On Tuesday, November 24, 2015, I was privileged to take part in a gathering of experts in investigations and analysis regarding the murder of Amanda Blackburn.
Their notes were posted recently and these are many of their thoughts from within the discussion as well as in emails and text communications after the session.
Police have suspects under arrest and have identified the actual killer of Amanda Blackburn.
It has been, however, the husband's own statements that have brought much interest from the public to this murder, above many others that have taken place this past year.
This group has steadfastly produced results that have led to successes, including confessions. They are thorough and represent a wide variety of expertise, with all trained in Statement Analysis, as well as their own specific area, including investigatory, psychological, civil, business and academia. Years of experience ranged up to 35 years of investigating crime, as well as advanced degrees and decades of experience and success.
The format was simple: The murder of Amanda Blackburn from all perspectives.
The material to be examined included written statements, videos, as well as statistics of home invasions, murders, intimate partner violence, and then the addition of the video of the victim's father, a close-relative only 2 weeks removed from his daughter's murder.
Amanda Blackburn's father spoke from two perspectives:
1. The background of a deeply committed Christian faith
2. The close, relative association of Amanda, the victim.
This mirrors very closely the proximity of the reference point of the victim's husband, Davey Blackburn, yet from the perspective of linguistics, not as close. Although children mimic parental language, fathers do not 'enter into' the language of their children. Husbands and wives not only mimic each others' language, (and face expressions which is why people often remark about long term married couples 'looking' alike as they age) over time they 'enter into' each other's personal dictionaries. This observation is not found in any other relationships to date. Therefore, the closeness of language from Amanda's father serves as a strong reference point for the "expected" language of the victim's husband.
What did the experts find? What opinions did they offer? What was agreed upon and what was left in disagreement?
I. The Video of Amanda's Father
First, the video of Amanda's father shows "the expected" in close relation murder. That he comes from the point of Christianity makes the focus even clearer for the expected from the husband.
a. Expressed grief in specific emotional terms
b. Connected himself through the pronoun "I" repeatedly to his daughter
c. Expressed genuine conflicting struggle between faith and reality of the present distress
d. Although speaking for family, he repeatedly used the appropriate pronoun "I"
e. Guilt: most every parent will show guilt over a child, even a grown child, including the language of protection, including referring to "baby", which is incapable of self protection. This is the 'cry' of a father.
In short, Amanda Blackburn's father made a truthful, genuine statement connecting himself to the victim, while maintaining both his faith and his human emotions.
This short video shows "the expected", even though people all grieve differently; the point is that they "grieve" and will, through intuitive pronouns, connect themselves to the victim.
An example of a bizarre distancing is this: a police chief shoots his own wife, by accident, on New Year's Eve, in bed.
He called 911 and made it through the entire 911 call without once using these words: "my", "wife", and her name, "Maggie." It is so extreme in distancing that the operator had to actually ask him "is the victim your wife??" You may find it here.
In the statements of the guilty, we often confront "the unexpected" in statements; that is, they say things that are "unexpected", sometimes even shocking, and they do not say the things most expected.
For example, the husband did not at any time express fear that a violent killer was on the loose.
The husband did not say "I love (d) Amanda" in any form, nor "Amanda love (d) me" or even her son.
Amanda's father showed distinct "close language" to the victim, while the husband used distinctly distancing language from the victim.
The video of Amanda's father highlights why many people suspected or still suspect the husband's involvement. Should he or supporters formally complain, his own initial statement, itself, is the best argument against him. When the Cindy Anthony "there's no book on grieving" argument is used, the father's video, again, silences it.
II. Experts' opinions, thoughts, agreements and disagreements
The experts with lengthy law enforcement backgrounds were impressed by the coincidental nature of the crime.
A young husband publicly declares his marriage to be a strong negative in his life and career, with a specific trigger of pregnancy cited. Shortly thereafter, the wife is murdered while pregnant.
Statistics of murdered pregnant women points first to the husband/boyfriend as the primary perpetrator.
This is something very difficult for law enforcement expert, especially with years of experience, to get beyond. If, for example, a husband's guilt is because he had a mistress, detectives said,
"...and what are the odds of a wife murdered to make room for the new girlfriend rather than a messy and career upending divorce?"
All were in unison in saying that should it be learned that there was a connection between shooter and the church, no one would be surprised.
Cold case investigators are the most resistant to quick closing of a case. In the world of cold case investigations, what the public thinks and what the detective thinks are often very different.
The public sees a cold case as "they just don't know", while close family and cold case investigators think otherwise.
When a case is closed with suicide quickly and a mother knew the boyfriend was not only violent, but on the night of her death had threatened her to the point where she called 911, there is a strong disagreement.
Cold case detectives are in the unenviable position of taking a case where detectives cleared a suspect, and investigating his coworkers' investigation and sometimes this leads to an arrest of the very suspect cleared. This makes for tension. When one has been doing this for years, he is well acquainted with mistakes and how things are overlooked as it is human to do so.
No one expressed comfort with the designation of "100%" at that point (days) of the investigation but expressed certainty as to why it was used.
Suspect Profiling is, at best, an inexact guess work that is seen often 'after the fact' , that is, a profile of the killer is often vague until after the arrest and then once in custody, his 'type' is then identified.
Its original purpose was to reduce the suspect pool to various personality types, such as "this is a close shooting and it means the killer knew his victim and this was personal", had been a main stay in Suspect Profiling for many years. This eventually was opposed by politicians due to racial sensitivities and appearance.
He is then identified as a "psychopath" without more detail other than "this is what psychopaths do" identifying that "if he killed once he will kill again."
This is the evolution of profiling from the 1980's and 90's in which a crime scene was visited, and a similar conclusion was reached: "white male, middle aged, under employed, living in his widowed mother's basement" was indicated as "serial killer 101." He is lonely, embittered and feels insignificant.
Hollywood glamorized profiling to 'art status' just as lie detection became glamorized a few short years ago. Neither presentation is of much value in actual investigations.
Another popular notion is the "criminal in training" profile where "no one just graduates to garroting" was used in the Jonbenet investigation. The Grand Jury indicted John and Patsy Ramsey in "death by child abuse" (though unsigned indictment by Alex Hunter in deference to the Ramsey's attorneys) and profiled (also by the Ramsey attorneys' purchasing power) with the conclusion that garroting was a sadistic, long term angry white male, middle aged, living in his mother's basement and couldn't be John Ramsey.
The Grand Jury saw it differently and indicted, and Statement Analysis of the Ramsey's initial statements showed not only deception, but specific links to sexual abuse. The staging of the crime scene came from inspiration from profiling paperbacks, which the defense attorneys later minimized.
In Suspect or Crime Scene Profiling, we often hear "psychopath" and "they don't have a conscience so lying doesn't bother them. "
This is untrue.
"A psychopath can pass a polygraph because he does not have the same emotions others have."
This is untrue.
It is not a "conscience" that causes one to fail a polygraph: The internal stress can be compounded by a guilty conscience, but the measure of stress is due primarily to the disruption of the speed of transmission in processing information. The sociopathic, or anti-social narcissist or even Dissociative Identity Disorder will still have the exact same source of stress in lying that those with the most tender of consciences possess.
When the person goes into experiential memory, and is guilty, the need to suppress or withhold information by picking and choosing is very stressful.
If the polygrapher uses only the subject's language, he will avoid "inconclusive."
Contrary to the "Suspect or Crime Scene Profiling":
Sadly, statistics tells us that young people, for example with no criminal history do commit murders.
The profiling of Statement Analysis is quite different and it is with specifics. Some specifics are so exact that Statement Analysis can identify the author of an anonymous threatening letter. No other school of discipline can obtain this high level of usefulness.
The words we speak reveal our background, education, experience, gender, priorities and our personality. This goes for all of us. As one speaks, so is he, or 'out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks' and so on. For its use in Genesis, see "Linguistic Archeology" by Avinoam Sapir. It is a stunning work of rare genius as it applies the principles of Statement Analysis to the relations and social introductions found in Genesis.
Statement Analysis Profiling and Gender
"Group Analysis" must have both genders. Men and Women speak differently, which comes from the processing of the brain, even if this is no longer accepted culturally; human nature does not change. Directing profiling to a specific gender is to limit a vast portion of knowledge. Investigators sometimes bristle sitting through Suspect Profiling classes due to the powerful projection of the presenter. They quickly learn that street experience often conflicts with the presentation.
The more years experience in investigating the more the investigator has developed his own internal system of profiling. Hence, the older the detective, the less interest in attending seminars.
The Group Analysis should not be limited in its "exposure", as the wider view will allow for a wider "expectation." By using experts from various fields, a necessary balance is sought. Psychological experts and Investigator experts enter from distinct vantage points as do other fields. By widening the net, the "expected" is widened. This includes race, as well as regionalism in language.
Statement Analysis Profiling is used for strategy for the interview and it comes before the arrest.
"I walked into the building and no one bothered to greet me. I proceeded to..."
Here, the subject began a criminal statement telling us what did not happen. This, in the negative, is flagged for what it is, and then explored. We also note that where one begins is always important.
The intense need to feel relevant directed the language of the interview to show extreme deference and respect, and produced the confession.
The team was unified in its profile of the subject. This came from not only the statements but also the video:
The language of anti-social narcissism with single-minded purpose.
This means that the emotions felt may not be genuine, but an attempt to sound like human empathy; the most natural and expected of emotions from a close family member, yet they sounded like a long distance therapist:
"The family is devastated" while avoiding "I am devastated" indicating "clinical language" which is impersonal and distancing.
The profile of the language also revealed Priority.
The priority of the subject was, and is, his career. The marriage impeded the career, and a divorce would have de-railed the career, and now it is unnecessary. With the career as the Priority established in the Statement Analysis profile:
1. Emphasis on the career
2. "Moving forward" even only days from the murder, was indicated
3. The lack of fear of a killer may be due to known association (this must be precluded by weeks of investigating) but may be due to "blind ambition", that is, one so single minded that nothing else is of consequence.
This particular theme is strong in the language: Single-View Ambition and Drive:
"16 people were saved, but I am disappointed that the goal of 400 people was not met...'
"My wife has just been brutally murdered. The nation's attention is now upon me...'
"Here is what you say to media..."
"Come to 'celebrate'
"Invite as many people as possible"
This theme is so powerful that he ascribed it to his wife's life and even to his wife's death:
Amanda loved "people", including "unlovable people", "people without hope" and Amanda "gave futures to people without futures", which gives Amanda divine like qualities (expected) but not personal qualities but qualities about numerical success.
As to being a wife and mother, hyperbolic language is used (the 'whole world should have learned from her) and this, too, is associated with "business" as he revealed that he and Amanda were "counseling" others...including marriage.
This hyperbolic language is distinctly impersonal. He does not state a single personal example of what made her a great wife to him or a great mother to his son.
Again, specifically missing is the language of love.
"What would you tell your child if he lost his mother as a toddler?" is an 'easy' question to answer:
"Your mother loved you very much." Not only did he avoid this, but he spoke of "we", in the plural "telling Amanda's story"; that is, to make an unsolved brutal murder into a "story" less than 2 weeks from her death.
This is what shocks the public and is provocative to read. They expected "Mommy loved you with all her heart" but it is not what they were told. He used clinical language even before Christian language of "shepherding" his child when he said "we" (without identifying with whom he, himself, sees in the plural) would "dialog" with him. This, too, is distant, clinical language, void of any close human emotion. It was unexpected, but it accompanied an unexpected pronoun.
This common emotional connection is missing; instead, the language suggests intent.
The intention of book sales, promotion, etc, was in full agreement. The single-minded focus of the language was consistent: promotion.
At one point, he even ascribes Amanda's death as having the purpose of promoting his career.
This, all agreed, is alarming to law enforcement investigators but remains the focus:
At the time of the statements, his language revealed strong intention to promote his career and capitalize on the murder. Most predicted an immediate book with subsequent Hollywood movie.
We saw within the second statement the subject's cognizance of his now widened audience, as he used the word "nation' in context with his wife's murder mere days after her murder, while the killer or killers remained at large.
Agreement here, as well: There is nothing in the language of the husband's statements to indicate knowledge of a sexual assault.
A sexual assault, if known, would be next to impossible to "squelch" or "filter out" from language. The topic itself it 'too powerful' to not impact language. It is bothersome as it deals with violence at the most intimate of occurrence.
The conclusion: The husband did not show knowledge that his wife was sexually assaulted, although initially reported in media.
The Failure to Deny
Some people do not deny a crime because they feel 'above' it, while others may not get the sense that they are accused. In the interview process, when someone issues an "unreliable denial" it does not mean that he did not do it; it means he has failed to personally deny the action, for himself.
In the interview process we give the subject repeated attempts. For example, in interviewing someone about stolen narcotics, he did not realize that a co worker had placed suspicion upon him and in order to know, definitively, that he did not steal the medication, he would have to tell us so.
"I just can't believe that someone did this."
"Well, we are interviewing everyone and will find out who did, which is why you are now being interviewed."
"That's great. You really need to find out who did this. "
"Yes, that is why you are here with us now."
"I'll help in any way I can."
"We need to clear you, too."
"Oh yes, of course you do. You have to interview every one of us here who had access to the patient's medicine."
There appeared little cognizance that he was being interviewed as a potential thief.
"If a co worker thought you did it, what would you say to this?
You may think of 101 better questions to ask but the point behind the vagueness is to not contaminate the interview by giving the subject words. He must use his own words.
"That's stupid. I would never take someone else's medication."
No reliable denial yet issued.
"What would you say to one who did think you would take it?
"I would say he is crazy."
"If you were in court accused of this, what would you say?"
"I am going to court?"
Hence why we avoid introducing new words.
"No, let's just say you had to answer to this."
"Why would I have to answer to this? I didn't take the medication."
Yes, it is this difficult but as he said it in the Free Editing Process, it is very likely to be true. When asked, "Why should I believe you?", he answered, "That's up to you, I don't care; I told the truth."
This put him above 99.9% and the interview ended. The thief was, in deed, the co worker who used the typical red herring of casting suspicion upon another.
I have had 5 hour interviews and I have had 5 minute interviews where the subject issued a Reliable Denial (a specific case) and the interview ended and the case closed with a signed confession. The words we speak reveal us.
The victim's husband was brought to the place of denial and he did not. This was likely influenced by the lengthy statement of 'apology' from the Fox News interviewer who first referenced a statistic (without number) and then how 'hard this would be for a man of God' apologetic (and lengthy) question.
The subject did not deny it but offered:
"For us, we have nothing to hide"
There are two things wrong with this:
1. The use of plural. There is only one target of the accusation.
This is something that is in not only "Lie Detection 101" but in every parents' unwritten home manual.
When a child says he or she has nothing to hide, the parent begins to look to see what is inside his pocket.
Why might someone say he has nothing to hide?
This expression is used as one is specifically thinking of something they wish not to be known, even though it be unrelated. It is something that bothers the subject and is in his mind, while making this assertion.
Investigators know that this is literally an invitation of suspicion, or an invitation to search.
It, too, could be unrelated to her death, but it is something that entered the language because it was on the brain.
The use of the plural is closely associated with guilty statements. It is not definitively guilt of the murder, but it is guilt. This is known also from childhood on up to adulthood:
When we feel guilty, we feel less intensity of the guilt while in a crowd. Teenagers are notorious for this, and in statement after statement of crimes in which arrests were affected, this has been indicated.
In one lengthy Statement Analysis test, students are told that there is a confession in the statement and it exists of one single word.
The very long statement is from a man who was the victim of an attempted car jacking where the perpetrator shot and killed the passenger, the subject's girlfriend of whom he expected to marry shortly. He cooperated with police fully and was being cleared when he walked out to the waiting press and spoke.
In one small area, he used the word "we" to connect himself to the shooter.
That is all it took.
In a major cash business theft (more than one-half million dollars), the gang who pulled off the heist was unable to be pinned down until review was made of the employee's statement where he described being beaten up and forced to yield the safe's combination. His injuries were real.
He used the word "we", right after the beating, to complete the sentence about going into the warehouse to give up the combination, to connect himself to the gang. Case solved.
In rape cases, the language is key for both asserting the veracity of the victim, and discerning the false accusations.
"For us, we have nothing to hide" not only tells us that the subject has something on his mind that he is not revealing, nor does he wish to reveal, but it is in association with someone else.
No consensus developed on who this "we" is, but guilt must be strong to produce a change in language.
All agreed that the guilt is indicated, yet no agreement was even close as to the source of the guilt.
Here is some of the speculations with the difficultly lying in one spot:
The power of guilt must be of such intensity to change the pronouns.
Pronouns are the single most powerful element within language. We have looked at the 6 years of suffering and humiliation that Hillary Clinton went through before the pronoun "I" was ejected from her language regarding her husband's infidelities.
Universal guilt would not be powerful enough, that is, personal enough to produce the change of pronouns. This means that "not being there" in a common sense, will produce guilt, but not the level of guilt that would cause the "running to a crowd" guilt. Parents even express guilt when their children die of sickness. This is more "universal" or common guilt.
We looked at typical possibilities of guilt and language:
1. Would financial wrongdoings be enough to produce the change of language?
2. Would an affair produce enough guilt to produce the change of language?
3. Is it possible that the guilt of remaining outside the home for the length of time the husband did produce the guilt powerful enough to change the language?
"Money and Sex" or "Sex and Money" are always examined in crimes for motives. A single pronoun showed motive for an unsolved crime which led to an arrest. The subject simply said, "my house" to which he claimed ownership. I did not know the case file.
What I was told next was this: He did not own the house.
Thus, the single addition of this pronoun "my", instead of "the" house, revealed the motive for murder: the owner of the house had refused to put his name on the title deed and she paid for it with her life.
Although so many video tapes contain "sex", this was found to be not primary, but ambition was, with "sex", just like in advertising, the 'interest' holding element for the 'customer.'
"Money" was viewed, including the subject's own claim of poverty which was false. Money could be an attendant element; that is, success, itself, being primary, will bring both financial increase and personal popularity (both important to the subject), yet success, itself, is the
principle primary driving passion in the language.
Everything is an advertisement. Everything that happens "proves" the slogan to be correct.
Some (most) : Money or Sex is not enough 'emotion' to change a pronoun, however:
money or affair that derails the career is, for this subject, powerful enough to change the language. Therefore, it may be unrelated to the murder, but powerful enough to displace his principle passion in life: success.
The Source of Guilt Disagreed Upon.
No consensus was found.
It is not known "what is hiding" and for some, especially with lengthy investigatory experience, the coincidental nature of the crime along with the language of guilt is 'too much' to overcome.
For others, the language of "anti-social narcissism' with the single purpose driven goal of promotion is the cause of the guilt. The subject knows, but it unable to "stop himself" from the impulsive thoughts of success and everything that has happened is for the purpose of his success. In this sense, Amanda is a "sacrifice" so that "many will come" and that even a child's loss of mother is seen in clinical terminology.
Each topic was somehow forced to turn back to ambition of the subject. All family was distanced from, including his son, unborn child, and wife, while all events orchestrate perfectly together, like "planning" where the end result: "invite as many people as you can" and "whatever it takes."
All agreed: The subject is planning.
The subject is, at the time of the statements, driven to find ways to use what we called "an unsolved murder" (at the time of the statement), but he called "Amanda's Story." She was already deified, processed, and moved on to "getting them to come in" from the nation, to fulfill, what he said on video, "hundreds of thousands."
The glory of the numbers of success are all encompassing in the language.
Consensus: Police have much more work to do before formally clearing the husband from any association with the killer and his associates. It must be deep, thorough and compelling before certainty is arrived at. No one is comfortable saying he is unrelated yet.
The source of the guilt remains debated.
Then, over much time, the case will be adjudicated and closed.
Then, eventually, a cold case detective will take it off the shelf and with dispassionate eyes, review it carefully, from the start to finish.