Saturday, November 30, 2013

False Accusation of Childhood Sexual Abuse

by Peter Hyatt

With the sexual abuse allegation by a grown woman against her father, there is a need for Statement Analysis.

What if the woman is telling the truth?

What if the father is falsely accused?

What if a therapist is touting a new theory and is playing with lives?

What if a vengeful parent has talked her daughter into making the false claim?

What if it really did, in deed, happen?

Statement Analysis can get to the truth.

I have worked with some fathers who were falsely accused.  Those men who were falsely accused loved their daughters and said things like this:

"I love my daughter.  I did not molest her, touch her, show her porn, or anything like that.  I would never as a father do such things. But someone has.  My daughter needs help.  Please help her!  I will take a polygraph if needed, but please help my daughter."

In spite of fear of being falsely accused and falsely imprisoned, the caring father speaks out due to his love of his daughter, showing that he loves her, more than he loves his own life.

The victim's own statement can be analyzed, knowing that with PTSD like symptoms, some present tense language will be indicated.

The diagnosing psychologist will not only need to get to the truth, but will need to know what actions were taken by the victim. This is because the psychological trauma of child rape, for example, can cause the child to disassociate as the brain protects itself.  The language will seem passive, as if the subject is "watching herself" be abused.

In the case against William Kennedy Smith, there was not a rape, in legal terms, that took place, but the victim's language did, in fact, show that she has been sexually molested in childhood.

When a child is subjected to rape at an early age, you can expect some extreme reactions from her...perhaps not until adolescence, and then again, statistically, in her mid 30's, but you will get reactions:

extreme promiscuity
substance abuse
suicidal ideation

In short, you often find victims of early and acute childhood sexual abuse doing one thing well in life, consistently:

destroying her own life.  Later in life, she may be frigid, unable to enjoy intimacy.

The psychologist must know that the actions speak as do the words.

The statement analyst can learn truth from deception, and since the child's brain has an extreme reaction to the abuse (disassociation), the analyst must be very careful to stitch together the language, over time, that the victim's brain is willing to yield, often in small increments.  Whatever word slips out, must be considered highly significant.

One MUST hear.

A child who is sexually abused fears muted her entire life.  That child must have a voice.  This is why I implore therapists to take the SCAN training and put its tools to good use.  I think some of the best therapists are likely intuitive about language, something that would be in agreement with the SCAN technique, and who, when trained, would take to the training without difficulty.

I have had many cases in which the woman was telling the truth, and her history only bore testimony that she had been sexually assaulted in early childhood, interfering with the natural development of the brain.

I have also had cases where the father was falsely accused.  In one case, the victim simply entered into the language of her mother, and when confronted with this, confessed.  I also learned that the mother owed the father money, and had hoped for extortion.


Guilty parties often seek to silence the victim.

A little girl who is sexually assaulted feels muted.  Some will delay speech, and others will grow up incapable of standing up for themselves.

Disassociation through child rape, for example, can lead to a woman incapable of true empathy for others, as they learn to detach from pain.  Often, the only way to get "the story" is to listen for the missing information that SCAN so well identifies...

"The next thing I knew..."

"And so I left."

Readers here know that these are signals of missing information, and jumps in time.

We will look at a series of examples of statements in which sexual abuse was indicated, and we will show when in which the subject was deceptive, and later confessed to the deception.

The falsely accused father, who loves his daughter, will cooperate with the therapist, or police investigation, and the interview will be "team work" to get to the truth.

Due to detachment and disassociation, it can be very difficult to string together a cohesive statement from a victim, but the diagnosis must include external testimony of behavioral interactions.

It is a very tragic outcome, no matter what help is given, and for a moment's perverse "pleasure" by the perpetrator, the woman is given a life sentence of pain; along with all who love her.

Michael McStay Statement Analyzed

A man, his wife, and two children went missing in 2010.  Their remains were found in makeshift graves.  Recently, Michael McStay spoke out.  Readers here have requested analysis of his words.

There is no conclusion to be drawn from this short statement.

 "Good morning, it’s not really the outcome we were looking for. But umm… itgives us courage to know  that they're together and they're in a better place. I know umm (I talked to?) my father, who is in Texas and my Aunt Carol, and um, it’s been a tough road. Um, so we would ask that you would give the family members their space and let us go through the grieving process.  Mm, my family, appreciates all the support and the love that we’ve been shown.  They were a loving family, ...and I know that all of America loves the Mcstays. ...We're gonna find this individual, or individuals and everyone want’s to bring them to justice. ..And if it’s the last thing I do I wanna, I just wanna know ... that you know, ... when it’s over. Umm..(shakes head) that’s all.

Michael McStay was under duress when he spoke these words.  The video appears that he was not reading them. 

When someone is under duress, we recognize that the brain is working rapidly, with high levels of hormones, and choosing its words for the tongue to speak.  It is the words, themselves, that matter to us.  Here it is again, with emphasis added.  This is a short statement and it is that a longer statement, or one in which he recognizes that he may be under suspicion would yield us much more information from which to go on.  

"Good morning, it’s not really the outcome we were looking for. But umm… it gives us courage to know  that they're together and they're in a better place. 

When someone says "it's not really...", using the word "really", there is another thought (at least one) that the subject is thinking.  We do not know what he was thinking here, regarding other outcomes, but their death is worded in a strange way. 

If you found your family dead, would you say "this is not the outcome we were looking for"?  I would.  Yet, I must consider why he did not.  What has taken place in the past few years in conversations with family and with law enforcement?

He can only say that it was not "really" the outcome they were looking for, speaking for himself and others (plural). 

Did this come because the possibility of them being found dead was something they had discussed?  If so, it would have entered into this thinking.  Given the length of time that they had been missing, this possible ending would likely have been discussed many times, including with law enforcement. 

The passage of time will impact language.  His confidence or lack of confidence in law enforcement will impact language. 

The word "but" refutes, even if only in comparison, that which preceded it.  Here, the word "but" enters his vocabulary and it is that this "outcome" now gives them "courage";

what courage?

He answers:  "courage to know" something.  Why would he need courage to know something?

He needed courage to know:

1.  That they were together
2.  They they are in a better place.

Why might someone need courage to know that they were together?

The Expected:  Enter into this from the point of the subject being innocent, possessing no guilty knowledge of their disappearance or death.  Listen for what is expected and when you don't hear it, confront the "unexpected" for analysis. 

If your loved ones were missing, would you worry that they were separated?

I would.  

If your loved ones were found dead, would you need courage to believe that they are in a better place?

I would.  

Both thoughts are comforting to the suffering mind and are not indicative of deception. 

I know umm (I talked to?) my father, who is in Texas and my Aunt Carol, and um, it’s been a tough road. 

This may be a broken sentence, indicating missing information.  It is significant that the change from plural to singular has taken place.  It is personal.  It is important.  I do not know if he intended to say something else here.  He would "know" if he talked to his father and his aunt.  These two people are very important to the subject. 

Um, so we would ask that you would give the family members their space and let us go through the grieving process.  

He returns to "we", as speaking for the family.  This is expected.  

"would ask" is weak, and appropriately polite, likely revealing that he does not expect the media to allow them the space to grieve.  He may have made this request, rather than a demand, to not anger the media.  We all recognize how aggressive media can be. 

Is it the aggressiveness of media that he is thinking of?  Listen to him: 

Mm, my family, appreciates all the support and the love that we’ve been shown.  They were a loving family, ...and I know that all of America loves the Mcstays.

That they "were" a loving family is expected, given the passage of time. 
That America "loves", in the present tense, is also appropriate since he recognizes that this is a very large news story.  

thus far, he has spoken the expected. 

 ...We're gonna find this individual, or individuals 

To call the murderer (s) "this individual" is not expected, nor is "individuals", in the plural. 

Why not, "the killers"?  Why not the "murderers"?

The word "this" indicates closeness.  What has caused this word to enter his language?  Does he have an idea of who might have done this?  (that would make the killer "close").  

Why the soft language?  

If he has called them "killers" or other harsher terms in other statements, freely given, it may be that he has used soft language in an almost defeatist view of law enforcement not finding the murderers.  We do not know. 

and everyone want’s to bring them to justice. 

This statement is utterly unnecessary making it very important.  Why would anyone feel the need to report that "everyone" "wants", that is, has a desire, to bring them to justice?  This should not need to be said. 

This causes me to want to ask many questions about it, and it may be, that through the questions, we learn why. It is only when one may not want the killer brought to justice that the need to say such a thing arises.  This, plus the soft language, concerns me.  

..And if it’s the last thing I do 

This is expected, but only if it is completed.  That he does not complete it is concerning. 

"If its the last thing I do, I will find the killer!" is expected.  

He, however, does not say this, and I cannot say it for him.  Is he exasperated with law enforcement?  

I wanna, I just wanna know ... that you know, ... when it’s over. Umm.. that’s all.

This is also concerning but I must learn why it is concerning.  He wants to know "when it's over"...not when justice has been served?  What has been going on with law enforcement, with hopes raised, hopes dashed, etc.  I am not convinced that this is "unexpected."

Has he had many discussions with law enforcement that he led him to believe that they are so incompetent that this nightmare will never end?  It may be.  

We do not have enough statement to conclude guilty knowledge within this statement, but we have enough to need more information.  It may be that he does not possess guilty knowledge and should suspicion arise, he may speak directly to media and issue a reliable denial, but thus far,

I remain concerned but do not draw a conclusion based upon this statement.  Should Michael McStay be asked by media, we would have much more to go on.  

We do not jump to conclusions, and we recognize that the passage of time will have impact upon the family's reaction, especially if they have been frustrated by law enforcement.  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thanksgiving Story 2013

A Thanksgiving Story
by Peter Hyatt

Sean and C.K. Dexter Haven

This past summer, I put Sean in an expensive hockey camp at the University of Maine.  I did not know at the time how popular it was with the well-t-do hockey crowd.  It was a privilege to have instructors from the prestigious hockey program at the University of Maine teaching my son.  I was thrilled at the prospect, even while fretting over the cost. 

Wealthy kids from Boston to Canada attended, and the instructions were impressive.  The speeches from the coaches, alone, were worth the price of admission. 

Yet, I have never seen a worse group kids gathered together in one place, including juvenile detention centers.  

The coaches were strong, good men, yet were unable to control the kids' behavior.  Their mouths, in particular, were so accustomed to saying whatever it was they wanted, that it was shocking to the senses.  The new generation of ultra indulgent parents, who blame teachers, coaches, the government, or anyone else to avoid their own deficiencies, affirm the ill bred behavior.  Those parents foolish enough to submit their daughters to the rough treatment of boys only do so to set up their daughter's future abuse and domestic violence.  My son will not, even if ordered to by his coach, hit a girl.  To obey his conscience, and how he was raised, is more important than a game, and the authority of a father trumps that of a coach when it comes to morals.  Others are free to disagree and this freedom is something I respect.  I fear the incredible rise of domestic violence has occurred because we are not teaching our sons that masculinity is not the exploitation of weakness.  Masculinity is the sacrifice of strength, for right purposes.  The NFL players who, without mercy, take their aggression out on their wives and girlfriends are not "manly" in spite of their conquests on the field.

I am acutely aware of how old fashioned the Titanic Society of Women and Children First sounds today, but it might be a philosophy worth a second thought today as we have gone so far as to even long for the "Me Generation" of yesteryear.  We are the "Me Generation" on steroids, today, as our kids kill each other over "self esteem."  Everyone must be special and everyone must come in first place, and no kids should ever be corrected.

We are our worst enemy. 

Today's privileged parents demand the best for their son, others be damned.  The language of humility is utterly foreign to them, and treating others as you wish to be treated is for suckers.  This jello-shot, Canada Goose, Ugg boot hockey I-am-in-the-lcokerroom no matter who says I can't- mom's son must be the very best and get that lucrative NHL contract, and anyone who thinks otherwise is to be destroyed.  Her son must and will be honored above all others, forever and ever...or so today's parent projects.  

The privileged kids behavior.  

The kids behavior was so bad, and so out of control, that it reached the point  where they called the local police to lecture and, perhaps,  scare them into behaving. These privileged kids were abusive to each other and to the coaches in spite of the money paid to have the privilege of UMO's own hockey team's coaching staff teaching their children. Since Mommy and Daddy refuse to allow children to experience natural consequences in life, the warning from the cop fell upon the same deaf ears that the warnings from school teachers, grandparents, and other caring adults fell upon. 

The clinic itself was amazing.  I was mesmerized at the inspirational speeches, and was so pleased to see how hard my son worked, often falling behind in drills because he had to, when instructed, follow the rules to the letter.  If he was asked to skate over cones, he refused to cut corners, even though it slowed him down.  Each shift, he came off the ice exhausted.  At the end of Day one, he said, "I left everything on the ice, Dad."  I was proud of him. 

He told horror stories in the locker room, however, with one heart wrenching account of a boy who could not speak well, and was mercilessly being picked upon.  He wasn't interested in going into detail, however, and said, "Yeah, well, then I left."

Readers here know that when someone uses the word left to describe a departure, there is a story that is missing.  "Yeah, well, then I left."

Hmm.  What was Sean withholding?

The missing information is 70% likely due to rushing, such as time, or traffic, but with the 30% likelihood that there is a story to be told.

With his fatigue, and desperate need of a shower (hockey players and hockey parents know the smell I am referencing) I allowed him to not tell me, that is, until he was ready.  I only knew that Sean had taken a protective role towards the boy who was being bullied by the others.  The pecking order in locker rooms often begins with the biggest, and loudest and works its way down.  He always seeks to protect the weak; it is just his nature.  He is not big, but has a big heart.  

At the last day of the clinic, I was walking in the Alfond Arena when I saw a man with "AD" on his jacket, and realized he was one of the Athletic Directors of UMaine, I said, "You've got a fine group of young men here."

I just couldn't resist.  Those of you who know me, know I just couldn't.

I like talking to people and I listen with the ears of Statement Analysis.  It can be tiring, but in short bursts, it can be exhilarating.  

He said, "Oh, yes, the finest we've had in years!"

I said, "You miss my sarcasm."

He said, "No, you missed mine" with a smile.

He said, "Well, in all the chaos, there was one bright spot.  There was a kid down there with autism that the kids were all picking on because he could not speak well.  Apparently, one kid kept telling the others to leave him alone, but finally had enough, and threw the biggest bully against the lockers.  The kid wasn't even big, yet he did this and it seemed to help. Shoved him right up against the locker, told him to shut his mouth, in front of the whole group!"

I said, "Wow, that's some special kid.  See?  They weren't all bad, right?"

"Yeah", he said, "He's a good kid to do that.  Hmmm.  Sean something or another, I think."

I said, "Oh, that's interesting.  I have a son that plays here and his name is Sean."

A big smile came across both of our faces.  The AD shook my hand.

I am so very thankful that the bully was stopped, if only for a moment in time, and the autistic child felt protected by another.

I am thankful for Sean's teacher who gets paid far less than what she is worth, who, at no possible positive consequence for herself, loved Sean enough to tell me early this year that he was not behaving.  She told me this with a shell-shocked look on her face, prepared for me to blast her on how she must not be "inspiring"him enough.

I am thankful for the other parents I know who deliberately disappoint their children, to prepare them for life, and who honor and respect women, to set examples of how a boy should later reverence his own wife.

I am thankful for the professional teachers, underpaid, under appreciated, and often the projected target of parental abdication, yet continue on and on, for the good of our children.

I am thankful for the courage of the parents of the autistic boy who, in spite of knowing how vicious kids can be, still let their son enjoy the thrill of ice hockey.  I admire their courage.

I am thankful for those who sacrifice their own happiness, for the sake of their own children, going without, to make sure their children are provided for.

                   There are heroes in every day life out there, one needs only to look.

A single mother of two teens, working two jobs, desperate to teach her children the ethics of hard work and honesty, standing up to her boss for what she believes in. Putting her children first, her life became more difficult, solely for their benefit.  She knows that in a few short years, they will be gone, and she must now do what is right for them, even while her cowardly ex husband keeps his distance from those who most desperately need a father. I so admire her fortitude.

 She is a hero.

She is one who's respect I'd like to earn.

Victims of domestic violence, who bravely help others, in the spirit of our now lost friend, Susan Murphy Milano.

She was, and is, a hero.  She being dead, yet speaks, in her works and in her book, "Holding My Hand In Hell", as well as in her legacy carried on by those who loved her.

Young men, struggling to make a living, yet refuse to give in, and keep pushing back against life, in the quest to overcome....they are heroes.

A woman loses her own daughter, and finds the strength to go on, even when getting out of bed takes all of her strength.  She is a hero.

The victims of childhood sexual abuse, with all the horror within their souls, raging through them, day and night, yet, go on to not abuse others, but show kindness and mercy, even to the abuser.

They are our heroes.

A man loses his beloved five year old son, somehow finds the ability to not only survive, but thrive, and seek to become a legal voice for those who cannot defend themselves. '

He is a hero.

He is a hero in the name of his son and in his son's honor.

A woman's beloved daughter is murdered, and she finds the strength to speak to the killer, forgive him, and dedicate her life to finding missing children.

She is a hero.

The business owner who has to, on his or her capable shoulders, carry the burden of the employees, their spouses, and their children, and make tough decisions and sacrifices every day in order to keep the business going in spite of taxes that King George never dreamed possible from which to drain the life from a business.

They are heroes.

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things...things that will never make it to a blog, or be noticed by others.

 A married mother of two, never stopping to help out a friend in dire need of assistance, no matter the emotional toll it takes upon her, she gives, and she gives, and she gives.

She is a hero.

These are heroes. Heroes are out there, right before you, setting for us all, examples to follow.

For a moment in time, so was Sean... a hero.

Robert E. Lee, home finally after months away, was walking through the woods with his young daughter when he noticed that she was walking in his footprints, following him precisely.

"It behooves me", he said, "to walk straight in life.."

Well said.

Happy Thanksgiving,


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Deputy Jeremy Banks 911 Call Analzyed

The Scientific Content Analysis (SCAN) system was developed by Avinoam Sapir, and it is the basis for all Statement Analysis today.  Mr. Sapir's website is LSI   Any claim to the contrary is fraudulent and intellectual theft.

He taught investigators to begin with "the expected" and to then analyze the "unexpected."  This is the same everywhere there is communication, including emails, texts, interviews, and 911 calls.

This is a domestic homicide call where the victim  Michelle O’Connell died.  The NY Times article has mocked the investigation into the 2010 death.  I would like to analyze the transcripts of Jeremy Banks' interview.  It will reveal the truth of whether he murdered her, or if she committed suicide.  Statement Analysis always gets to the truth. 

                                    What do we expect from a 911 call?

We expect urgency, therefore, in a domestic homicide, we do not expect a greeting.  (See Sergio Celis, Tiffany Hartley 911 calls).

We do expect someone to be upset and not giggling when his 7 year old child is missing  (also see Sergio Celis).

We do expect the caller to ask for help for the victim.  This is what Avinoam Sapir called, quite simply, the "expected."  If someone does not, who does the caller ask for help for?

We listen, in every statement, for an apology of any kind.

We listen for truth, and not qualifiers.  We use the same principles of analysis applied everywhere in statements.  We set up what we expect ("I didn't do it") versus what we hear ("Dead squirrels crawled up my engine...") and we are faced with the unexpected for analysis.

Deputy Jeremy Banks made this 911 call.  First is the transcript, then it is repeated, with emphasis added, with Statement Analysis in bold type.

Question for Analyst:  Does Jeremy Banks make this call as a caller with guilty knowledge of the death of Michelle O'Connell?

PS:  More to come on this case.  See'Connell%20Case%20Review.pdf

911 Call.


JEREMY BANKS: HEY! Please get someone to my house! It’s 4700 Sherlock Place. Please!

DISPATCHER: What’s going on?

JEREMY BANKS: Please! Send─ my girlfriend, I THINK she just shot herself! There’s blood everywhere!


JEREMY BANKS: She shot herself! Please! [unintelligible] Get someone here please.

DISPATCHER: Ma’am? Ma’am, I need you to calm down.

JEREMY BANKS: It’s mister! It’s SIR!

DISPATCHER: Ma’am, listen to me─

JEREMY BANKS: It’s SIR! It’s SIR. Listen─ hang on, LET ME TELL YOU THE TRUTH. I’m Deputy Banks with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. I work with y’all. Get someone here now!

DISPATCHER: Ok i need you to calm down you know how it goes. Whats the address ? I don't..

JEREMY BANKS: 4700 Sherlock Place.

DISPATCHER: Ok what's going on there?

JEREMY BANKS: My girlfriend has just shot herself with my duty weapon. Please get someone here now please.

DISPATCHER: Sir were doing that while in talking to you. is she still breathing ?

JEREMY BANKS: No,there is blood coming out of everywhere.-please.

DISPATCHER: Ok, she's not breathing.

JEREMY BANKS: Call dispatch on Tac 2, get them here now.

DISPATCHER: Sir their on the phone i need you to calm down.

JEREMY BANKS: Please please please-

DISPATCHER: Jeremy were coming as fast as we can ok? Calm down for me ok.

JEREMY BANKS: Please, you don't understand she just shot herself, pleases get someone here.

Here is now the same transcript (thanks John!) with analysis and emphasis added.

911 Call.


JEREMY BANKS: HEY! Please get someone to my house! It’s 4700 Sherlock Place. Please!

I'm not sure if everyone will consider that "Hey" is a greeting of sorts, but I believe it is.  
Note that the caller does not here ask for help for the victim, only to get "someone" to his house.  

DISPATCHER: What’s going on?

JEREMY BANKS: Please! Send─ my girlfriend, I THINK she just shot herself! There’s blood everywhere!

I'm not a big fan of capitalizing things spoken, but these are the transcripts I have to work with. 

Please notice the weak commitment.  He only "thinks" she has "just" shot herself.  He does not know this?  He is unable to bring himself to say "she shot herself" at first.  He allows for someone to "think" that someone else may have shot her, or even for himself to think contrary.  

He does not specifically ask for help for the victim....yet.  


JEREMY BANKS: She shot herself! Please! [unintelligible] Get someone here please.

He now drops the word "think" from his initial statement.  

DISPATCHER: Ma’am? Ma’am, I need you to calm down.


JEREMY BANKS: It’s mister! It’s SIR!

Not only does he want to clarify his gender, but he wants to be respected:  call him "Sir"

This is likely more important than many realize.  When a man holds a gun, he holds power and authority.  Those unarmed are at a significant disadvantage.  Insecure law officers are  a danger and menace to society.  There is little nobility in hiding behind a bush and pulling over a driver for going 10mph faster than others, just to make money, so when someone with insecurity is given authority, much patience is needed when said cop approaches a car.  

Yet, this is also significant because we are all wondering if there was domestic violence in this relationship and the more insecure he is, the more I am going to wonder if his girlfriend did not show him the "respect" he feels he needs.  This one word, "Sir!" would have sent Domestic Violence expert Susan Murphy Milano into writing an entire article about insecure and demanding law enforcement:  her own father was one, who killed her mother. 
DISPATCHER: Ma’am, listen to me─

His voice did sound high at this point.  Let's now see if the insecurity of not being addressed as "Sir!" matters:

JEREMY BANKS: It’s SIR! It’s SIR. Listen─ hang on, Let me tell you the truth. I’m Deputy Banks with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. I work with y’all. Get someone here now!

"Sir" is repeated, making the title of respect sensitive to the subject.  If you know anything about domestic violence, you're choking on this one now. 

But next he signals that he is deceptive:  he prefaces his words with "Let me tell you the truth."  This is a strong indication that what he is about to say is true, but other things may not be.  

"I'm Deputy Banks"; note that he uses title, rather than first and last name.  He sounds like one who is desperate for respect.  This does not bode well for the girlfriend.  

Note that he now demands that they get someone out there, but fails to ask for help for the victim.  He does not beg, he orders.  This is part of who he is. 

DISPATCHER: Ok i need you to calm down you know how it goes. Whats the address ? I don't..

JEREMY BANKS: 4700 Sherlock Place.

DISPATCHER: Ok what's going on there?

This is the best question.  It allows him to begin his statement where he chooses, as well as choose his own words:  
JEREMY BANKS: My girlfriend has just shot herself with my duty weapon. Please get someone here now please.

Note that he no longer "thinks" she shot herself, but goes into extra detail.  Not only did she shoot herself, but did so with his weapon; his "duty" weapon.  He is no longer just "Sir" calling who thinks his girlfriend might have shot herself, he has changed:  he is now "Deputy Banks", sounding self important, and demanding, acknowledging that the weapon was his "duty" weapon and it belonged to him.   He returns to "please" (repeated) rather than order, but he still has not asked for help for the victim. 
DISPATCHER: Sir were doing that while in talking to you. is she still breathing ?

JEREMY BANKS: No,there is blood coming out of everywhere.-please.

Specifically, where is blood coming out of?
DISPATCHER: Ok, she's not breathing.

JEREMY BANKS: Call dispatch on Tac 2, get them here now.

Deputy Banks is now telling Dispatch how to do its job.  He still, however, hasn't asked for help for the victim.  
DISPATCHER: Sir their on the phone i need you to calm down.

JEREMY BANKS: Please please please-

DISPATCHER: Jeremy were coming as fast as we can ok? Calm down for me ok.

JEREMY BANKS: Please, you don't understand she just shot herself, pleases get someone here.

Here is leakage.  He has first reported that she may have shot herself, but then changed to the affirmative, without question.  Yet, he feels the need to persuade with "you don't understand."

What does Dispatch not understand?  This is something that readers may wish to question. 

It may be that he has failed to sound convincing to the Dispatcher, that in spite of repeating that she shot herself, he has failed to cause Dispatch to "understand" this?

He did not ask for help for his victim and there are signals in his call that he may not be telling the truth.  What it is that is to be understood is that he needed to persuade Dispatch that she shot herself.  Why would he need them to understand this?  Would it matter, to the bleeding victim, who pulled the trigger?

It matters very much to the caller.  

I would be very surprised if the victim's family did not hear of at least some reports of domestic violence or threatening by this caller.  

It is a short call, but there are signals that Deputy Jeremy Banks was not truthful in this call.  

Thanks to John for the transcription!  

Statement Analysis: SCAMS Defeated by SCAN

If only...

If only that Nigerian prince had contacted me earlier.  I could have given him my account number, let him park a cool 10 million in my account for a week or so, and I would have made $100,000 for nothing!  

If only I was George Anthony.  

It's fascinating and we will be looking at some upcoming ads and fraudulent attempts to steal in the upcoming weeks.  

There's lots of scams attempting to sell dogs..."Please help.  I am a foreign missionary and am going overseas soon, and cannot bring my beloved dog __________ (breed).  I must serve God, therefore, I give him to you for free!  He is champion bloodlines.  You, please, just pay for shipping."

Foreigners are foreign to themselves and do not call themselves such.  Remember, "we are a small foreign faction" that Patsy Ramsey comically wrote in her "ransom" note?

Here's one for you that is almost comically written with English as a second language.  Speaking of languages...

It reminds me of the Chinese joke going around Peking these days:

"What do you call someone who speaks two languages?  Bi-lingual. 
What do you call someone who speaks three languages?  Tri-lingual.
Well, what do you call someone who only speaks one language?

Answer:  American. "






EMAIL: ( )
EMAIL: ( )






"I Promise" in Statement Analysis

$500 Curling Iron?

My daughter, Christina and I had an interesting date at our local mall last Saturday.

We went from store to store, window shopping, stopping to allow perfume testers, skin care experts and make up artists practice their craft upon her.  We met some interesting people and had a few laughs while we talked 'shop' with the dedicated followers of beauty, commenting on color coordination, skin tone, and the best products available.

Christina is just shy of 14, and an A+ student in a private school.  She takes her school work seriously, as well as her hobbies.  She loves to read, write, and befriend anyone in need.

                                             She also loves to curl her hair.

We came upon a boutique set up in the mall in which curling irons were being sold. Christina, among other things, loves to catch liars (I know, I know, but she's young, still) and with her love of all things girlie, a boutique selling "very special" curling irons was the ticket.

The salesman was pleasant, but very aggressive.  As some of his sentences contained too many words, I cautioned him, politely, that Christina would catch him. He was unflustered by me, and spoke incessantly, as he used the curling iron to make beautiful curls in her very straight hair.  He said that the curls would need nothing to stay, unlike other curling irons, and said that they would even hold up under water.

"Here, Dad, let me demonstrate.  This is just ordinary tap water.  I promise.  See?" as he sprayed a bit into my hand. "It is just water, H20, nothing but water, I promise."

Christina knows that anything repeated is important, but when one needs to buttress his own words, it is a signal that he is not truthful.

Indeed, the "promise" of being ordinary tap water was true, I whispered to her, but it signals that other things he was saying was not.

"So, how much for this amazing curling iron?" I asked.

He said, "Hmm!  Just a minute.  Now, you know that..." and off he went.

"You avoided the question", I said.  "Now my daughter knows the question is important."

He pointed to the box where it said, "$500" and turned to me and said, "You are a caring father.  For you, this, no this, is just too much.  $250!"

I reached for my cell phone to see if it had an app to jump start my heart.

He said, "Oh, no.  It is not for sale at amazon."

I had not searched Amazon.

"Now, you know, I am not the owner, but here is the owner, and you want to make sure that these curls stay in so in 30 minutes, well actually, the next 29, if you buy it, for you, and only  you, as as a good dad, if you do not tell others, you can have it for $210!"

I said, "You should not have said, "I promise" before."

He said, "But it really is ordinary tap water!"

I said, "yes, but you signaled that you were lying about something else by needing to promise that which I could prove."

He brushed this off and continued to address my daughter directly.  With his back turned to me, I touched my nose to signal Christina that he was caught.

We know each other well.

She looked at me as if to say, "Yes, Dad, I caught him too" and with her eyes, she smiled the smile of recognition.

We said we would walk around for the next half hour and let them know.

"27 minutes!" he said.

The same curling iron, in the same packaging is available at Amazon for $39.

(free shipping, too).

When someone says "I promise", it is often that the person is telling the truth and wants to be believed.  It is the need, however, to use such emphasis that tells you that other things the person said may not be true, and, in fact, should be questioned.

Listening is a skill, like any other, that can be developed and practiced, over time.

Follow pronouns.  Let your ears tingle when you expect to hear "I", yet you hear, "we."

Training investigators can be challenging, but when they are from the private sector, there is often a faster pace to the training.  These are often higher educated, higher paid, and more intent on learning, and can make the class dynamics soar with adrenaline.

Yet, there can still be a heavy stop sign.

A few years ago, I was conducting a class that was going well.  The body language and responses told me that these investigators were "getting it" and moving along well.  There was one, however, who's folded arms suggested otherwise.

She was tense, quiet, but when she did respond, she was intelligent. Yet, there was that disapproving scowl over her face.

Finally, appearing as if she had enough,  she spoke up.

"I just can't buy into this Statement Analysis thing.  Oh yeah, a lot makes sense, but this one area really bothers me", she said.

"What is that?" I asked.

I had warned them, early on Day One, that they would be tempted to use the sentence, "Statement Analysis does not work because I..."

I told them that in dealing with statistics, if we say something is "80% likely" that they may fall into the 20% category and want to dismiss analysis based upon their own experience in life, in one particular area.  I cautioned them to note that pronoun, "I" in their objection.

This investigator, intelligent as she was, could not.

"Well, this whole thing about someone saying, 'I swear to God, I promise, Honest to God, I swear on my mother's grave' is just not true."

"How do you know it is not true?" I asked.

"I know it is not true because my sister and I.  We are very close.  For more than 30 years we have had this rule since we were kids.  If we say 'I swear to God' we are not allowed to lie to each other.  When we say "I swear to God', we do not lie to each other.  It has been like this for more than 30 years, since we were little."

I stood silently as the class was utterly silent in waiting for my response.

I held my peace.

Slowly, with just one or two at first, signals of recognition came across faces, and then cracks of smiles.

Attendees looked at one another, some seeing the smiles and understanding, while others searching the faces for understanding.

Then the chuckles started, and then...

the laughter.

The now embarrassed investigator still did not understand.

"You just proved Statement Analysis" I said to her.

She was neither amused nor did her face show recognition.  Later, I overheard someone explain to her that she just admitted that she and her sister lied to each other with impunity, but when they used the oath, they could not follow their norm of lying.

To this date, I do not know if she ever 'got it' but I have my hopes and my illusions in tact.

NY Times Storey of Dep Jeremy Banks

As requested:  The 911 call shows deception on the part of the Deputy.  Statement Analysis of this case is not 

challenging.  Research by Avinoam Sapir is applied to 911 calls with the same "expected
versus unexpected" SCAN applies elsewhere.  
Conclusion:  Guilty knowledge by the caller. 

Two Gunshots
On a Summer Night

A Deputy’s Pistol, a Dead Girlfriend, a Flawed Inquiry

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. — News of the shooting arrived via police radio as Deputy Debra Maynard and two other officers were sipping late-night coffee at the Hess gas station, a brightly lit outpost on a slumbering stretch of Dixie Highway on St. Augustine’s south side.
“The call came out, Signal 18, shot fired, possibly one of our own,” Ms. Maynard recalled. “When you hear it’s one of your own — adrenaline’s pumping.”
At 11:25 p.m., the three St. Johns County officers arrived at 4700 Sherlock Place, a one-story suburban house in this historic seaside community. A young deputy, Jonathan Hawley, was already there. “Oh my God,” he cried, seeing a young woman he knew lying on the bedroom floor, an inert, bloody mess.
Michelle O’Connell, 24, the doting mother of a 4-year-old girl, was dying from a gunshot in the mouth. Next to her was a semiautomatic pistol that belonged to her boyfriend, Jeremy Banks, a deputy sheriff for St. Johns County. A second bullet had burrowed into the carpet by her right arm.
Ms. Maynard quickly escorted Mr. Banks, who had been drinking, out of the house. “All of a sudden he started growling like an animal,” she said. With his fists, Mr. Banks pounded dents in a police car.
“I grabbed him and tuned him up,” another deputy, Wesley Grizzard, recalled. “I told him, I don’t care if you’re intoxicated or not, you better sober up.”
Within minutes of the shooting on Sept. 2, 2010, Mr. Banks’s friends, family and even off-duty colleagues began showing up, offering hugs and moral support. He huddled with his stepfather, a deputy sheriff in another county, before a detective interviewed him in a police car.
  • Mr. Banks’s AccountDetective Jessica Hines interviews Jeremy Banks on the night of the shooting. (3:17)

  • Hines: All right, this is Detective Hines. It is
  • officially September 3rd at 1:23 in the morning.
  • Um...
  • Jeremy... I'm here with Jeremy Banks.
  • Hines: Jeremy, tell me about tonight. Where...
  • Tell me where you were you at, what did you guys have going on?
  • Banks: We were at the amphitheater for the concert that went on.
  • And, but, we argued a little bit there.
  • We, you know, argued a little bit earlier today, but nothing terrible.
  • Just we were both fed up with each other’s bullcrap that we’ve been going —
  • Banks: we’ve been dealing with.
  • We’ve been together a year and some odd months.
  • I guess a month now. But – um...
  • We were at the show, I enjoyed the show, she enjoyed the show from what I understand.
  • Banks: And in the car, we were talking about it. We had decided that we were gonna break up.
  • She was gonna move out.
  • Banks: We came home and we weren’t arguing when we got home.
  • We got home and
  • We, we talked about it, we just said, you know, enough’s enough.
  • We’ve been fighting, we’re done
  • Banks: and we’re tired of each other’s ——.
  • I told her that I do love her, that I love Alexis, her little girl.
  • But, I just don’t feel like she’s — that we’re best friends any more.
  • We just, it’s not working out. And she agreed...
  • Banks: I sat on my motorcycle and that’s when I...
  • I heard the gun pop.
  • Hines: You... You were outside in the yard? Driveway?
  • Banks: My motorcycle was in the garage, I was sitting on it with my head down.
  • Just upset about, you know, the breakup.
  • Hines: Sure.
  • Banks: I heard it pop and I knew exactly what it was.
  • Just instinct. I just said, “Oh ——.”
  • And I ran inside, I started screaming her name and the bedroom door was locked and...
  • I screamed her name again.
  • Banks: I heard it go off again for the second time.
  • I ran into the living room, I grabbed the phone, and I kicked the bedroom door in.
  • And I found her laying where she is.
  • And the sheriff’s office showed up.
  • Hines: OK.
  • Hines: What was it —  what’d you get to drink tonight?
  • Banks: I was drinking beer.
  • Hines: What kind of beer?
  • Banks: Bud Light.
  • Hines: Ugh.
  • Banks: Big ones.
  • Not gonna lie.
  • Hines: How many do you think you had?
  • Banks: Four? Five maybe?
  • Hines: OK.
  • Hines: And I know this part’s really hard, Jeremy, but...
  • When you did get that door open...
  • You’re on the phone with 9-1-1. Tell me, tell me exactly what you did.
  • Banks: I kicked the door open.
  • I kind of veered in and I saw her feet. I ran in.
  • I saw the blood coming out
  • and I just grabbed her hand and I started
  • Banks: I dialed 9-1-1.
With his off-duty sergeant listening from the front seat, Mr. Banks gave this account: Ms. O’Connell had broken up with him and was packing to move out when she shot herself with his service weapon. He said he had been in another room.
Ms. O’Connell’s family, immediately suspicious, received a starkly different reception from the authorities. Less than two hours before she died, Ms. O’Connell had texted her sister, who was watching her daughter: “I’ll be there soon.” Yet when her outraged brother tried to visit the scene, officers blocked his way. The family’s request for an independent investigation was rebuffed, as was one sister’s attempt to tell the police that in the months before she died, Ms. O’Connell said she had been subjected to domestic abuse by Mr. Banks.
Before the sun rose the next morning over this place that calls itself “the nation’s oldest city,” the sheriff’s investigation was all but over.

Michelle O’Connell and Jeremy Banks, in a photo provided by the O’Connell family.
Ms. O’Connell, the sheriff’s office concluded, took her own life. Detectives were so certain in their judgment that they never tested the forensic evidence collected after the shooting. Nor did they interview her family and friends, who would have told them that she was ecstatic over a new full-time job with benefits, including health insurance for her daughter.
Over time, though, the official narrative began to change. The sheriff asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to re-examine the case, and investigators found two neighbors who said they had heard a woman screaming for help that night, followed by gunshots. Their account prompted the medical examiner to revise his opinion from suicide to homicide, a conclusion shared by the crime reconstruction expert hired by state investigators.
Eventually, however, a special prosecutor appointed by Gov. Rick Scott decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute and closed the case early last year. But that was hardly the final word. The state law enforcement agency asked for a special inquest into the death, saying significant questions remained. The sheriff, David B. Shoar, struck back in support of his officer, prompting an extraordinary conflict between two powerful law enforcement agencies.
And through it all, the O’Connell family continued to believe that the sheriff’s office, investigating one of its own, had blinded itself to the possibility that the shooting was a fatal case of domestic violence.
Domestic abuse is believed to be the most frequently unreported crime, and it is particularly corrosive when it involves the police. Taught to wield authority through control, threats or actual force, officers carry their training, their job stress and their guns home with them, amplifying the potential for abuse.
Yet nationwide, interviews and documents show, police departments have been slow to recognize and discipline abusers in uniform, largely because of a predominantly male blue wall of silence. Victims are often reluctant to file complaints, fearing that an officer’s colleagues simply will not listen or understand, or that if they do, the abuser may be stripped of his weapon and ultimately his family’s livelihood.
Officers investigating possible domestic violence face special circumstances “when it’s somebody you know or you’ve worked with,” said Mark Wynn, a former Nashville police official who teaches departments how to use model rules for handling domestic violence in their ranks. “Like the military, you build bonds together by saving one another’s lives.”
The model rules, issued by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, insist on zero tolerance for abusers and urge departments to begin formal investigations of all complaints immediately. Yet most departments, including the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, follow only parts of the policy. Law enforcement officers in Florida are arrested on charges of domestic abuse more often than they are on charges of any other form of misconduct, but other offenses are far more likely to cost them their jobs, according to an analysis by The New York Times of more than 29,000 complaints received by the state.
In St. Johns County, a review of records found three cases in recent years in which sheriff’s officers failed to open immediate investigations of domestic-abuse reports involving their colleagues. Two years before Ms. O’Connell’s death, supervisors learned of accusations of domestic abuse against an officer, but followed up aggressively only after his frightened wife fled the house naked, clutching her child, and called the authorities. Dismissal was recommended, but the sheriff kept the officer on staff.
The O’Connell case, in which the sheriff’s department failed to explore the possibility of domestic violence, is a vivid demonstration of what can go wrong in an inquiry when the police, lacking effective supervision and a clear mandate, confront potential abuse in their own ranks.
“A Death in St. Augustine,” a “Frontline“ documentary produced in conjunction with this article, will have its premiere at 10 p.m. Tuesday on most PBS stations. The full film is online now.
The Times examined the case in collaboration with the PBS investigative news program “Frontline,” reviewing police, medical and legal records, interviewing dozens of people connected to the case, and consulting independent forensic and law enforcement experts.
The examination found that the investigation was mishandled from the start, not just by the sheriff and his officers, but also by medical examiners who espoused scientifically suspect theories that went unchallenged by prosecutors. Because detectives concluded so quickly that the shooting was a suicide, investigators failed to perform the police work that is standard in suspicious shootings, including collecting and testing all available evidence and canvassing neighbors.
“This investigation stinks,” said Vernon J. Geberth, a former New York City police commander and the author of a widely used textbook on investigating suspicious deaths, who reviewed the case at The Times’s request. “Every death investigation should be treated as a homicide until proven differently.”
Sheriff Shoar, the most powerful elected official in this North Florida county and a former co-chairman of its domestic violence task force, declined to be interviewed for this article. But in a letter to The Times, he said, “I have a long history of holding subordinates accountable.”
Yet only when The Times began examining the case more than two years after the young mother’s death did the sheriff publicly acknowledge that his investigators “prematurely embraced the mind-set” that she had killed herself.
Even so, he defended his inquiry in a 153-page report and attacked those who had found fault with it, particularly two agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. At the sheriff’s request, the state agency is investigating his accusation that the agents engaged in misconduct during their inquiry.
Mr. Banks declined to be interviewed. But he has told investigators that he never harmed Ms. O’Connell. He recently filed suit against the state agency and its lead investigator, alleging misconduct.
In his letter, Sheriff Shoar called Mr. Banks a fine young man stigmatized for life.
“This case,” the sheriff wrote, “has been and always will be a suicide.”

The First Responders

WHAT STRUCK CRYSTAL LYNN CUZZORT MOST were the little red slippers, just like ones her daughter used to have.
“I remember looking around and seeing little kids’ stuff and pictures,” said Ms. Cuzzort, one of the paramedics who was trying to save Ms. O’Connell as her airway filled with blood.
Ms. Cuzzort found herself wondering what had really happened. “Not that it’s out of the ordinary for anyone to commit suicide — we know that — but it is not common that a girl that age, 23, 24 years old, however old she was, but to have a young child and to commit suicide. She was a really pretty girl, and it looked like she was well taken care of,” she said. “She just didn’t fit the picture of typical suicide.”
Twenty-three minutes after the police arrived, Ms. O’Connell was pronounced dead.
The following account of that night is based largely on sworn, recorded interviews by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
  • The 911 CallMr. Banks reports the shooting. (1:06)

  • Operator: 9-1-1.
  • Banks: Hey!
  • Please get someone to my house, it’s 4700 Sherlock Place.
  • Operator: What’s going on?
  • Banks: Please, it’s my girlfriend, I think she just shot herself, there’s blood everywhere, please—
  • Operator: She what?
  • Banks: She shot herself. Please—
  • Operator: OK, one—
  • Banks: Please just get somebody here please—
  • Operator: Ma’am? Ma’am, I need ya to calm down.
  • Banks: It’s mister, it’s sir!
  • Operator: Ma’am, listen to me.
  • Banks: It’s sir, it’s sir. Listen, hang on, now look here, let me tell you the truth.
  • I’m Deputy Banks with the St. Johns County sheriff’s office. I’m, I work with ya’ll.
  • Get someone here now!
  • Operator: OK I need you to calm down, then. You know how it goes.
  • What's the address? I don't—
  • Banks: 4700 Sherlock Place.
  • Operator: OK, what's going on there?
  • Banks: — my girlfriend just shot herself with my duty weapon.
  • Please get someone here now. Please.
  • Operator: Sir, we’re doing that while I’m talking to you. Is she still breathing?
  • Banks: No! There’s blood coming out of everywhere. Please—
  • Operator: OK, so she’s not breathing.
  • Banks: Call dispatch on tac 2, get them here now.
  • Operator: Sir they are on the phone, I need you to calm down.
  • Banks: — please, please, please—
  • Operator: Jeremy, we're coming as fast as we can, OK?
  • Calm down for me, OK?
  • Banks: Please, you don’t understand, she just shot herself.
  • Please get someone here, please!
The job of informing the family fell to Ms. Maynard and another officer. They stopped first to tell Ms. O’Connell’s brother Scott, himself a St. Johns deputy. He had introduced his sister to Mr. Banks.
“I said, ‘Michelle’s not with you anymore,’ ” Ms. Maynard said. After the initial shock, he “did the strangest thing,” she said. “He immediately got up and got his gun, and we weren’t sure what he was going to do with it. And brought it to us and his car keys and said: ‘Please take these away from me right now. Get them out of here.’ ”
Mr. O’Connell then drove with Ms. Maynard to see his mother, Patty, who also worked at the sheriff’s office, as a file clerk. “My mom opened the door with a smile on her face — heartbreaking,” he said.
Back at 4700 Sherlock Place, investigators knew little beyond what Mr. Banks had told them — that after hearing the first shot, he ran in from the garage, heard the second shot, broke down the locked door and called 911. There was no suicide note, no apparent witnesses. A child suddenly had no mother to care for her.

Diagram based on police photos of the scene.
And the sheriff faced an important decision: have his office investigate the case itself or, as is often done when an officer may be involved in a suspicious shooting, call in independent investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
If anyone seriously considered this, it is not reflected in the sheriff’s official reports. The next month, Sheriff Shoar’s point man on the case, Lt. Charles Bradley, told the O’Connell family that the state’s investigators did not have the experience for the task.
“To be honest with you,” he said, according to a recording of the meeting, “my investigators are far and above better than what F.D.L.E. is ever going to give you.”
He did not disclose that the two lead detectives on the case had worked just three homicides between them, or that one supervisor had been disciplined for an “inept” investigation of an attempted murder, records show.
Lieutenant Bradley did object to the tone of the family’s questions.
“I feel like this is a damned inquisition on me,” he said. “I haven’t done anything wrong, guys. The sheriff’s office hasn’t done anything wrong.”
The early consensus among the detectives was that Ms. O’Connell had taken her own life. “For her to stand still and allow somebody to put a firearm in her mouth is ridiculous,” Eugene Tolbert, one of two detectives on the case, said.
Plus, there was “absolutely no bruising on Michelle,” indicating the absence of a struggle, Lieutenant Bradley told the family. That wasn’t exactly correct: she had a bleeding cut above her right eye, an injury that would become a central forensic issue in the case.
Not all of the officers were so certain about what had happened.

“I’ll just say it — when I first walked into that room, the first thought that went through my mind was, this is not good for Jeremy,” said Sgt. Scott Beaver, who initially took charge of the scene. “We need to document the scene as it is as much as possible, because I felt there would be questions later on.”
At his direction, an officer took photographs that show the gun — a Heckler & Koch .45-caliber pistol — on the ground just inches from Ms. O’Connell’s left hand, suggesting that she would have used her weaker hand to shoot herself. Curiously, the gun’s tactical search light, attached to the barrel, is on. There is also the unexplained second bullet, buried in the carpet several inches from her body.
“I mean, I was in the homicide unit for a few years, and it didn’t add up,” Sergeant Beaver said. “But I didn’t do more investigation into this to see why things were like they were.”
Officers also found two empty pill bottles belonging to Mr. Banks visible in Ms. O’Connell’s open purse. Pills from those bottles were found in her jeans pocket, and tests later found alcohol but no trace of pills in her system. If she had intended to kill herself by overdosing, why did she shoot herself? Lieutenant Bradley theorized that Ms. O’Connell made a “snap” decision.
Still, she would have had to pull the gun from its retention holster — designed to make it difficult for an unauthorized person, particularly one unfamiliar with guns, to withdraw a weapon.
Detective Tolbert said that every time something “bugged me” about the crime scene, there was a plausible explanation.
“You could say, she was holding the gun in her left hand, but she’s right-handed — that’s suspicious,” he said. But if she was intent on suicide, it would not matter which hand she used.
“As far as two shots being fired,” the detective added, “that kind of bugged me. But the more I thought about it, well, if she’s not familiar with the weapon, which is kind of what I got by the fact that the tac light is on, maybe she’s sitting here and she’s looking at this thing and doesn’t know how and, you know, then lets one ride by accident.”
The other detective, Jessica Hines, said she found nothing to suggest anything other than suicide.
Hours later, a sheriff’s officer, dropping off Ms. O’Connell’s car keys, visited her sister Christine. “He comes up and says: ‘Well, the investigation is done. It’s a suicide,’ ” she said.

Michelle O’Connell’s sister Christine; her mother, Patty; and her close friend Ciara Morris.
The quick embrace of suicide colored investigators’ decisions from the start.
“It’s almost in police officers’ DNA, when they hear the word suicide, it’s like, ‘Oh, O.K., it’s not an important crime,’ ” said Mr. Geberth, the expert on homicide investigations. “Assume the suicide position — take shortcuts, don’t do this, don’t do that.”
In fact, though investigators collected the gun, clothing and other evidence, they never tested it for fingerprints, DNA or gunshot residue. Officers also failed to canvass neighbors; failed to file required reports on what officers had seen that night; failed to download Mr. Banks’s cellphone data or collect and test one of the shirts he wore that night and failed to isolate and photograph Mr. Banks before he was interviewed.
Two days after the shooting, a medical examiner, Dr. Frederick Hobin,performed an autopsy and concluded that Ms. O’Connell had taken her own life.
One morning over coffee, Dr. Hobin explained that because suicides are so fraught with emotion, they should be investigated even more rigorously than homicides.
“Investigating a suicide,” he said, “is like letting out a black dog that will come back later and bite you.”