Here is an example to follow, from the very first moments of a case, to know what happened as this father calls 911 to report his daughter missing. Thanks go John for transcription.
OP: Jackson Township police
C: Hi, yes ahh, I need some help.
This is an emergency call.
It comes from the biological father of a missing little girl.
It should not begin with a greeting. We note the greeting and subsequent politeness ("thank you, thank you") as possible "ingratiating" psychologically. This is when the caller feels the need to align himself with authorities. We sometimes see this in missing children cases where the father praises search efforts for not finding the missing child. (DeOrr Kunz)
Next note that the caller, 'telling the truth', says that he needs help; not his daughter. This is true, in the mind of the caller. He is going to need legal help and it 'leaks' into the language during the free editing process. Even when a call is planned, it is easy to fall off script. Regardless, it does not come from experiential memory. He does not 'know' what it is like to be elevated in fear for the sake of his daughter.
He knows what it is like to be in fear for himself.
Then note that he reduces the need for help with "some help."
These three points are incongruent with an emergency call.
OP: Ok where you at?
OP: Parrots back address.
OP: Ok what's going on?
C: I-I can't find my daughter
Not that she is missing, but he cannot find her.
OP: OK, how old is she?
C: Erm 5, she just turned 5 (inaudible)
OP: When was the last time you seen her?
C: Umm, this afternoon probably
The "last time" he saw her caused him to pause. Rather than be a parent on high hormonal alert, he has a need to pause and think of his answers.
OP: Around what time?
C: umm..3 maybe 4
The hormonal reaction of a biological parent is not something that would allow for this level of time to be estimated for a child this age.
Someone in the background says something in the background and he (C) replys "5 you saw her at 5", oh ok.
We now have an even longer gap of time. Since the call began with two red flags, this gap of time increases concern.
OP: What was she wearing?
OP: What was she wearing?
C: She's wearing a purple winter coat, err.. I don't know what those things are called, they're not jeans
OP: Like leggings
C: Yeah yeah
OP: What color were they?
OP: Ok, and you haven't seen her ?
The operators reveals disbelief
C: About, yeah I - I mean, she was there sleeping, I mean you know..
The father is now on the defensive, stuttering on the pronoun "I" signals increase in stress at this question and the phrase, "you know" now shows an increase in the awareness of the operator's words (presence)
OP: Where was she sleeping, at the restaurant?
Training for the operator indicated. Do not lead the subject. See how quickly the father grabbed the notion:
C: Yeah yeah she's she was sleeping there and I picked up my older daughter from school, we all saw her sleeping there. So and
and we went to work and we let her sleep, we and we got busy and then, er.....err after it got busy we start cleening up and then we open a door because, and she's not here.
The quick agreement "yeah, yeah" is to almost thank the operator for the story.
The inability for the biological father to be "alone" in responsibility speaks to guilt.
With the need to explain opening a door with her not there:
Sexual abuse should be explored. This is extremely sensitive.
OP: Hold on one second ok.
C: OK sir what's your name>
C: Liang, Liang Zhao
OP: Ok, do you have any videos in there (restaraunt) or anything were you can video to see if she was laying there?
C: No, no no no. We don't have any security cameras in there since ahh in the restaurant, we've been here sfor six years we've never had security camera's here.
Here, the bio father cannot be alone in a context where nothing is more personal to a father than his young child. This is a strong indicator of guilt. Guilty people cannot bear to be "alone" with guilt. It is similar to a child who says "but everyone was doing it..." seeking to spread about guilt and responsibility.
C: We we saw her, like, like all of us like my wife myself and my older daughter, We I came back, when I picked up my ahh ahh older daughter from school, we saw her there sleeping.
OP: Ok and so, was there any suspicious people that came in at all?...
Caller butts in
C: No no no no no
OP....do you think she could have ran out somewhere?
C: I I, have have no idea, I mean she was sleeping in the back. It's kind of hard to say when she was how long she's been missing
He stutters on "I"
He offers "no idea" on his daughter's status; something that an innocent parent could not offer due to parental instinct.
He heavily qualifies the time period with "kind of hard to say"--
not that it is "hard to say" but "kind of hard to say" suggesting knowledge of the time.
OP: None of the other employers have seen her?
C: There's only 2 of us just myself and my wife, there's nobody else in the restaurant. There's only 3 people in the restaraunt .
This discounts customers. The change in number may be that he wishes to add his other daughter into the number, further reducing his "alone status" with what happened to his daughter.
OP: When you guys left, who was there with you? Like who was there with your daughter when you guys left to go draw the kids from school?
C: My wife, I I go pick her up myself. My wife is here in the restaurant. But when we came back came back she's here. Like my wife is here in the restaurant, the restaurant is always open. Erm,,i usually open up...I pick my- I drop my daughter off I'm sorry, i drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
He shows consistent use of past tense until here.
The words "I'm sorry" often seep into the language of the guilty, for whatever reason, in the free editing process. (see Casey Anthony)
Note the need for "normal" while his daughter is "missing"; this indicates knowledge of the situation being anything but normal. It is part of narrative, rather than reporting.
His use of "normal", that is, what he "usually" does tells us that he did something "unusual" and this is not lost, intuitively, upon the operator. Note the rebuttal:
OP: But right now though like, when you left you said you your wife and your daughter left to go pick up your daughter from school.
C: No I didn't say that, I said..my wife is here all the time.
Note the strong pronoun and past tense statement shows confidence in what he is saying.
OP: Ok, and your wife hasn't seen her either since around ?
The story unwinds:
C: Ok ok, erm, I think you, ok, when we pick, I'm sorry, what I meant was myself ok, when I went to pick up my daughter. When we came back, myself and my daughter, not my wife, my wife was here all the whole time. When we came back...
Operator interrupts, likely due to impatience. This is a mistake:
OP: Ok so you wife hasn't seen her either since around 4-5 either?
C: Err yes err..
(Caller asked his wife something (foriegn language)
"she's not sure before we got busy err usually busy around . that's the best time you know we like ahh.."
OP: What's your daughters name?
He has not once used his missing daughter's name. This is to psychologically distance himself from her. The need to distance himself is what we explore for.
C: Ashley Ashley
OP: OK. Officers outside if you want to go and meet the officer at the door ok.
C: He's here right now?
The element of time is now important to the caller. This is sensed by the operator:
OP: Yeah, he's already outside
C: In the front or the back?
OP: He should be in the front
C: Ok, allright, thank you thank you