This is a case that caused a lot of controversy, where a baby was reported missing, and police felt strongly that it was a case of unintentional death and cover up, by the parents. People have taken sides, bickered, argued, formed committees for or against, and are passionate about what they believe happened to Baby Sabrina. Statement Analysis will conclude this article.
It also makes for great instruction on analysis. The parents of Baby Sabrina have even offered their support to Deborah Bradley, mother of missing baby Lisa, of whom police and Statement Analysis show deception.
First, a background on the case (I), and then some questions for self-analysis (II) and then we will look at Baby Sabrina's parents' own words (III)
I. Case Details
In 1997 Steven and Marlene Aisenberg hired attorney Barry Cohen after their five-month-old baby, Sabrina Aisenberg, disappeared from her crib in the Aisenberg home. Baby Sabrina was never found and the reason for her disappearance remains a mystery. From the beginning the parents were the only suspects the prosecution investigators pursued.
Prosecution investigators received an illegally-obtained warrant to record over 255 private conversations in the Aisenberg home. The tapes were inaudible for the most part and none provided any evidence to prosecute the Aisenbergs. The tapes were transcribed into transcripts for the judge and for presentation to a grand jury. The Aisenbergs were indicted.
Eventually in 2007, the charges against the Aisenbergs were dropped for lack of evidence. In U.S. v. Aisenberg, Cohen sued the federal government formalicious prosecution on behalf of the Aisenbergs for reimbursement of legal fees under the Hyde Amendment, a federal statute enacted in 1997 to pay the legal fees of defendants who were victims of prosecutorial abuse. On February 1, 2003, the Aisenberg's were awarded $2.9 million. (Wikipedia)
II. Questions for Analyst
1. Do you believe the parents were responsible? Or, do you support the parents and blame the police?
2. Do you have emotional attachment to your point of view?
3. When the case broke, did you form a strong opinion on the case?
4. Have you debated anyone about the case?
5. Have you ever posted your opinion on "who done it?" anywhere on the internet?
6. Do you feel that you have an open mind towards possible guilt or innocence in this case?
7. Did you feel the parents justified in their lawsuit?
8. Do you want to know the truth?
9. Do you think the police acted inappropriately yet the parents were still responsible?
10. Do you struggle with being wrong?
11. What would your family say about you?
a. You are good about saying you are sorry and taking responsibility
b. You struggle with saying you are sorry
c. You often blame others
d. You readily blame yourself, even when the fault is not your own
From The Larry King Show, Steven Aisenberg was asked the best question possible:
This allows the subject to use his own personal dictionary, and begin and end the account where he chooses. The analysis is in bold type. The principles used here are the same principles used in each case we cover.
Expected Versus Unexpected
We ask that you put yourself in the shoes of the subject, and assume innocence. If you do not assume he is innocent of any guilty knowledge of what happened to his daughter, you cannot look for the expected response.
In Statement Analysis, we deal with the unexpected.
If you were innocent and were being interviewed because someone thought you had stolen something, what would you say? You would say, "I didn't steal it" without sensitivity indicators. Your language would be plain, with strong First Person Singular Pronoun usage, past tense verbs, and no need of qualifiers such as "think, believe, perhaps, maybe..." You don't need to "think" about it; you didn't do it. You will speak for yourself, and not for another. You have no guilt, so there is no need to share guilt with the pronoun "we", as is so often found in the language of the guilty: a desire to spread around the guilt.
I interviewed someone who accepted a fake receipt; terribly obvious, cartoonish fraud. She answered, repeatedly, "we saw it as fine" and "we okay'd it" and "we didn't see anything wrong with it." Each time she answered this way, I asked her, "who is 'we'?" or, "who were you working with?" and "who approved it?" because she was the only person to have seen the fake document but felt so guilty about missing something so blatantly fake that even after being corrected, she went back to using "we" as she did not want to take responsibility for approving a fake receipt. In the follow up interview, she said that she was alone when she checked over the receipt and reimbursed the thief, but quickly went back to "but we thought it was valid..." which led me to ask, over and over, "who is this 'we', you are referring to?" It never stopped.
Picture your child being missing. What would you say? If you called 911, would you give a polite greeting and talk about the weather? Would you feel the need to build an alibi first?
Put yourself in the subject's shoes and attempt to answer questions: this is called "The Expected" in analysis.
When you hear an answer that does not fit the normal, honest, straightforward response, you are now confronted with "The Unexpected" which requires analysis.
We deal with the unexpected in Statement Analysis.
Follow the pronouns.
The pronoun "I" is the single most used word in the English language and an adult has used the words "I" and "we" millions of times: pronouns are instinctive. They are not mistaken. Anything a human does millions of times becomes efficient. This is why pronouns are the single best indicator of deception.