The father of a 3-year-old boy whose body was found in the woods in Haddon Township last week is not a suspect, and spoke to investigators without a lawyer present, the attorney for D.J. Creato said in an interview Wednesday.
"The police have told me unequivocally that there are no suspects, that my client is not a suspect, and that they're trying to piece together what happened here," said Richard J. Fuschino Jr., a Philadelphia attorney. "And in truth my client and his family are trying to do the exact same thing."
It is interesting to note that the lawyer felt the need to add the unnecessary word, "unequivocally" to his sentence.
Also note the order of his sentences.
"The police told me that my client is not a suspect" would be a very strong statement.
Yet, it is not what he said.
"The police have told me..." instead of "the police told me", which, even in this small change in the verb status, tells us of a 'lengthening of time', which suggests that it took some time to get this information.
What does that mean?
It may be that it took quite a bit of time to get a police officer to say this.
Or, it may have taken time and more than one police officer to say this.
In any case, it is a subtle weakness which is then further weakened by that which is not necessary:
"unequivocally" means, clear, having only one meaning.
Was this part of a much more elaborate conversation?
I am now wondering: during a lengthy conversation or even multiple conversations, did, at some point, police say that his client was not a suspect in a specific allegation within the investigation?
Since, "police said my client is not a suspect" is "clear, and having only one meaning", the importing of the word "unequivocally" means that there must have been a complexity of information within the communication to which the lawyer wishes to 'boil down to a simple conclusion.'
It is not a strong statement as would have been this:
"Police said my client is not a suspect." He has indicated to us that there is more to this than his simple conclusion.
Creato, 22, reported his son, Brendan, missing in a 911 call around 6 a.m. on Oct. 13, causing residents to scour their Westmont neighborhood after police sent out an automated call to the community about the disappearance.
Three hours later, Brendan's body was discovered in the woods near South Park Drive and Cooper Street, about half a mile from his father's apartment.
An autopsy last week was unable to determine a cause of death, and authorities have stayed mostly silent about their investigation. The Camden County Prosecutor's Office said earlier this week that the state medical examiner's office has assisted.
A Creato family friend advised D.J. to hire an attorney to help him navigate through the unfamiliar legal process, not because he has anything to hide, Fuschino said.
"In any situation where you have something this complicated and involved, it is smart and good advice to have a lawyer," Fuschino said.
It sounds pretty simple. A toddler got out while his father was sleeping and was found dead, hence, "my client is not a suspect."
It is not simple, but it is complex and it is involved.
How did the boy die?
How did the boy get out?
Why did the father need to communicate, first, that he just woke up?
What is the father's history?
Has child protective services been involved?
Was the father drug tested?
Did the father polygraph?
What does the house look like?
Was the door locked as claimed?
Toddler don't "leave."
Upon discovering Brendan was missing, Creato called his mother, who lives a block away, and then 911, Fuschino said. The calls happened within minutes, he said.
In the background of the 911 call, Creato's mother, Lisa, can be heard yelling Brendan's name.
"I just woke up and he wasn't in my apartment. I don't know if he wandered out or what happened. I don't know where he is. The door was locked, I guess he unlocked it and left."
The analysis of a 911 call has no special "rules" nor any different set of applications. It simply has the same "expected versus unexpected" setting, with the reference point of the larger context:
The initial report to police about a missing child.
The is the larger, or external context, and is our reference point. We speak that which is most important to us.
For the subject, the first thing he wanted police to know is not that his child is missing, but that he just woke up, which establishes his 'innocence.'
What caused this?
It could be many different things, including a shady background where he felt that this report was clearly going to be looked at as his fault.
One thing it does not show, however, is the priority of his missing child.
Ask yourself, what would you say first?
I asked several new parents recently, from this case, without referencing it.
"Hey, role play with me, for a minute. It is 6 o'clock in the morning, you just woke up, got out of bed, and found ***** (toddler) gone. Here we go:
911, what is your emergency?"
Each parent used similar wording and each parent reported the child first. It was natural.
Granted, it is not real, therefore, there is an absence of hormonal rush, but there are lots of 911 calls as a reference point for analysis.
Recall when Haleigh Cummings, 5, went missing.
Misty Croslin, baby-sitter soon to be step mother called 911:
911: “911, what’s your emergency”
Misty Croslin: “Hi…umm…I just woke up…and our backdoor was wide open and I think…and I can’t find our daughter”
Misty Croslin: “Hi…umm…I just woke up…and our backdoor was wide open and I think…and I can’t find our daughter”
1. It is not expected that an emergency statement would begin with a greeting. See several 911 calls here, including the one made by the Falcon Lake, Texas case of David Hartley by his wife, Tiffany, who re-told the story from the re-make of the re-make of the Hollywood movie, Titanic, to describe her husband's death.
2. Order speaks to priority:
a. I just woke up
b. our backdoor was wide open
c. I can't find our daughter
3. "our" daughter shows need to share, signaling that this is either not the biological mother (it wasn't) and/or the need to share is evidenced. This need to share is not necessarily limited to biology, but is especially noteworthy when a biological parent uses it and has a profound need to share guilt and responsibility. See Deborah Bradley for example.
Would you have said, "...and he wasn't in my apartment"?
This is very unusual language.
Even if he started with "I just woke up", what would be expected?
"My son is missing!" is the number answer.
"I can't find my son!"
That he said he just woke up first, speaks to priority but to then say "he wasn't in my apartment" sounds very much like the avoidance of internal stress that comes from a direct lie:
"he wasn't in my apartment", by itself, (its form) it is very likely to prove reliable.
In fact, we learned that it was a reliable sentence.
He was not in the apartment, he was about a half mile away.
This avoids saying what circumstances caused him to not be in the apartment and it brings the focus on to at what location the child is.
It is supposed to be that the innocent caller does not know where he is.
He knows where he is not, which thus hints to us with the natural, "Well, do you know where he is?" question.
This is the language he chose to use in the call and it is not expected language.
We consider what might sound reasonable, even in a panic.
What if you had been heavily drinking and slept through his normal wake up, and felt guilty about it. What might that sound like?
"911, what is your emergency?"
"My son is missing!"
911: What happened? Where is your son?
Caller: "I don't know! I just woke up and can't find him. I looked everywhere but I can't find him."
911: Did you check outside the house?
Caller: "hell yes! I looked everywhere here. Please hurry. He is only 3 years old! It is cold outside! Last night I was drinking and overslept. Oh please hurry and find him!"
This is just speculation, but it is what most would say.
Addressing concerns that Creato sounded too calm in the call, Fuschino said the father believed Brendan was somewhere near the apartment.
By the time one calls 911, panic has set in and you, the caller know, he isn't near by.
This happened to me, in 1991.
I had 4 children, with my third, a monkey of a boy. I could not find him and ran through the house searching, and calling his name. I searched the front yard and backyard, next door, and finally, down the block in some local stores.
I came to the shocking conclusion: I must call 911.
By then, we used cordless phones and I could not find it, but looked in my young daughter's room where her crib and changing table were.
On top of her changing table, was my little boy, fast asleep.
To climb up on top of the changing table was a feat of no small measure, but he was a superb athlete and had wanted his diaper changed. He was always in a hurry, as to never miss out on playing with his brothers, so he went into the room, climbed up on the changing table (high enough for adults to comfortably change babies) but fell asleep waiting!
The panic I felt, to this day, can come back to me in a flash. By the time I knew to call 911, it was because he was gone.
That this young man called 911 confident that his son was right around the area will likely cause people to roll their eyes. It is quite a stretch.
Yet, it is his need to justify his client's voice inflection that is of concern. If he didn't cause, by negligence, for example, his son's disappearance, and police have simply said, "He is not a suspect", why the need to even explain away the criticism of his calm demeanor?
If I knew my client didn't do it, I would say "I don't know."
Truth is like this. It is strong, confident and often cares not for a need to explain.
We do not use voice inflection in our analysis. I recognize that some people are good at such things, but in terms of "knowing" truth from deception, it is not something that can be scientifically applied, case by case.
I prefer the extreme high percentages of Statement Analysis results, instead.
We use the "speed of transmission" where the brain tells the tongue which words to use in a rapid fashion, and the interruption of such, through awkward or additional wording, to signal to us that more attention is needed, to guide us. This is why "unnecessary" words are so valuable: the subject could have said the sentence without, therefore, what was it that caused the brain to signal to the tongue to add in this unnecessary word?
We know that emotion is the number one impact upon change of language.
We know that the law of economy means that shorter sentences are best, and truth is often stated with brevity since it does not require layers of proof, while one is speaking.
Sometimes employees that call out sick and are lying will not only make their voice sound sick, but give an overabundance of detail, thinking their words may be more convincing this way.
Ignoring voice inflection is important for accuracy in analysis, however, after analysis is complete, this is something that can be looked at.
For example, 7 year old Isabel Celis was reported "kidnapped" by her father, Sergio, who giggled in the 911 call and had no indication of nervousness.
Lawyer statements are always fascinating. They often reveal whether or not the lawyer believes in his client's innocence, or if he knows his client is guilty. Lawyers will even issue reliable denials when they believe their client did not commit the crime accused of.
"No one thinks at first the worst has happened," Fuschino said. "So I think it's certainly a level of concern you hear in his voice, but he's not hysterical.
"It would be rather astonishing to me," Fuschino added, "if he had any level of terror in his voice that suggested he knew more than he did."
When I was resigned to call 911, I thought that my son was missing. Missing.
Even as I type this, all these years later, with time passage and processing richly done, it still bothers me. I was about to call police because I could not find him.
D.J.'s parents, Lisa and David Creato, also have retained legal counsel to assist them during the investigative process, Philadelphia attorney William J. Brennan said.
"My clients are devastated," Brennan said in an interview. "They're in the process of attempting to bury their grandchild, and they are cooperating with law enforcement. We hope to have some answers as to how this tragedy occurred."
Funeral services for Brendan, which the family has said will be private, are scheduled Thursday at Blake-Doyle Funeral Home in Collingswood.