Sunday, August 2, 2015

Missing Persons and Natural Denial in Language

 by Peter Hyatt

We have reached a point in the disappearance of 35 year old, Crystal Rogers, mother of 5, where we will likely begin to see changes in the language of her loved ones.

DeOrre Kunz has been missing for more than 3 weeks now.  His father's rambling, self-censoring, pronoun shifting, and hyper sensitivity about his truck, weigh upon the public heavily, with the expected exasperation due to DeOrre's young age.

When a person goes missing, there is an instant shock and denial, as the brain refuses to accept something so traumatic.  When a parent, however, does not show shock and denial, a closer look is warranted.

The depth of the denial, that is, the refusal to accept facts, is seen in the language of those closest to the missing person, making journalist interviews of great value to society.

This denial is contingent on several factors:

a.  How close relations is the subject to the victim?
b.  What is the age of the victim?
c.  How much time has passed?

a.  The relationship to the victim, itself, is key to language.   When a child goes missing:

1.  The mother is the most resistant to acceptance and can remain in denial for many months, and in some cases, will accept nothing other than the child's remains to "move" her language.  This is why a mother's use of past tense, early on, is such a strong indicator of knowledge of the missing child's death.  Maternal instincts are powerful, as referenced in antiquity, nature, and in the news stories where a mother will risk her own life to protect her children.

When Susan Smith referenced her missing children in the past tense, "My children needed me", it was a strong signal that they were dead and she had knowledge of their death.

Other mother's include Casey Anthony, "Caylee loved the park.  Loves the park."

On Billie Jean Dunn's very first appearance on the Nancy Grace Show, she said, "Hailey wasn't allowed to just..." as she not only referenced her in the past tense, one indicator of guilt, but also portrayed herself as a responsible parent, another linguistic signal that told us that Dunn had a need to portray herself in a positive light.   She went on to mention her toothache, something most mothers would not bother about, signaling that drugs were involved in the death of 13 year old Hailey.  This is an example of "leakage" as something like a toothache would likely not find itself in the interview on national television while searching for a daughter of biological mother.  Therefore, I concluded that it was "leakage" and likely related to narcotics.

Narcotics, we learned, were a major factor in the death, but especially in the stressful cover up of the crime.

Deborah Bradley, mother of Baby Lisa, told us early on that Lisa would not be found alive.

2.  The father is next up, with samples from Baby Sabrina, the McCanns, and Justin DiPietro, father of Baby Ayla, who gave us linguistic signals that Ayla, too, was dead, along with possible leakage that she was disposed of in water.
"Emotionally incapable" of calling out to Baby Ayla 

                                         "Contrary to rumors floating around out there..."

Dumping remains in water will give the guilty nightmares of the body floating to the surface for discovery.  It is not surprising, therefore, that such language would 'leak' its way into unrelated sentences.  It is a difficult thing to discern, but even more difficult to deny when it does show itself.  

3.   Siblings

Siblings struggle but take their cues from their parents.  In the case of Crystal Rogers, we now learn that Brooks Houck is no longer allowing his child to visit his siblings; something that the suffering children (yearning for their mother) will only have compound issues as the youngster's presence could have brought some relief with 'normalcy' even for a few hours, restored.

4.  Cousins, Aunts Uncles are next up, and this is also dependent upon how close they were to the missing person.

5.  Grandparents.

Grandparents who are young and heavily involved in a missing child's life prior to the disappearance, will have strong denial.  Baby Ayla's paternal grandmother, Phoebe DiPietro, almost immediately lied about her son's "normal" home, life and night Ayla went missing, signaling that at that time, she either knew (with her son claiming accident), or suspected (based upon her son's history) that Ayla was not coming home.  She also used distancing language, immediately, not as a 'defense', but because there was no commitment to her language, particularly about attempting to sound "worried" that her house was being "cased" (faux kidnapping) or hope, that the Sheriff would be calling her.

The older the grandparents, the less resistance they possess which is likely due to having seen much tragedy in life, they have less 'resolve' or "fight" in them, due to declining hormones.

b.  The age of the victim also relates to the equation especially when one goes missing who is incapable of self care, such as a baby.  This means a quick panic, not only in those close to the child, but even found within public comments.  The child who goes missing quickly has an emotional impact upon the public, who feel strong empathy with the missing child, and can become very impatient with parents who are less than forthcoming.

c.  The length of time will wear down all resistance, with the order above reversed, as 'reality' and despair sets in.  This is where we will hear past tense references in innocent loved ones.

I read recently that "speaking of a missing person in the present tense is a sign of innocence."

It is not.

This mistake came from a criminal profiler/journalist who likely had skimmed some analysis and 'landed' a big story.

Not so.

A guilty subject will do his or her best to never drift from present tense language, which is why the Free Editing Process is so valuable: a well trained journalist will bring the subject, using a specific skill set, into the FEP by not accepting short answers.

The best way to not accept short answers is to ask vague and encompassing questions, such as the open ended "What happened?",  followed by:

"Tell me more!" when the answer is deliberately short.

"I'm listening."

"Okay, but what happened next?"

If the subject remains unwilling, the journalist must allow silence to make the subject uncomfortable, and with the limited time involved, can, and should reach the 'challenge' point should the subject be consistently brief with:

"Is this all you can tell us?" followed by:

"You seem to be unwilling to give us detail; why is this?" knowing that the subject is close to shutting down and the camera is running.

Yes, it may kill any opportunity for a follow up interview, but journalists will be pleasantly surprised to learn:  the guilty subject would rather talk to you, to learn what you know, than to a 'softball' questioner who asks questions loaded with lengthy empathetic statements such as, "You must be going through a lot.  You've done everything a parent can do.  You have cooperated with police, and have searched tirelessly.  Are you sleeping at night?"

It is frustrating for those who seek information to listen to a journalist seek "front and center" in an interview, but it is common.

Brooks Houck has not been truthful about the disappearance of Crystal Rogers and by not allowing visitation, he is, in effect, silencing himself from potential leakage to Crystal's family.  It is a defensive posture that he maintains while they become more and more emboldened to challenge him publicly, as their frustration grows.

A polygraph constructed solely upon his own words would be failed, not "inconclusive."

Expect Crstyal's family to become more and more 'accepting' in language, as a month has gone by, and this is compounded by Houck's defensive posturing and sensitive language from his Nancy Grace interview weigh, night after night, upon their minds, robbing them of sleep, haunting them throughout the night, and causing them to awaken with anger that masquerades their darkest fears.

It has been a month for Crystal's family to process this information.

For DeOrre, it has been well beyond any survival deadline, as he is incapable of self care and self protection.  The investigators have recently downplayed "kidnapping" as a possibility, and will likely move back towards the father with more serious questioning.

The polygraph must be conducted using the father's personal, subjective, internal dictionary and nothing else.

The polygraph, when conducted in this way, is fool-proof.  Deception interrupts the speed of transmission in language, and it is the recall of this deception that is measured by the polygraph's instruments; the internal stress, even of sociopaths, who do not like being caught, nor seen as a liar.


kimisan03 said...

Since I started reading this blog, I've applied the principles I've learned to my elementary classroom and have gotten much better at detecting deception from my students. Even the little knowledge of statement analysis I possess has led to more confessions, less trips to the principal's office, and a smoother classroom environment. Thanks, Peter!

trustmeigetit said...

It really is the greatest thing. I use it for screening and interviewing.. The biggest thing is when I ask an applicant to tell me about their experience with something and they start their response with "we..". Usually means they are trying to claim experience they don't personally have.

I love SA

Anonymous said...

Great analysis once again, Mr. Hyatt. Thank you!

Statement Analysis Blog said...

Thank you for the kind comments.

Some things to consider:

After learning basics, begin, ever so carefully, to note personality types. You do not have to be a psychologist as teachers (kimsian03) are often 'back up mothers' and their own classification can be accurately named later. Note the language and personality matches OR note what the words reveal about the personality. Start with the most basic:

order = priority

repetition enforces the importance found in the order (priority).

Trust: The single best "question" to pose is one in which the applicant tells you about himself or herself personally.

There is, for example, a huge difference in priorities from someone who is hard working, and someone who is used to having his or her bills paid by another.

Both teacher and HR: be so very careful! Go easy on conclusions and let time and experience guide you.

Anonymous: thank you. It seems these very basic articles are more popular than I realize as they are probably more helpful than I credit them.

Anonymous said...

When I see Baby Ayla's photo reaching her precious little hand out from her high chair with her sweet sweet angel smile, I just want to take her out of that chair, hold her and walk out the door with her. I would have loved this little girl and would have loved to have her for my own. Yes, I am too old to be raising another baby but I sure would have tried, and could have. I've done it before and I could do it again and wasn't young then either.

I'm sure there are many like me who would have gladly taken this precious baby, no questions asked; and other babies and toddlers too who are missing. Tragically and violently raped and murdered Haley Dunn comes to my mind frequently. She was so smart, intelligent, beautiful, talented, innocent, pleading for help. She reminded me so much of myself at her age; sadly she was never allowed the chance to make a life and a future for herself, which I know she could have done all by herself.

Tragic and sexually abused Haleigh Cummings was another one. There are so many of us who would want these children. Why can't these POS parents and others who kill them just let someone else take them? We'd gladly raise AND support them, and ask for nothing. It makes me sad every time we lose another one that no one knew was in distress and trying to survive in tragic circumstances until it was too late.

Brooke said...

Fwiw I like Greg Hartley's "Most Dangerous Business Book" for personality pinpointing.

Amanda said...

Peter Hyatt
Do you think these statements are consistent in their natural denial? Is there any acceptance in the language of the recent statement? Would you expect to see denial knowing as you said it had been well beyond any survival deadline?

We'll continue to look until he's found no matter how long it takes"-Jessica Mitchel said in initial interview.

"We continue to hope and pray that our 'lil man' will be found soon," Jessica Mitchell and DeOrr Kunz Sr., DeOrr's parents, said in a short written statement to yesterday.

John Mc Gowan said...
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John Mc Gowan said...
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John Mc Gowan said...
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lynda said...

Wonderful article Peter as always. I'm starting to feel as though I should be carrying around a tape recorder with me so I can record all my interactions. I'm definitely going to do it when dealing with the ex husband lol.

lynda said...

I wouldn't be surprised to hear from Deorr and Brooks families at this point something along the lines of..while we still have hope she is alive, we just want to bring her home. Particularly in the 2 year old, it has been over 3 weeks. He is no longer alive if he even was when they said they last saw him. What caught my eye in their statements was the fact that they both refer to TIME. Jessica states, no matter how long it takes. Daddy states...hope he is found SOON. Is that indicative of anything?

Anonymous said...

Bikers against child abuse? Lol! Just hang out at thelocal Ace Hardware-they'llbe there.

Bet duringalltheconfusion,yadon'trememer...was it a white Jeepwith a black top or a white Jeep with a dark green ya punk?

Anonymous said...

REally, though. The last time Iwas pulled over and searched, the coponlyleft three items ofall thejunk in theback on the mat...a lock he'd illeagllytaken fron theconsole, a rustybreak-way knife that had been back there since thelastmilliuem, and soe new rope I was using to pack with.

Hemust have thoughtI had one ofhisminionsdecapitated in a storage bldg somewhere with his overgrown bearded head in a superlarge jar of formaldihide

Anonymous said...

Mt. Home is quilt capital. Not Texas ready22

web lol said...


Anonymous said...

There is a missing person in Louisville, KY who has been missing 2 months.
He was an Air Force veteran, and has flown for UPS for 13 years.

The wife prepared statement to share with a television station who did the above story.

Her statement as reported:
"My son and I have been traumatized by this event. I believe my time is best spent focusing on the continued hope for my husband's safe return and being devoted to the well being of our 7-year old son. I have confidence the LMPD is doing its best to find my husband," Valerie Kimsey said in a statement to WLKY, regarding her husband's disappearance.

"Some of the information that has been posted on the web is inaccurate and distressing, and this has added to my sadness and emotional exhaustion. I appreciate all the efforts of the community, especially my parents, my sister and her family, my friends, my neighbors, UPS, The Independent Pilot's Association, and my parish and parish priest," she said.

Understanding only a few basic principles of statement analysis, I have concerns with the statement. Can anyone else give their thoughts/impressions/input?

foodnerd said...

Missing UPS pilot

To most recent of 3 million Anonymouses who don't know they can choose a much less confusing identifying name without registering or entering a junk e-mail address:

I'm as noob as are you,if not even less experienced, but her quote here reads as if she has no intention of lifting a finger or doing anything besides sitting around on her azz "hoping," and feels that's the best way to bring him home. Even more concerning, if a prepared statement is all she contributed to an article calling attention to the search for her missing husband, she's actively suppressing the information flow.

Next, she did nothing to refute the "inaccurate information" or even specify which facts she disputes, just about how it affected her. She can't even use the excuse about an ongoing investigation because we're looking for a presumed victim, not a suspect; every tiny shred could potentially help a savvy detective.
(It could also help a savvy statement analyst, which might be why she prefers hoping to helping.)

The word event is very minimizing when it could be a fatal plane crash or something worse. It also reads almost past tense, like the worst is already over.

Finally, her statement reads like a lot of all about her, as if she is the primary victim, not her missing husband. Listing every helping element as hers could be more of that self-absorption, or speaking as if she knows he is gone: my friends, my neighbors, my priest and parish. She doesn't mention anyone on his side of the family but I don't know if he has any in the area.

Counting most of the my references (giving benefit of doubt on leading off with "my" son), she refers to herself 13 times and never once even mentions her husband's name. If I wanted to find a missing loved one I would use his or name every single sentence, saturating every news piece with it so it hopefully sticks in someone's mind when they hear something that might help bring him home.

OK, your turn! :^D Or at least whether you agree with any of this?

Calvin said...

foodnerd said...

Missing UPS pilot

Peter, or any top-level SA pros still out there? I just came across another article about this one. The detective explained that this man is not a typical voluntary disappearance; so far they've found nothing whatsoever about secret relationships business or sexual, or mounting debt, or any of the myriad reasons people typically want out of their present identities.

But referring to a pilot of probably 20-plus years including Air Force service, he used the phrase "very well-grounded."

Would any of you file that away in the teeniest, farthest, "NO WAY!!... ... buuuuuuuut??" corners of your minds if you were analyzing this, or would it even register as anything more than a split-second noticing the unfortunate word choice and maybe some gallows humor later with your colleagues?

Thanks for any insight; even if Random Anonymous hasn't yet tracked his or her way back now they've got me interested in this one for a statement analysis profile from the beginning steps,instead of after the fact!

web lol said...

kul post

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