't. I am nervous about this, because it is a lie, so I stutter on it while I am not one who stutters generally. This night was not even close to normal, but I hope you think it was. Maybe now you can see why I have slowed down the pace and am avoiding getting to the night that you wanted to know about especially since you suspect me with your use of 'exactly' as if I would not be exact in my answer. I have a need to persuade you and everyone listening that this was normal. '
Please note this is not a quote; as indicated in the punctuation.
The "need to persuade" (NTP) which is appropriately used in sales, job applications, etc, is a weakness in the context of actual innocence and truth telling.
GRACE: Well, what day of the week was this?
HOUCK: This was on Friday, would have been July 3rd, 2015.
We would not conclude closeness from "this" because he repeated her word. It does stand as a good example, however, for us to see parroting language in action.
Parroting is normal and appropriate, and it is a strong habit of us all. This is why it is imperative to be trained how to frame questions based upon analysis.
GRACE: Did you have July 4th plans?
HOUCK: Yes, we did.
GRACE: What were they?
HOUCK: My uncle, Fabian Ballard, and Loreto, about 49, had a large gathering at his home. My mother has a very large family, there`s 13 brothers and sisters, and we -- we had planned on going there on Saturday, July 4th.
See full analysis.
Note complete social introduction of uncle with (1) possessive pronoun "my" (2) title "uncle" and (3) name given. This is to indicate a very good relationship between the subject and his uncle at the time of this statement.
This is not simply a study in introductions, but should be noted that he has not yet used the name, "Crystal" in the interview.
Please continue to note, however, that he is giving out details that are unnecessary as he 'eats up the clock' of the interview, slowing the pace down, avoiding getting to the area that was the topic of the original question: the night she went missing.
His avoidance is extreme. What is missing? The height and weight of relatives? It seems silly because it is a tactic of delay and it is an insight into the subject's personality:
He is detail orientated.
He is also likely to be reported to be, by friends and/or family, a habitually deceptive person. This is evident in that he is intelligent, and knows what he is doing in the pace setting. This comes from years of successfully "getting one over" others.
GRACE: Did you go?
HOUCK: Yes, I did. I went with my family.
GRACE: And what time that was?
Trying still to get him to the sensitive time period that was asked when all of this began.
HOUCK: That was about 5:00 or 5:30 on Saturday --
GRACE: OK. Let me understand the timeline, Mr. Houck.
So on Friday night, she shows a property in the evening, well, the evening, she gets home after 5:00.
HOUCK: No. Incorrect. Incorrect.
GRACE: No? OK. Explain.
HOUCK: Friday evening.
GRACE: Friday? Yes, that`s what I said.
HOUCK: July 3rd.
GRACE: Correct. That`s what I said.
HOUCK: She showed the property. And then on -- you asked me if we had plans just on July 4th, which was in the following day on Saturday.
He shows his detailed orientated personality and a strictness to 'staying in script.'
A self reference, "like I said" or "like I told the other officer" is a signal that the subject is speaking, not from experiential memory, but memory of what was said earlier. Here, he shows he remembers the words of NG.
GRACE: Right. Right. That`s what I just said.
HOUCK: Yes, ma`am.
GRACE: So Friday evening, she shows the property at a multi-property spot that had been advertised in the standard. She gets home after 5:00 and what children, if any, did she have with her at that time?
NG was listening.
HOUCK: Two children.
Here the flow is from a short answer but I cannot tell if she interrupted him or he was now in the "pulling teeth" mode of resistance, not through delay (passive) but through minimization (saying as little as possible).
The abundance of detail signals the greater intellect of the two. The short, curt, responses from former chief McCollum, in avoiding even using the words "wife" and "Maggie" (her name) show a discomfort with deception. This subject, with his abundance of detail, shows confidence in his script. He may not have been prepared for this portion.
GRACE: And --
HOUCK: The other two children had already been dropped off at their dad`s house.
GRACE: And what did you guys do for supper that night?
In Statement Analysis, food is important. For example, "I woke up, had coffee..." includes "coffee."
Simply, when we hear "coffee", we seek to learn if the person was not alone, since most of us drink coffee, but when someone feels the need to include it in their statement, they are often thinking of the conversation or presence of someone else during that time period. In the rare times when someone denies the presence of another, it has come up that they were deceptive due to infidelity.
HOUCK: We just ate here -- we ate here at the house.
The location is important to him. This brings us a bit of focus at the "house" (not "home")
GRACE: Did she cook?
HOUCK: For about an hour and a half and then we left here about 7:30.
A strong signal of missing information of something prior to 7:30.
GRACE: Did she cook that night?
HOUCK: You`re cutting out on me. I didn`t hear what you just said, ma`am.
GRACE: Oh, I`m sorry. Did she cook that night, Brooks?
HOUCK: She did not. We just ate here at the house. It wasn`t anything special or new anything like that. We knew that we had plans, wasn`t going to kill a lot of -- kill a lot of time and then we proceeded -- we proceeded out there to the family farm.
No use of name, "Crystal", nor "my fiancé" either.
"She did not" is strong. This indicates a confidence here that comes when one is telling the truth.
The subject reports what they didn't have to eat, and specifies that it wasn't "special" or "new." He avoided using the word "normal" as attempt to persuade. That the meal was not anything "special" or "new" is very likely to be truthful.
Remember: We all have, on average about 25,000 words in our internal dictionary. When we are telling someone what happened, the brain chooses only a few words from this massive dictionary, and chooses where to place them, what tenses to use, and what words not to use:
The process takes place in the brain in less than a micro-second in time.
In other words, the process of what words to use, what words not to use, what information to give, what information not to give, where to place the words, and what conjugation of the words to use, to best communicate, is all done with incredible speed by the brain.
This gives us our high rate of accuracy in Statement Analysis surpassing, even, a well trained polygrapher.
Now, the "brain knows what it knows" (Kaaryn Gough) and while talking the person who "did it" does not want to reveal " I did it" but wants to avoid it. While doing this exercise in avoidance, the person is still thinking about what he did; the brain is in 'double duty' mode.
This is sometimes used in humor but it reflects a tangible possibility: While trying to deceive one may inadvertently "leak out" what actually happened.
In the murder of Dylan Redwine, his father Mark employed terminology that although intended one thing, revealed another: he revealed an unintended death that came as a result of arguing with his young son, likely about his mother, Elaine, whom Dylan loved and likely defended to his father, enraging the narcissistic deviant and the "silencing", physically, of Dylan.
That he said the word "kill" is not only unexpected given the circumstances, but that his brain produced it twice is alarming. The word "kill" is, therefore, "sensitive" to him, as any repletion would be, but given the unnecessary use of it ("kill time")
AND that it comes in a broken sentence we have:
1. The introduction of the word "kill" itself, is by him and not by the Interviewer. It is his word. This is an indication of the Free Editing Process.
2. The sensitivity found in repetition of the word "kill"
3. The unnecessary element of "kill time" in the sentence
4. The self-censoring of the broken sentence "kill"
5. The form of introduction is in the negative, that is, what they were not going to do, rather than what they would do
6. The time period of entrance into the "night" which he sought to delay
This comes together to a most alarming portion of the statement, itself:
In the follow up interview, I would let the subject "explain himself" regarding this point. Next, I would use the phrase myself. This is a form of "challenge" to the deceptive subject, and is one of which the ego often drives them to "interview sabotage", which is why most confessions or admissions come in the subsequent interview.
If he killed her, he certainly "telegraphed it" linguistically here.
Note that he has not used her name, nor title, nor possessive pronoun.
Crystal did not go with him. We now note that there is a separation between him and Crystal.
He went with "his" family, not hers, nor "ours." He introduced a new word into the text.
GRACE: OK. Now. On July 4th I thought was the family farm get-together, no?
HOUCK: Well, the Fourth, that right there is another family member.
GRACE: Oh, I get it.
HOUCK: That we went to.
GRACE: I get it. So that night, you get back and what was she doing when you went to bed?
HOUCK: She was playing games on her phone.
He is finally pushed to "the night" after an acutely slowed down pace and still will not use her name. This is critical distancing language from a "missing" "loved one" by the one closest to her.
She "was playing" (ongoing, passing of time) and not She "played on her phone."
What does this difference imply?
Note that Crystal is not "Crystal" nor any other name, but "she", still, at this point. We are in "the night" that was so avoided, and now we are getting short answers to the question; gone are the details of the advertisements, or ages of relatives, but the pace is
strongly quickened here.
GRACE: Really? OK. Where was the baby?
HOUCK: The baby was still up.
For the baby to be "still" up, would tell us one of two things:
a. "still" up because this is not the norm for the baby to be up this late. This is the most natural thing for any of us to say. We were trying to get him to sleep but recognizing that he was "still" up tells us that it is beyond the norm or the attempted.
b. IF this is the baby's norm, then we have a major red flag: What was he "still" up for, that is, in comparison to an event? This is ONLY applicable if it is the baby's norm to be up late.
GRACE: OK. And who -- who had the baby while she was playing games?
HOUCK: He was just running loose in the house.
He avoided the question entirely, making the question itself sensitive. He does not say that Crystal was watching the baby.
Question: Was Crystal able to watch the baby at this time?
HOUCK: If a light`s still on in the living room, he is not going to go to bed until all the lights are out. So if there`s still activity going on in the home, he is going to stay it up with me.
He does not say the light was on, nor does he say much of anything other than what generally happens. This is outside the boundary of telling us what happened and shows a need to explain What kept the baby up? He does NOT say directly
Also: Statement Analysis recognizes the correlation to "lights" in statements, to sexual activity. This is introduced by him, not by Crystal and must be explored in the investigation. see analysis for more.
He does not say the lights were on and the baby was still up, but only a hypothetical scenario. This is to avoid saying it directly and to move outside the boundary of "what happened the night she went missing?" question posed to him, originally, and through follow up questions.
GRACE: Now what time did you go to bed and was she still up playing games on her phone?
avoid asking compound questions. They allow the subject to pick and choose what he wants to answer. Here, he did this very thing:
HOUCK: She was still up playing games on her phone. And it was really close to midnight.
He does not answer the first question. He did not say what time he went to bed nor if he went to bed.
This is to avoid saying, "she played on her phone" in the past tense.
Why "playing games" and not "played"?
GRACE: OK. And was the baby still awake?
HOUCK: Yes, ma`am.
No details. He is moving the pace along quickly; the opposite of the pace set early on, and consistent with the theory of "deception coming later on in the statement" at the point where the pace is slowed down, giving us the signal of upcoming deception.
GRACE: So you go to bed. She is playing phone games and -- was she playing with another person or just by herself?
HOUCK: I`m not aware if she was, you know, texting anybody else or talking to anybody else. I`m under the impression she was just playing one of the games on her phone.
He has not used her name and a separation began when she "did not go" with (he used "we") them.
Is she dead at this time?
"Else" could be himself or someone else, but he does not report her having said anything at this time, to anyone. Is she capable of speaking?
GRACE: And when did you realize --
HOUCK: Just standard and normal for her to do that.
Insult, even subtlety, is a signal of guilt as extremities, such as a missing person, produces the magnanimous 'forgiveness' of letting 'bygones be bygones' because 'all I care about is her!' in thinking.
Whatever Crystal was doing (or not doing), is signaled here by him to be anything but normal.
We may have just seen linguistic indication that Crystal was not alive, as nothing is ascribed to her in the terms used earlier. Even if he does not want to use details, his earlier, truthful speech used regular past tense verbs. Here, he does not, and the change of language represents a change of reality.
GRACE: Brooks, when did you realize, Brooks Houck, that she was gone?
HOUCK: The very next -- the very next morning.
"very next" is:
2. self censored = missing information that he tried to stop.
He has still not used her name. In analysis we find that once someone is dead, their 'activities' in a statement are vague, sensitive, and then we watch what produces her name:
GRACE: So you slept through the whole night and did not realize that she was gone?
HOUCK: That`s true.
[20:47:21] GRACE: Joining me right now in addition to her parents, Tom and Sherry Ballard, her boyfriend that she lived with there in their three-bedroom suburban home, Brooks Houck is with us. So, Brooks, you go to bed and she is still playing games on her phone. The next morning around 8:00, you noticed that she`s missing. Did you report her missing?
HOUCK: No, ma`am.
HOUCK: That is a great question and one that I definitely want the public and the media -- I was not in the least little bit alarmed in any way, shape or form. We have had a stressed relationship at times. And one of the ways that Crystal has always chose to cope or deal with that is by going to -- a young woman`s name, Sabrina, that is her cousin, her dad`s brother`s daughter, whom she is very close to, she spent the night there on several occasion.
You already have the analysis on this answer in detail. Please refer to it for understanding of the commentary to conclude this article.
Her name has finally been produced, therefore, we look at the context of its entry into her language:
With him involved, Crystal Rogers is not:
"my fiancé, Crystal", which has the 3 components of a complete social introduction and a good relationship.
In fact, in his answers, she is not ever "my" anything, (girlfriend or fiance') meaning that he takes no ownership of her.
Nor is she "Crystal", that is, a person with a name until (this is very important) she is with someone else, "Sabrina", who gets not only a name, but title, (cousin), which is much more than Crystal received from him.
With him, she is without name, possessive pronoun, and without title.
With someone, she is "Crystal."
Also note, she is a "person" (Crystal) not presently, but in the past, of what she had previously done, yet even here avoids a specific past; just a general what she used to do. I examine this a bit more, including the subtle insult, below.
GRACE: When you say several, do you mean one, three, 20?
HOUCK: In the neighborhood of four to six.
HOUCK: Something like that.
Brooks, did you go on to the July 4th get-together that day?
HOUCK: Yes, I did.
This is not the analysis, by way of reminder, but we are viewing the possibility that Crystal may no longer be alive, within the words of Brooks Houck.
GRACE: Even though you didn`t know where she was?
The challenge is not knowing her location. Does he know her location?
HOUCK: Well, I was expecting -- I had put in a phone call that morning and then around lunch and usually, the maximum period of time that she has stayed gone has only been like a day to a day and a half, at the most. And as a result of that, I thought that she would --
The analysis addressed the issue of 'scripting' which you may review. Here, however, we are asking, "Is Crystal alive" during this period of time?
We note that he does not say "I called Crystal"
We note that he does not say "I called her", which is to directly call her, using the pronoun that he has been more comfortable using.
In fact, he does not call "anyone."
In statement analysis, we say that the investigator must list "all the names" in a statement, on the margin of the paper.
This list includes "phone calls" for a simple reason:
Phone calls or "phones" are people, in communication.
Here, he does not call "Crystal" but only "puts in a phone call" (which sounds both scripted and alibi building--see analysis)
GRACE: Did you try to call her?
HOUCK: -- join us. I`m sorry, I didn`t hear you, ma`am. GRACE: Did you try to call her during that time?
HOUCK: Not while I was there -- there at the -- at the Fourth. I called her prior to leaving to head in that direction, yes, ma`am.
Here, he is asked a follow up and must revisit "putting in a call" and says,
1. "Not while I was there", which begins in the negative, regarding location.
2. "I called her prior to leaving to head in that direction",
This is instead of saying, "I called her" or simply, "yes."
The first avoided a person, but here, he calls a person (avoiding her name) but the location becomes critical: not there, but before (chronological order comes from experiential memory), which emphasize time.
If she was dead, putting in a call is an indication that he knows she is dead.
Objection: But next he says he called her; doesn't that nullify your theory?
Answer: He parroted Nancy Grace.
When we recall what we did, truthfully, we report back what we did from experiential memory, using chronological order.
He began his assertion of "putting in a call" which is to avoid a person. This came from his own words. When Nancy Grace asked specifically, "did you call her?" he then answers with her words, reducing his own commitment.
You cannot call a dead person.
He parroted her, but this is not true, and this produces an awkward response:
When pressed, he gives location, first, and then, changes chronological order, indicating deception, leading us to ask, again, about not only scripting answers (which do not come from experiential memory, but from a script, which can get lost in memory) but if this deceptive response is because Crystal could not be called; Crystal, herself, rather than her phone.
3. "prior to leaving to head..." is "leaving" of a place, giving it "blue" (high sensitivity) connected to why, not where, he was heading. "to head in that direction" is to explain why he was going in a specific direction
This suggests that he had another direction to another place in mind and it is awkward sounding because it did not proceed from experiential memory. "Putting in a call" is his language, "call to her" is Nancy Grace's language.
To "put in a call" does sound scripted and obligatory, but it may be consistent with her death coming that night "very close to midnight."
GRACE: Some people have accused you of not being involved enough in the search efforts. What`s your response?
HOUCK: That is a great question and one I certainly appreciate you asking me. And that is all of my effort in searching for her has been done behind the scene. With the Nelson County Sheriff`s Office.
Noted that he avoided issuing a denial. In Statement Analysis, if a subject cannot bring himself to say he did not do it, we will not say it for him.
GRACE: What? What?
HOUCK: Detective Snow who is leading the investigation and Jason Allison who is a deputy there assisting him along with the Kentucky State Police Agency Post Number 12.
Names are used to persuade just how 'cooperative' he is underscoring the need to persuade.
GRACE: My question was what you had been doing with them. Let me ask you this. I know that you agreed to take a polygraph. Did you pass?
HOUCK: Because of the way that the lines or whatever were they, they determined it to be inconclusive. I`m not exactly sure what that means.
But they did tell me it does mean that I wasn`t lying or I didn`t pass it or I didn`t fail it. They just ruled it inconclusive and that is exactly the way it stands.
I have been 100 percent completely honest with everyone. I have been 100 percent cooperative in everything that has been asked of me. I have not asked for any kind of legal advice or assistance or an attorney of any nature. I`m 100 percent completely innocent in this. And I have exhausted
my efforts with the law enforcement agencies to gather all the facts necessary to allow me to have a clean name again. That`s very important to me. I have not responded to a lot of the negativity and all of this animosity because I want the emphasis to remain on Crystal`s safe return home. And that`s where I want it to stay focused in that area rather than dealing with any of the animosity between the families.
We have "Crystal" again.
During the entire period before "the night she went missing", the name "Crystal" is avoided.
Nor does he say "my", nor "Girlfriend/fiance" in his language.
When "Crystal" emerges, she is not with him, nor in contact with him, she is at a cousin's house (in his language).
Here, where is Crystal? It (the name, "Crystal") is now, finally, associated with Brooks Houck, and in context, is about cleaning his name with her safe return.
GRACE: To Tommy and Sherry Ballard, Crystal`s mom and dad, to Miss Ballard, I want to talk about her car and her getting out of that car, and leaving the car in the ignition with her cell phone and pocketbook and a diaper bag still in the car and getting out on the side of the road. What
do you make of that? Because there is no way I would do that.
S. BALLARD: I don`t think Crystal would, either. I can`t see her getting out the car. I can`t see remember once her leaving her baby at home. I can`t see her getting out of the car in the dark, not with a cell phone in her hand or something anyway. She had AAA. She had no reason to get out
of the car. I just -- it don`t make sense.
I left in this one answer just to show how easy it is for someone to use Crystal's name, making it extreme distancing language by its avoidance in the language of Brooks Houck.
GRACE: It doesn`t make sense to me, either, Mr. and Miss Ballard.
Is Crystal Rogers deceased?
The only information to go on to answer this question is the words from the televised interview, which was short, by Nancy Grace in which she interviewed Crystal Rogers' fiance and father of one of her children, Brooks Houck. Therefore, answering this question is limited and challenging, but an opinion does emerge.
1. Distancing language
While Crystal was not missing, she was never referred to as "Crystal", nor as "my girlfriend" or "my fiance'" or any term of endearment. She was only "she" and "her" which is distancing language. You can see how readily family used her name in comparison.
If your loved one was missing, could you go as long without using your loved one's name, title, and connection to you? (the connection is seen in the pronoun "my").
To avoid using the social introduction is to psychologically distance himself from her. Who does this?
a. Guilty parties. This guilt could be from having caused her death, or having argued with her, causing her to fun off, and meet up with trouble.
b. People who cannot bear to talk about the deceased due to pain. Sometimes, people overwhelmed with grief, are in utter denial, while others simply distance themselves from something painful.
In this case, we have not heard of anything prior to the interview in which police told Houck that Crystal was deceased.
Therefore, the distancing language used is concerning. It indicates, in the very least, an acutely volatile relationship; one that is so damaged, that her status of "missing" does not cause the "let's forgive and forget because this is too important" form of crisis that is common.
For example, a mother and daughter are not on speaking terms and mother is rushed to the hospital. The daughter leaves work rushing also, letting "bygones be bygones" with the medical crisis as the reference point. They could 'care less' about their arguments, in light of the 'wake up call' of the present distress.
Brooks Houck shows not only a very bad relationship in his words; one so bad that even her status of missing does not cause him to "put away the differences, and just find her!" mentality but something else, as well:
"Crystal" is a "person" while "she" is distancing language, within Statement Analysis. When is Crystal Rogers "she" and when is she "Crystal" in his answers? You saw family say "Crystal" and then once referenced, she was appropriately "she" in the answer.
We first note that there is no "Crystal" from the time he began "earlier that day" until the end of the event: in fact, if we stay to the event only, she was never "Crystal."
When did "Crystal" appear?
2. Crystal "appears" in his statement, but not after "the night she went missing" in his language but outside of the entire statement in which he tells what happens in answer to the original question.
She is not "Crystal" conducting real estate, going to Walmart or "playing" on her phone (not "played"). Remember, we are entering his portrayal of reality; not reality. We are seeking to enter into his mind, not the facts.
She showed a rental.
She went to Walmart.
But once the night came, she did not "played on her phone" but "was playing" (ongoing) yet will still de-personalized by not having a name.
Her name emerges outside of "what happened", and in two settings:
1. When she is with her cousin, she is "Crystal" (not not "when she was with" because he does not reference a specific time, only what she 'does' when she gets upset, with the negative portrayal of a mother abandoning her children. Please note that any subtle blaming of the victim by a suspect is a red flag of guilt, showing a rough conscience.
2. When she can "clean" his name by her same return, she will become "Crystal" again, that is, she will be given a "name" in his language. I do not bet on her coming home to clean his name.
You will note that he puts her on her phone, "playing games", that is, he:
a. has no knowledge of what game she played
b. admits that no one, not even himself, was watching the baby
c. reports no quotes from her
d. reports no communication from her to anyone else, including text messaging
He linguistically mutes Crystal Rogers.
Brooks Houck is deceptively withholding information regarding the disappearance of Crystal Houck.
He consistently used distancing language to Crystal, and was incapable or unwilling to issue a Reliable Denial (RD). He has indicated no connection to Crystal, nor to the children, but makes sure that we know he has a connection to the rental property. Brooks Houck is not telling everything he knows about what happened to Crystal.
He resists getting to "the night" in question by slowing down the pace, and he is indicated for deception in the analysis, via withholding information.
Is Crystal deceased?
I do not know if she is deceased, however, the portrayal which Brooks Houck uses suggests that she is, and that he, himself, has a need to deceive, and more so, a need to distance himself from her , but then, he is willing to 'bring her to life' as a 'person' (using her name) in two places only; both hypothetical and both outside of the boundary of the question, "what happened the night...?"
Also, that "night" in question, he gives us no indication she is alive with truthful, past tense statements. She went to Walmart. She showed rentals. These are straightforward statements that are statistically, very likely to be true.
When he gets to the night in question, the detail orientated subject stops detail, and after dinner, "I'm under the impression she was just playing on her phone" is to use additional language to answer the question instead of saying, "I don't know" or "no, she didn't talk to anyone."
This has the feel of avoiding a direct stress producing lie.
Here is the summary:
1. In the interview, he slows down the pace early on. This is an indication of upcoming deception, which is stress producing and desirable to avoid.
2. Once he arrives at the stressful point, his use of detail disappears and he uses short sentences, with the exception of his own assertion of innocence and truth, which are all heavily weighted in persuasion, indicative of deception.
3. How someone describes a dead person in Statement Analysis shows a change in language which points to a possible time of death.
a. Before "the night", he used pure past tense language.
b. On "the night", we have little activity and only "was playing" rather than "played"
c. We have her connected to people, including her kids before;
d. That night, she is connected to no one; not even the baby
e. We have no quotes, nothing a living person would say, or even be seen typing, or texting
f. We have no detail, from one who gave us lots of detail of the "game" that she was alleged to have been "playing"
g. We have no use of her name, in the entire narrative of "what happened"; this is to de-personalize her utterly.
h. Then, when not part of "what happened", she is "Crystal" but not associated with him, but a cousin, and outside the narrative;
i. She is "Crystal" only if she comes home safely and clears his name.
This is extreme distancing language and he does not say what he was doing when no one was watching the baby.
She "was playing games" (not "she played" which would have ended at a certain time, suggesting that she may have, for a short time, played a game on the phone but that is not all she did) and not watching the baby, but he does not say what he was doing instead of watching the baby.
There is not conclusive linguistic evidence to say that Crystal is deceased, but his need to persuade, his loss of detail when he arrives at the sensitive portion of the statement, as well as his deception, bring the question to the forefront, and it is something that must be considered.
If she is a runaway, or if she is a runaway who met with foul play, it is expected that Brooks Houck would have issued a reliable denial, and even admitted that they fought and this caused her to take off.
In his answers, Crystal has "no voice", that is, in dealing with her in connection to him, he gives us no indication of what she said or thought, while never allowing her to be "my", and "fiancé'" or "girlfriend", nor even "Crystal" until she is no longer in his presence, that is, with her cousin, or while missing.
The linguistic signal of change "pre death" and "post death" is not strong by itself. Hence, my lack of firm commitment to an answer.
However, given that he shows no closeness to her, even under such an extreme circumstance, as well as the analysis, itself, showing deception, it is difficult to see this ending well.
This may indicate that his use of "kill time" was, indeed, "leakage" within language rather than poorly chosen words.