Faith Hedgepeth, a 19 year old University of North Carolina student, was murdered in Chapel Hill, NC on September 7, 2012. The link above contains audio of a 911 call placed on that date by Faith’s roommate. Faith was temporarily staying in her off-campus apartment. This note was found at the scene:
Here is the 911 call regarding the murder. It is my understanding that the caller has been cleared as a suspect.
Does the caller have guilty knowledge of the crime?
Is the caller withholding any information?
(This would be a deliberate withholding.)
Statement Analysis of a 911 call uses the same technique as employed in other situations: The Expected versus the Unexpected as the setting, and sensitivity indicators within language flagged.
This means that there are general expectations within a call, even with a wide variety of emotions in play.
*The caller will ask for help for the victim
*The caller's order, indicating priority, will be for the victim.
When Statement Analysis finds other, unexpected words within the call, the analysis is thus to 'confront' these words or phrases.
Keep in mind that even the phrase, 'excited utterance' recognizes that a 911 call is not scripted, but the subject is choosing his or her own words, from a vast internal dictionary of about 25,000 words, in less than a micro second of time. Any disruption of this speed of transmission may indicate sensitivity, or even deception.
The analysis is in bold type.
D: Durham 911, where is your emergency?
The question is the location. This should be answered immediately. What we say first can reveal our priority.
K: Hi. Um I just walked into my apartment and my friend is just like (unintelligible) unconscious.
The first thing one says is important as it sets priority. Whether or not the question is understood, this is still the very first thing the caller needs police to know: she was not in her apartment.
This is to say that the caller has come before the victim in this call.
If she did, in fact, hear the question about location, the priority of 'not being here' is further strengthened and should be seen as 'sensitive', no different than avoidance of a question.
The question is not answered but the emergency is given. Why is the question about location not answered? We let the subject guide us.
We note the order:
1. I just walked into my apartment;
2. My friend is just like...unconscious
What we first note besides the unanswered question regarding the location (which is needed to help the victim) is that the caller's priority is that she not be held responsible for what happened: she just walked into her apartment.
This is to establish an alibi and is not expected in the 911 call. We expect to hear the caller (subject) to ask for help specifically for the victim.
Please note she calls her "my friend" which is an incomplete social introduction. She should give her friend's name, though the distance without the name is not acute. A complete social introduction, even in 'excited utterance' is expected; even if it is broken into two parts, as the subject should be in a hurry.
"Hurrying" in 911 calls.
Expected: The subject is in a hurry to save the victim's life
Unexpected: The subject feels a need to portray herself as in a hurry.
Why is it "my" apartment? Is this a roommate calling and if so, it should be "our" apartment. Here, the caller takes ownership of the apartment. If it was her apartment, "my" is the expected. If it was shared with the victim, "our" is expected.
That it was "my apartment" and not "ours" is appropriate if the victim was only staying there temporarily, and had only been there a short time.
D: OK. What is your address ma’am?
"Ok" is to establish, "I heard you. I heard that you were not home. Now please answer my question..."
Even without training, the 'sense' or 'feel' remains the same. The 911 operator needs the address and the caller may not know if the region possesses the instant address feature or not, but the operator, in having to get the address, may wonder if the caller is not hurrying the flow of information in order to facilitate medical intervention for the victim.
In each interview, the Interviewer is generally given one of two impressions:
The subject is working with him to facilitate the flow of information or
The subject is not.
This is in all types of interviewing, including Analytical Interviewing, journalism, investigatory, and so on. The simply responded, "okay", or 'agreed', recognizes intuitively the priority of the caller.
People will respond, back and forth, to each others' pronoun usage. This is called "reflected" or "parroted" language. It is why interviewers, including 911 operators, journalists, and anyone interested in obtaining information must limit his own words to allow the subject to enter into the Free Editing Process, in which they are going into their own dictionary, and not borrowing another's.
Married couples together for a significant amount of time eventually will give indication of sharing a dictionary. This is what we call, "entering into" the language of another.
K: I live at Hawthorne at the View
*Please note that she says where she lives, and not where the victim is who needs immediate assistance. This may be in response to the specific question, however, with "what is your address?"
Expected is: "we are at..." which would include the victim.
If the victim is the roommate of the caller, this should be noted for distancing language. Without giving the address, there is a delay.
In any case:
We expect to hear an innocent caller state the location of the emergency and what is wrong, asking for help for the victim. That she went to where she, herself, lives, puts focus upon herself. With a bleeding friend in her bedroom, this is not the most expected response, but to parrot back language is the easiest in which to answer questions. I cannot put much weight into this; but still take note of it.
D: Give me the address
The address has not been given.
This is no longer a question but in the imperative.
The 911 operator appears to intuitively sense that the flow of information is not as expected. This is where the 'confrontation' takes place, even for the untrained.
The 911 operator is not hearing what was expected. What has caused this delay?
We look for the subject to guide us with her own words:
K: I just moved here, I’m gonna have to get it. (Pause) Oh my God. It’s um 5-6-3-9 Old Chapel Hill Road in Durham.
This tells us the sensitivity of the address. This is therefore a concern that is now answered and a fact offered that should be verified.
Here, the subject tells us why the address was not given: "I just moved here."
In Statement Analysis, any use of divinity is to be considered a sensitivity indicator and is statistically linked with deception. It is not conclusive. Someone might call upon Divinity to bear witness or testimony to her words: this is closely related to deception, such as "I swear to God!", while others are just exclaiming a habit of speech.
Please remember: we do not discern deception under a microscope. We look at various signals of sensitivity which can be in many 911 calls but it is only when the culmination of signals is viewed as 'one' overall statement, that we may draw a conclusion. Divinity is considered a 'light' red flag to be noted. We believe what one tells us unless they specifically give us cause not to.
D: ok, repeat it to me so I make sure I got it correct
K: OK. 5-6-3-9 Old Chapel Hill Road it’s apt 1602. D: 1602? K: yes D: what’s the phone number you’re calling from? K: 201-321-8075
D: ok, you say your friend is unconscious?
We finally get to the victim. The delay is noted.
K: She’s unconscious. I just walked in the apartment and there (possible redacted section?)…it looks like there is blood everywhere (unintelligible)
There is repetition of "I just walked in the apartment" making it sensitive. This is established as a priority above seeking help for her friend.
Why would the caller place herself before the victim?
The first words to the 911 operator established the caller's alibi. This came before the victim's state.
This leads us to questions:
Q. Does the caller fear being blamed? If so, why?
Q. Does the caller have a need to tell police that she was not there when whatever happened to Faith took place?
A. Yes. It was not only a priority, but it was repeated.
Anything repeated is sensitive, or important enough to have a need to emphasize it, via repetition.
The roommate would have to be investigated regardless, but the investigation should also consider if the roommate had any knowledge about what happened to Faith prior to making the call.
Note the lack of commitment of saying that there is a lot of blood in "it looks like..." which is to reduce commitment to the obvious.
D: Ok listen to me, listen to me. Somebody’s already sending the ambulance. OK? I need to get some information from you and I’m gonna help, I’m gonna tell you how to help her, ok?
The sensitive repetition of "listen to me" signals that what is about to follow is very important and will require concentration on the part of the caller. The operator may feel that the attention and/or cooperation from the caller is not what it should be; therefore, the need to emphasize by the operator.
We note that the caller has not asked for help for the victim.
Question: Does the caller not believe the victim needs help any longer?
D: ok, how old is she? K: she’s 19….
Verb tense parroted.
K: I don’t know…I don’t want to touch her but….
It is likely that the caller knows that the vital medical information that is about to be given to her is direction of first aid application. The caller refutes her own negative, which may suggest:
She is reluctant to apply first aid but will do so to follow directions.
We do not know what causes such reluctance to help. This is something that should be addressed in the interview.
We have asked: Does the caller know the victim is beyond first aid?
The assertion, "I don't want to touch her but..." is consistent with death. People do not like to touch dead bodies. (See Billie Jean Dunn's statement about "seeing" what "looked like" her daughter, but "I did not touch her" in analysis and in upcoming new release on the murder of Hailey Dunn.
D: Listen to me, is she breathing? K: I don’t know
This is not a credible response. This is instinctively found in the language of the 911 operator who then gives her the imperative of what she "needs" to do.
Recall: the speed of transmission. This lack of commitment is noted by the Dispatcher who then changes language to increase authority:
A negation is something that is offered in the negative and very important in analysis. Here she offers what she does not know. This is a very concerning statement. She was not asked if she knew what happened but has offered this in the negative. It is, in wording, strong, but it is not in result of a direct question. It is unnecessary language.
a. I was not home when this happened
b. I don't know what happened
The caller may fear being blamed. The reason why she may fear this must be explored in the investigation. This has not been a call in which confidence is evident in the 911 operator's language.
D: ok is she on her back or is she on her…laying on her stomach?
K: she’s on, she’s on her back, but like I think she fell off the bed ‘cos she’s like off the bed, there’s blood all over the pillows like in the comforter and I just don’t know what happened
This is not expected: the caller is describing a hypothesis into what may have happened while the Dispatcher is attempting to give First Aid instructions.
Then we have the now repeated phrase, "I just don't know what happened...." making its initial strength weaken as we now need to ask,
"Why does the caller need to repeat this?"
a. Because she knows what happened
b. Because she does not know what happened but fears being accused of knowing;
c. She has an idea about who or what in this scenario
D: Ok, alright…listen to me alright?
K: Is someone coming?
This is actually a good question and although it does not ask for help for the victim, it does not ask for help for her, either. It is a question that seeks confirmation of what is already expected.
D: Yes I’ve got somebody coming. I’ve got somebody coming. I need you for you to help her. I need you to go up to her. We need to see if she’s breathing or not, ok?
K: I don’t think so
D: ok. Listen to me. Go up…the paramedics are on the way. I want you to stay on the line I’m gonna tell you what to do next. Alright? Are you right by her now?
D: Ok, listen carefully
The Dispatch operator shows doubt of the caller's ability
K: She’s not moving. D: She’s not moving, ok K: No D: OK, touch her arm tell me how does she feel….
K: She’s not moving
D: Ok ma’am, we need to find out if we can help her or not. You’ve got to help, you know, do as I’m asking so we can help her. Alright?
K: Ok. D: Ok if you can, lay her flat on her back, remove any pillows.
K: Lay her flat on her back?
D: Flat on her back remove any pillows K: Ok
D: Ok. Kneel next to her, look in her mouth for food or vomit. K: There’s blood everywhere
D: OK, kneel next to her, look in her mouth for food or vomit K: She’s (covered in?) blood (crying) I don’t…
D: Listen to me, what is your name?
K: Karena.I’m sorry, I’m really (tired?) There’s blood everywhere, I don’t know where it came from
This, too, is a negation; offered without being asked the source of the blood.
Please note the words "I'm sorry" are flagged within 911 calls and are often found in callers where guilty knowledge is indicated. This is an element of concern that "I'm sorry" has found its way into her language. See Casey Anthony's 911 call for this inclusion (for any reason) in a 911 call.
D: Listen to me listen to me alright alright, listen to me. When you touch her, how does she feel, does she feel warm?
K: (Pause) No she feels cold. D: She feels cold? ok K: Yes. D: Ok. Alright. Don’t touch anything else ok? Don’t touch anything else.
The need for First Aid is no longer on the mind of the Dispatch operator. Preserving the crime scene is.
The call has not been long enough for the body to turn cold. Please note this with the answer to whether or not the victim was breathing.
D: OK, they’re on the way I’ve got police on the way to you and I’ve got medics on the way to you
K: (unintelligible)…I can’t believe this. D: Ok. What room is she in?
K: She’s in my bedroom.
This pronoun use is important to know in relation to how long the victim had been staying there, and where the victim slept.
D: Ok I want you to go back into to the living room ok?
Dispatch has been told that the caller does not know what happened, even after the caller suggested what may have happened and now wants her out of the room.
K: I don’t know what’s going on, like there there’s stuff in my room, that like, was not here before, it looks like someone had came in here,
This warrants lots of follow up:
If you walked into your apartment and found your roommate unconscious on the floor and were on the phone with the police, awaiting instructions on how to administer First Aid, would you have the presence of mind to note that there is some "stuff" in your room that was not there before?
If the room was disheveled, it would be obvious, but note her wording:
"stuff" is non descriptive and
"it looks like someone has been in here" is not only unnecessary, but it is also without any description. The 911 operator here should ask, "like what?" to get a specific from her.
The concern here is alibi building:
"I just walked in..." which means: I was not here.
This is repeated.
"I don't know what happened" is unnecessary; making it important, but is repeated. This is coupled with the hypothesis of falling off the bed.
The additional information without description of any kind.
*Does the caller have any knowledge of what happened, even if not "what happened" in precision, but by whom?
Please consider this:
*Does the caller worry that someone might come back?
This would cause intense fear and would trigger repetition about:
-how soon will police arrive for her own protection.
-Or, is the concern something else?
It could be for her own nervousness of being suspected, which is seen in her repeated emphasis that she was not in her apartment at the time of the event. This suggests that she might be connected, or have some knowledge, especially in secondary manner, of the murder.
D: Ok ok K: it really does.
This is unnecessary emphasis indicating that she has a need to persuade.
Please note: in these words, she is giving information about her room, but not about the victim.
D: Alright, what did you say your name was again?
This is necessary to ask but it does signal to the already sensitive caller that attention, linguistically
K: It looks like someone came in here….because
D: Ok I don’t… listen to me, don’t touch anything else in the room
Although Interviewers should not interrupt the flow of information, here necessity dictates. The 911 operator does have a sense here that there may be something amiss about the caller. Note the imperative.
K: I’m not touching
This is not enough for the 911 operator:
D: I want you to leave that room go into the living room. You need to make sure, make sure the door is unlocked so somebody can get in, so that the medics and the police can get in when they get there.
K: It’s unlocked. When are they gonna get here though?
D: Ok they’re on their way honey, they’re coming as fast as they can you just stay on the phone with me alright?
K: I am
D: OK, tell me again what your name is?
K: It looks like someone had been in there because she’s not like this at all I don’t know (unintelligible – how she was sleeping?)
The caller returns to the same theme: someone had been in there. She gives her reason (which is not clear on the call) but tells us that she has the need to explain not only that someone has been in there, but, perhaps, a need to state that the victim is not in her room normally (?), which is not clear due to unintelligible language.
D: OK, I have let them know, we’ve got everybody on their way to help you. Now tell me again what your name is. K: What?
D: What is your name?
D: You just sit down on the couch and don’t touch anything ok, you just sit down
K: I’m not touching anything
D: OK, I just want you to sit down because the police and the medics are going to be there – they’re coming just as fast as they can alright?
The 911 operator is protecting the crime scene.
D: You just stay on the phone with me. Stay on the phone with me K: Are you sure they’re coming?
D: Yes ma’am, they are on their way
K: I just can’t believe this. I know someone had to have been in there.
That "someone" entered is very sensitive to the caller. This comes after "are you sure they're coming" which may suggest: intense fear of an unknown assailant. It is gender neutral.
Please note that "I know someone" may be an embedded admission.
It is offered information without being asked.
D: OK, we’ve got first responders on the way, the fire truck is coming, there’s a medic coming and the sheriff’s department is on their way to you. K: OK
D: You just stay on the phone with me until somebody gets there with you K: OK D: How old are you Karena? K: I’m 20 D: You’re 20? Ok hon you’re doing alright, you’re doing alright, you just stay on….
K: I see the police
The word "they" is now specified as "police"
It would be interesting (though not S/A) to see if there is relief in her voice inflection at this time.
D: You see the police? K: Yes
D: Ok, you let me know when they get in there with you then you can talk to them ok? I just don’t want you to be alone right now
The 911 operator is protecting the crime scene. The 911 operator has heard enough of that which was not expected to have concerns.
K: OK D: You just stay on the phone with me K: Ok (pause…sound) D: Are they in there with you? Are they coming in? K: Yes, thank you D: OK hon bye bye K: Good bye
There are enough signals here to indicate that police should investigate a possible connection between the caller and the killer.
1. The caller's priority is her own alibi more than the assistance of intervention for the victim. This could be from fear of being blamed, which, if true, needs to be explored why she would feel such a need, including association. Her entire association should be explored including tertiary and distance connection; but close enough to have 'an idea' of who might have done this.
2. The caller gives indication that she knew the victim was deceased or would be deceased shortly, but in either case, not in need of medical intervention. There is no offering of detail in her language, about the victim, while she does off in the negative, of not knowing who did this, as well as offering that "someone" entered the home and that her room is not the same as it was previously. These are given more words than the victim's status.
3. Note the inclusion of divinity.
4. Note that the caller does not ask for help specifically for the victim.
5. Note the reduced commitment to the blood shed. This is a type of minimization or distancing. Who might have a need to do this?
a. a form of denial of a very close friend. This is not supported by the language.
b. one who has an idea who did this, but does not want to yield to having an extreme negative viewpoint or opinion of the person or persons responsible.
Many people speak of an unknown killer in the masculine. People intuitively know that men are more likely to commit murder than women. Here, she remains gender neutral. This may be due to wanting to conceal identity, but, as with other points, it is not definitive. Analysis takes all the points together before seeking to draw a conclusion.
6. Note the unnecessary offering in the negative, "I don't know what happened" should cause investigators to learn why she felt the need to say this.
It is likely to be technically truthful, in precision, but raises a suspicion that she has an idea of what may have happened.
7. "I know someone" may be embedded admission. In any case, it is to state that which is not necessary; making it vital for analysis.
The caller shows this in several ways, including stating that her room was different.
These show linguistic concerns that this caller may have some connection or affiliation with someone associated with the killer.
As to the note, the word "jealous" is more used by female writers than male.