Friday, January 16, 2015
Domestic Violence: Statement and Behavioral Analysis
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:
(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:
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.