Friday, January 16, 2015

Domestic Violence: Statement and Behavioral Analysis

At approximately 4:20AM on New Year's Day, 2015, Peachtree City Police Chief William McCollum called 911 to report a gun shot wound.

That is what he reported.  He did not report that his wife was shot, or that he shot his wife.  He reported a gun shot wound.  The complete analysis is found HERE

In the course of this call, the 911 operator asked questions,  like pulling teeth, slow, painful and with stubborn results.

The slow pace left the 911 operator with the impression that the subject (caller) was not helping her, but hindering her, in her job of collecting information.  He answered questions with minimal language.

Every interview, whether it be a short screening, or a formal job interview, will leave the Interviewer with one of two impressions:

Either the subject is helping the flow of information, or he isn't.

McCollum was not helping.

In fact, he showed more concern in his language, for his career, than the victim, though she lay dying next to him.  Although it was almost dawn he said it happened "in the middle of the night."

Finally, the 911 operator had to ask, "Is this your wife?"

Somehow, McCollum was able to get through the entire 911 call without using the following three words:

1.  "my"
2.  "wife"
3.  "Maggie"

(he only used the pronoun "we" once, and this was about the address)

I have seen distancing language in domestic homicides before, but I am unable to recall (or find) one in which the victim's own name was not used.

There are many statements in which I say, "There are sensitivity indicators, and I am concerned.  Ask the following questions to learn if there is, with certainty, deception..."

This isn't one of them.

McCollum's statement is void of concern for his victim, showing concern for his career.
Although he called at 4:20AM, almost dawn, he said, "it happened in the middle of the night" as if he was story telling.

I think he was telling the truth, however.

It comes down to the meaning of the word "it" in his sentence.

"It" the shooting, had, as supposed, just happened before he called 911.  This is almost dawn, not the middle of the night.

What does this tell us?

For some, it may indicate a delay between the shooting and the time of the call, which may be true, though I do not think the delay is hours.

I think the word "it" in the sentence, "it happened in the middle of the night" refers to something, indeed, that happened and is front and center to this shooting.

I.  The Scenario
II.  The Pattern of Victims

I. The Scenario

The subject shows self importance in his call and used the word "unfortunate", not about the woman laying next to him near death, and without use of her body from the waist down, but about his own standing in his career as "chief."

He said "everybody was asleep."

The word "everybody" is not used when there are only two people, with the subjacent being one of them.  "We" were asleep would be appropriate.  "Everybody" caused the 911 operator to ask who else was there.

"It happened in the middle of the night"  tells us that something happened likely after midnight, as 2014 left us, and 2015 arrived.

When taken with the word "everybody", there is likely at least one other person involved in the scenario (not the shooting).

The subject (chief):

1.  uses distancing language, in the extreme, from his victim
2.  introduces a plurality of characters with "everybody"
3.  introduces a different time frame with "middle of the night."
4.  Uses controlling language including "Let's", which is "let us", conjoining himself with the "help" that is to arrive.

He was willing to join himself to them, but refused to even identify the victim by name or title.

He does not take ownership of two most important elements, via the missing word, "my":

1.  his wife
2.  his weapon

Police live and die by their weapons and become very possessive of them.  To avoid saying "my gun" or "my weapon" is to distance himself from it.

To be a certified weapons expert makes this distancing language even more acute.

What was his service weapon, as a certified expert, doing in his bed?  My guess is the element of threat was powerful, but eventually, the victim fell asleep.

II.  The Pattern of Domestic Violence Victims

I have worked for, and with domestic violence victims for more than 10 years. Analyzing their language, I find commonality among them:

a.  denial
b.  shame
c.  self blame
d.  self loathing
e.  return to the abuser to 'conquer' the abuse
f.  seek other abusers after this relationship has ended.
g.  most victims are controlled by the threat of violence more than violence itself.

Not all domestic violence abuse victims stay for a second round of abuse, but some do.
Not all domestic violence abuse victims seek out other abusers, but some do.

The education level of the victim does not appear to change these elements.

These elements are present in some, and for others, all of the elements may be present.

Maggie McCollum may have some of these elements.

It was reported that Maggie, while living in Florida, kept up her relationship with her ex husband, even while confiding in other professionals (she was a nurse) that she was a victim of domestic violence, (both physical and mental, according to the report) at the hands of her ex husband, William McCollum.

In another of his divorces, he was forced to act upon the title deed of his home for his ex, as he used household money in his relationship with Maggie, while married to another woman.

Maggie, as victim.

As a victim, if Maggie did, as I believe, say she "thinks" the shooting was an accident, the word "think" is a weak assertion.

"I locked my keys in the car" is a strong statement.
"I think I locked my keys in the car" has weakness, allowing for me, or my reader, to think otherwise.  If I am not certain, the weakness of "think" is appropriate.

It is when the word "think" enters in the unexpected that Statement Analysis is applied:

"I think I told the truth" and

"I think I didn't kill him" and so on.  When we expect authoritative or definitive wording, the use of the weakening "think" is unexpected. Imagine hearing this in a missing child case:

"I think I didn't kill my own child"?

"Did you cheat on your wife?"  If one said, "I don't think so..." instead of "", the door is now open for more discussion since the subject has uncertainty about his activities.

In a solid relationship, she would have said, "I was asleep.  It was an accident. "

That she allows for even the possibility of him doing this intentionally should be understood in context of:

1.  Reported history of D/V.  Convictions, notwithstanding, collateral interviews must be conducted.  With the victim's pattern in D/V to deny and even lie for the offending spouse, outside confirmation is needed along with Statement Analysis of the victim's statement.
2.  911 call in which is is incapable or unwilling  of using his wife's name, title, or possessive pronoun
3.  The call indicated deception, as well as  deliberate withholding of information and a lack of cooperation indicating a need to conceal information.
4.  It was New Year's, therefore alcohol should be explored
5.  He used language that suggests that more than he and his wife were in his mind when he said "everybody" was asleep.
6.  That he was a certified firearms expert and the gun was in his bed, without him telling the operator this most basic of information during the call.

I once had to investigate a law enforcement official for domestic violence. The subject had almost two decades of interview experience.   I received not only his statement (deception indicated) but his wife's statement for analysis prior to the interview.
His wife's statement denied the domestic violence and stated that she had slipped and fell.  Deception was indicated in her statement.
Both statements not only were deceptive, but his included the language of control, often found in the language of abusers, and her statement gave indication that this was not something new to her.

Collateral interviews were shut down by the family, and they asked all friends to remain silent and "support" them in this time of need.  I reminded some of them that by their silence, the only support they were giving was to put her life in danger, if they know he was abusive to her in the past.   Her current injury was serious enough to warrant this warning.

Eventually, I received an admission.

For the victim, Maggie McCollum, there is a new reason to be silent about the hours that led up to the shooting, and how the gun got into the bed:

She is paralyzed from the waist down.

What does this mean?

If the paralysis is irreversible, she will:

Never walk again.
Never enjoy sexual intimacy again.
Never be able to care for her own private moments again.

Be in need of support.

If she reports him:

Who will take care of her?

Who will pay for her wheelchair?
Who will pay for the house structural changes?
Who will bathe and clean her?
Who will feed her?
How will she work, again, as a nurse?

Yet, she may burn with rage and resentment unknown to most of us, towards him.

She may be filled with guilt, having told her friends in Florida, who urged her not to move back with him lest something more serious happen to her...and now?

It is best if investigators get a written statement from her asking for as much detail as she can give, prior to New Year's Eve.

Even if she attempts to protect him, the written statement's analysis will show the truth.

The paralysis is a significant change in this account.  Where once she may have angrily told police why he brought the gun into the bed, especially as she writhes in pain, now, being utterly helpless, she is faced with new choices, and new challenges, all due to the action of someone else.

Every word spoken in anger that fell from his lips will be playing, like a broken record, over and over in her mind.  The intimidation of having a firearm brought into the place of not only rest and recovery, but of tenderness and intimacy, causes a major change in mindset for the victim.

This man was supposed to be protector, lover, husband, and this bed was supposed to be peaceful, loving and refreshing.  It is a dual betrayal for the victim.

Whereas her denial, in behavioral analysis, was expected, the severity of her injuries must not be taken into account.

I do not envy those investigating this case.  They are likely to not only meet with resistance, but will also likely uncover a very dark underside to this case, especially in collateral interviews with his ex wives, and their families, along with Maggie's friends and co-workers.  It may be that Maggie confided in co-workers before she confided in family, but family will have strong opinions to offer.


Katprint said...

Your post touched upon an important aspect of domestic violence that is often ignored. The victims often face financial ruin if their abuser is put in jail/prison so they have to decide whether being homeless is better than being abused.

A couple of years ago, I watched a case involving a live-in boyfriend's violation of a restraining order. The boyfriend was the primary wage earner for the family and the girlfriend was a stay-at-home mother of several small children. The girlfriend was very concerned that if the judge put her boyfriend in jail, she would not be able to pay rent and her family would become homeless.

She told the judge that all she wanted was for the judge to make her boyfriend stop hitting her. The judge explained that he couldn't control what her boyfriend did; all the judge could do was to issue restraining orders and put her boyfriend in jail if he violated the restraining orders. It was very sad.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

Thank you for sharing, Kat.

Susan Murphy Milano was the only one with any name recognition that was blunt about the need for money.

It is so easy for us to say, "just go!" and not know what it is like for a woman with two children to stay at a homeless shelter.

I pick on attorneys a lot, but this needs to be said:

When it comes to donating money specifically for women who are escaping a violent man and NEED CASH to get out, attorneys, on a whole, pitched in when asked.

One of the most important elements of getting safe is having the cash to even travel, besides getting a safe apartment. Susan understood.

Maggie is in a terrible postion. I was upset when I first heard the news that she was paralyzed.

I hope there is an arrest soon.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely pray that Maggie has family and good friends so she has some options for her future.

However, I no longer sympathize with women who start popping out babies before they have any education or skills. These women are stacking the deck against themselves and leaving themselves vulnerable to domestic violence.

This is 2015, not 1960 and birth control methods cost next to nothing or are free. There is no excuse for setting yourself up to be totally dependent on someone because you are lazy, unambitious and unmotivated. These women/men seem to believe that having a baby they cannot afford is their RIGHT and everyone else must pay for it.

Women have taken a huge step backward with regard to independence and they do this willingly.

Tania Cadogan said...

Off topic

A 36-year-old woman convicted of a hate crime hoax in Nebraska hasn't shown up for jail time that she was required to serve because she didn't meet the conditions of her probation.

Charlie Rogers is a former University of Nebraska-Lincoln basketball player who was convicted of lying to police about being attacked by three masked men who carved anti-gay slurs into her skin.

She has said she's a lesbian.

A prosecutor told the Lincoln Journal Star Thursday that Rogers' probation officer didn't sign a document that would have waived the 90-day jail term ordered at her April 2013 sentencing.

Rogers was immediately required to serve seven days in jail, which she fulfilled.

The terms of her probation included 250 hours of community service and a requirement to get a full-time job.

Chief Deputy County Attorney Pat Condon said Rogers didn't show up as required at 8 a.m. Thursday at Lancaster County Jail because her probation documents had been finished.

A jailer said Rogers still wasn't in custody there on Friday.

Rogers' lawyer didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press.

The county's chief deputy probation officer has declined to talk about Rogers and her probation problems.

Prosecutors say Rogers reported in July 12, 2012, that the men who attacked her tried to set fire to her home before leaving.

A neighbor told police that Rogers crawled from her home naked, bleeding and screaming for help.

Rogers' story quickly fell apart, and prosecutors said she faked the attack because she thought it would inspire change in the treatment of gay people.

Prosecutors said Rogers purchased zip ties, a box cutter and white gloves shortly before the attack, and that the evidence didn't support what she said had happened.

Judge Gale Pokorny read a message on her Facebook page shortly before the alleged attack, in which she wrote, 'So maybe I am too idealistic, but I believe way deep inside me that we can make things better for everyone. I will be a catalyst. I will do what it takes. I will. Watch me.'

Rogers has maintained her innocence.

The reported attack provoked outrage and spread fear among Lincoln's gay community, and hundreds of people turned out for a rally outside the state Capitol.

At the time, Lincoln was debating whether to adopt a proposed 'fairness ordinance' that would have banned discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, and tensions were high among those on both sides of the issue.

Read more:

Charlie Rogers, hate-crime hoaxer, a no-show for jail sentence : Journal Star Breaking News

Read more:

Tania Cadogan said...

off topic

A Michigan woman who has been charged with murdering her newborn daughter gave birth again just weeks ago - and no can find her child.

Melissa Mitin of Okemos, Michigan is awaiting trial after an incident on December 26, 2013 in which she allegedly gave birth to a daughter in the bathroom of a family friend's home, and then immediately stuffed the crying child in a trash can.

Now, it has been revealed she gave again birth just three weeks while she was out on bail, and she will not tell authorities where they can find her newborn son - this as a dead baby was found in a nearby dumpster.

The Lansing State Journal reports that when Mitin was asked about where her son was by a family court judge earlier this week she said she 'could not recall.'

Ingham County Assistant Prosecutor Debra Rousseau responded to this by saying; 'If that is true then she has some major psychological issues.'

Prosecutors believe that Mitin became pregnant with this second child just three months after her daughter was found face-down in a wastebasket.

Mitin, 25, reportedly left the child there after the incident with her parents finding the baby girl.

According to her mother, Mitin said she was raped.

Both parents testified they knew nothing of the pregnancy and were against premarital sex for religious reasons and had never talked about the act with their daughter.

It seems that Mitin was receiving regular checkups for this new pregnancy until 35 weeks, and then stopped showing up.

Rousseasu claims that Mitin told the doctor's office 'she didn't return because she already had given birth,' at which point they notified Child Protective Services.

It is unknown who the father of this second baby is, and the father of the first was a student who attended Michigan State University with Mitin and is now living in another country.

Mitin had recently been living with her parents at their Okemos home while working on a master's degree in kinesiology at Michigan State University.

Now, Mitin has had her bail in the first murder case revoked, and is undergoing tests to see if she is even competent to stand trial.

'I have some serious concerns about her psychological well-being,' said her attorney, Dennis Reynolds.

On Thursday evening, a report came in of a dead baby boy found nearby at a recycling center in Roseville.

The baby had no visible signs of trauma and was believed to be just three days old when he was killed.

Detectives are investigating a possible link between Mitin and the child.

Read more:

Lemon said...

This is a very disturbing case.

Anonymous said...

This is disturbing because they can't do anything unless she presses charges. She won't if she thinks it was an accident.

Also, anon source could be a figment of some reporter's imagination.

I agree with statement analysis on this one. His statements represent his intentions. Her's represent a shock that anyone would do such a thing.

Had an 'old acquaintance' not been forgot?

Anonymous said...

IMO, her statements do NOT "represent a shock that anyone would do such a thing." This is ludicrous, when there are so many witnesses in their past relationship of his prior abuse of her. Her denial that he shot her deliberately screams pathetically of her fear of him, so much so that she feels she must lie to cover up for him and will continue too.

You must remember, Anon @10:22, she had been abused by him numerous times previously and likely had continued to be abused by him since she remarried him; obviously, when, in fact he DID deliberately shoot her and she knows he did. Statement Analysis PROVES his lies and will prove her fears as well.

Whether she was asleep or not at the time he shot her, (highly doubtful that she was) she KNOWS he shot her deliberately and knows he will get away with it; which is why she never filed charges against him previously during the many instances he had abused her. Isn't it a fact that she was always too afraid of him to file charges against him in the past for his physical violence of her? She knows she is at his mercy for the rest of her life with no way out.

You could be right however, that charges won't be filed unless she presses charges against him and we can already see that she won't. She's too afraid too.

Anonymous said...

I've thought about McCollums dispatch call to 911 at 4:02 a.m. on New Years' morning. There's no telling what time he actually shot Margaret and left her lying there, it could have been hours earlier; hoaxing up his story how the gun accidentally went off while they were sleeping, threatening and tormenting her, enjoying her pain and suffering with her begging for help while he waits for her to die. (Yes, there ARE people who are this evil).

The only thing is, initially she just wouldn't die quickly enough for him; time goes by and he's finally got her story straight knowing it would look better for him and more believable if he calls 911 claiming it was an accident; with her cooperation of course.

I can certainly see this as a possible scenario; finally she's slipping into unconsciousness so the crafty devil decides maybe he'd better not let her die after all, he might be accused of murder. No way to explain that, but he COULD explain an accident with her cooperation.

Too bad Peter can't interview him (AND her) and nail down what time he actually shot the poor woman.

USPSOIGsurvivor said...

I was married to a special agent of the OIG. A federal agent. He touched my person in a harmful manner three times in 10 years of marriage. The third time he tried to kill me by running over me with a truck. I appreciate the article written. Since I told the truth, the car insurance company only paid 5,000$ on medical instead of over 100,000$. I ought to be on disability but I have a job which I can barely make it through each day. I told the truth so he lost his six digit job and I divorced him. He was unemployed due to his attempted murder on me and he sued me for alimony in the divorce. I had to pay over 12,000$ in attorney fees, not to mention the 6,000$ lost from not being at work. The abuser was not required to pay any restitution. If I had lied and said it was an accident, I would have come out close to 400,000$ wealthier and been on disability and he would have his job and be paying me alimony. The system is set up to keep victims in abuse... the system is designed to keep the people with power (such as money) in control. The insurance companies not paying out due to a criminal act of domestic violence is simply archaic and enslaving. Simply wrong! So, by God's grace, I told the truth, I am broke, but he no longer is a federal agent with the ability to legally own a gun and with the ability to use administrative subpeona to stalk, follow, investigate whomever he pleased. ( There is no oversight on OIG use of administrative subpeona).