Monday, September 14, 2015
Statement Analysis and Child Abuse: DeOrr Kunz Photos
This is because at any given time, a person of intelligence and insight might post something useful to an investigation. Those who love learning, learn.
Therefore, when insults are tossed at "web detectives", "web sleuths" or "internet investigators", it is often by one who wants to dismiss an opinion because of disagreement. Rather than answer the assertion, the forum, itself, is condemned. Guilty parties, defense attorneys, and those with a particularly inordinate attachments to a case may provoke the harshest condemnations.
Within such forums, there is another element which can hinder the flow of knowledge: those desperate for "higher moral ground" positions than others, which is readily evidenced in the sacrifice of truth for "appearance sake."
No matter, there are often enough honest, truth seeking, intelligent people who come at cases with many viewpoints, angles and projected views. Those with strong emotional intelligence often cite their own projection; something I find not only fascinating, but admirable.
The case of missing toddler, DeOrr Kunz has puzzled many.
I have not posted an analysis conclusion that most cases have, and readers have been, in large, generous to me in this matter.
What is it about this case that I have not posted a strong conclusions?
Perhaps another question should accompany this:
Why haven't I given a strong opinion on what happened to little DeOrr?
Before answering these two questions, let's look at the position of child abuse and photographs, which is a topic recently raised. Some have said that the happy photos of DeOrr prove he was not abused or unwanted.
1. Photos are not, by themselves, conclusive.
There are children who are subject to abuse, but are not "unwanted" children, at the same time, even while there are some children who may not suffer physical abuse, but are, in deed, unwanted and this is a powerful form of emotional abuse that can take its form in chronic neglect, or disinterest.
The photo is not always a reliable indicator either way. The best insight into a child's life is the words of the parents, in particular, how they relate to the child.
I often say, "this parent likes her child", which raises a few eyebrows. I then explain that most all parents "love" their children, but it is those that "delight in them", or quite simply, "enjoy spending time" with their children who do so much better at parenting. What we like, we repeat.
For one, "the terrible twos" is something to "get through", while to another, it is a time of heightened vigilance, but also heightened humor and exciting exploration time.
Photos are not always definitive.
This means that, at any time, a child can appear happy in a photo which should not lead someone to conclude that he was a wanted or well cared for child. Did you ever notice the instinctive reaction of Jews on their way to death smiling for the camera?
I cringed whenever a defense attorney introduced photos at a child abuse trial as if a single moment in time could tell a story.
In the same sense, a photograph of an injury could be a result of child abuse, or it could be the result of an accident, rough play, sports, etc.
I once had a case where a boyfriend had been accused of beating a toddler to the point of marks on his face.
Having had too many cases like this, I had to remind myself to remain open and let the one thing above all else that I trust in, to guide me: the language.
When asking a subject "What happened?" while looking at the marks on a baby's face, the subject, in this case, a young boyfriend of the baby's mother, had, perhaps, less than average intelligence. Let's guesstimate that he had a vocabulary of 20,000 words, under the scoped average of 25,000 held by most.
In less than a microsecond of time, as I asked this question without even introducing myself or saying anything else to him, his brain told his mouth what to say by:
*choosing what information to reveal to me;
*choosing what words to best convey this information to me;
*choosing what verb tenses and pronouns to use in speaking to me;
*choosing where to place each word, in position to complete sentences
I stared at him as he spoke, noting that this less than average intelligence young male did so without interruption of even the slightest.
He had sat the baby up, and went into the kitchen, and heard a noise, and found the baby on his side, screaming. He picked the baby up and the baby eventually stopped crying.
"On the fly" I noted to myself that his sentences were short, they used the appropriate past tense commitment with the pronoun "I" and the sentences were without noticeable sensitivity indicators. I then continued the interview, beginning with open ended questions only, moving on to questions about the specific language he used and then onto more direct questions.
I took careful notes and "knew", from analysis training, that what I was told was, statistically, "reliable."
I also found some things about the young male I did not like. I remained aware of this and knew that the recorded interview would have to be analyzed to make sure my "on the fly" work matched the written statement from the transcript.
I took photos of his marked up face.
I then presented my information to my superiors who concluded "physical child abuse" by the photos, as they (two) dismissed my analysis that the subject was reliable in his account of what happened. The things I did not like about him, including substance abuse, work ethic, and a few other things, were relevant to the child's life, true, but this investigation was to learn:
did he inflict injury upon the child?
This is what I was charged with learning.
My superiors were certain that this was to be both civil and criminal in scope, and wanted procedural fulfillment for the removal of the child, should the mother "fail to protect" the child from the "abusive" boyfriend.
The photos were sent to an expert who concluded that the injuries "somewhat appear inflicted" and that the explanation of how it happened was "suspect" at best. He did not feel strong in his conclusion, but the marking pattern was strange. He could not conclusively say one way or another. This was not his norm, as I had found him to that point, to have accuracy. I felt somewhat emboldened by his refusal to commit, one way or another. His testimony was something I had come to respect in keeping children safe.
I had a powerful conflict between what I know and understand to be the most reliable form of investigation, versus being instructed on what to do. My analysis said, "The subject did not directly inflict the injuries to the face", while the photographic evidence, and peripheral issues said otherwise.
I returned to the home.
I had the subject set up the entire scenario again for me, while saying nothing about my analysis. I also asked him if he would be willing to take a polygraph, which he was. In it, he would be asked, "Did you cause the injury to the child's face?" of which he said, "But, yes, I did, in that I shouldn't have left the room."
I told him that the polygrapher would interview him and then, together, they would form the questions.
The pictures looked bad.
As he set up the blanket on which the child was seated, I asked him to give me the baby's bottle, pacifier and play things from that morning.
I photographed everything and asked if I could keep the items for a few days.
That night, I wrestled with knowing that in all the interviews I have done, this kid 'fits the bill' of someone who might snap and hit a child but his statements were not even close to 'neutral'; he was truthful.
I then discovered something generally outside my scope. I am a linguistics person; I listen with trained listening to the point where I sometimes put in headphones just to shut things out. I am not an "expert investigator" with a "photographic memory"; for me, seeing the trajectory of a body falling after a suicide will sound like something special, but is as foreign to me as is the New York Jets winning the Superbowl in 2016 is to Jet fans.
But I know language.
His language was not only truthful, it was not the language of child abuse; distancing, violent, etc.
I noticed that the toy the child fell upon was a face and the face had elevated (obnoxious) eyes, nose, mouth, eyebrows, etc.
I took out my kids' clay and molded against it.
It was a perfect match.
I then emailed photographs of the clay model, alongside the other photographs, and photographs of the ugly toy, alongside with the child's weight.
The next day I received his reply: "it fits!"
What appeared to be damning photographs of inflicted abuse were not. I was relieved.
This week, a frightening photograph made international headlines where it appeared that European police were assaulting a migrant, as he hovered over his wife and baby, on railroad tracks. It looked like police brutality.
A day or two later, the "photograph" was revealed to be a stop image from a short video and small, independent media wanted to make certain the photo's context was seen, too.
In it, we see a man shove his wife and baby down to the railroad tracks and jump on them, while police try to stop him.
The agenda driven main stream media used only the photograph to further their own agenda by employing propaganda.
My point with DeOrr:
Photos of happy DeOrr may not prove he was not abused, even as a bruised DeOrr may not prove abuse.
At any given time, even the most horrific child abusers can pull out a Christmas photo of a happy child.
What gives us greater insight is the language, and how a parent relates to a child.
In the following sample I use in training, we see that a child who is abused can have both, a loving status as a daughter, and the distancing, gender specific language found within abuse.
How a parent speaks of a missing child is critical in understanding.
Recall Baby Lisa, who's mother could barely ever utter Lisa's name. It was extreme distancing language. She didn't like her child.
In other cases, we carefully note when, for example, she is "my daughter" and when she is "Jonbenet", or "Hailey" or any number of children who were initially reported "missing" but the language of the parents revealed a need to psychologically distance themselves from the child, in certain contexts.
Deborah Bradley was extreme, however, which revealed that Baby Lisa was not only a victim of "adult time" claimed by Bradley, that Lisa fatally interrupted while Bradley wanted to party, but showed that Lisa was, quite likely, a victim of neglect by Bradley. This is not the norm but more akin to an unwanted child. Bradley didn't "delight" in Lisa.
Some parents will claim "ownership" of the child while speaking of the child, in context, "safe in Heaven", where no abuse exists.
In DeOrr's case, we do not find this extreme distancing language. This does not mean that the parents are truthful or are not responsible for his disappearance; it means that he was not a child from whom they want complete distance from. Even guilty parents will linguistically "embrace" their child under some contexts, but then upon the "guilty context", quickly linguistically distance themselves. The McCanns example this, as does even Haleigh Cummings father, Ronald Cummings.
Ronald Cummins was, as some parents are, abusive to Haleigh, oftentimes out of ignorance. Raised to be slapped in the face, for him, it is his "value" and "norm." He left her with some dangerous people and when it came to drugs and self interest, he chose himself over his daughter. This is not to say that he didn't want her: it was more that he could not handle being a parent, and couldn't be trusted around children while being in authority.
Baby Sabrina comes to mind, as well. Something happened to her, but it does not mean that they did not love her all other days.
In shaken baby cases, it takes only a split second of loss of self control, and the child is gone.
These are situations where something, likely unintended, took place and the guilty negligent parents go into cover up mode. It does not mean that the child was unwanted always. I don't think Jonbenet was unwanted by her mother, but her mother was either unwilling or incapable of protecting her from John Ramsey, which may have some roots in Patsy's own upbringing.
Understanding causes does not excuse responsibility.
Caylee Anthony was an unwanted child who was, as her name suggested, nothing more than a novelty to her mother, from whom the mother loved the attention Caylee brought to her, the mother, but beyond that, "little snot face" was in the way of the mother's life style.
I have used photographic evidence to help prove physical child abuse, while I have also used photographs to clear someone as the above case shows, or the many cases where "it he can cruise, he will bruise" toddlers who loved to explore would often injure themselves in ways where innocent parents were afraid of being falsely accused.
I worked with pediatricians who were trustworthy, not only to me, but to the parents. These professionals did not ever lightly make reports as they had to, on the fly, often make judgements on whether an injury matches the explanation. As mandated reporters, they would say, "I make this as an obligation, but believe the explanation."
I found, overall, a good consistency in their accuracy. Parents would urge me to call the doctor who told them that he or she was obligated to make the report. These usually ended well as doctors often really get to know parents, including risk factors. It is not always, but at least from my experience, quite often their instincts, like teachers, served them well.
The example, here in the form of a test, shows how a change of language can reveal the truth:
Child Abuse Analysis Test
Photographic evidence is useful and can assist in cases, but it is an element of an overall case, even as language is, as well.
An investigator in the above test "knows" that the father abused his own child, yet, even while testifying to "why" (the analysis) he will need more to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, including, perhaps, the testimony of the young girl, which is almost always, problematic to parents.
I have always warned parents of what a defense attorney may do to their child, if the child takes the stand.
The re-victimization can be powerful, and I always encouraged the parents to seek out the assistance of other professionals in gaining an opinion on whether or not the child should take the stand. It is never an easy call.
Those that follow this case are passionate and investigators are wise to be open to the public forums where discussion takes place.
There is always a chance that someone in the family, perhaps even a parent, may, under another name, write in and attempt to influence the mindset.
As to the two questions on why I have not had a strong conclusion and why I have not offered my opinion, the next article will address these questions and ask you what you believe happened to DeOrr.