Several years ago in a 2 day police seminar, day 2 began with a twist. A cold case detective, as a matter of routine, was given a closed murder case for review. The investigation was closed with the person of interest cooperative and passed his polygraph. The experienced homicide investigators were satisfied.
Something bothered the cold case detective enough to ask if I would analyze the 911 call. I still had much course content to cover on day 2 and said I'd analyze it from home later in the week and send him a report. The hosting captain, well trained at the FBI's National Academy, thought otherwise, and wanted it done, live, at the training seminar. I objected because the short call would likely take up the entire day as well as the size of the class might impede progress. As I was pressing my arguments on why it was better to not do this 911 call, a rather high pitched, somewhat squeaky voice arose and said, "Yeah, do it now!"
I gave my wife Heather a look that only husbands and wives who communicate without words would understand. She returned my look with a smile. She was breaming with confidence of which I always thought, was in the science and in my ability to employ it . I only recently learned...she had read the first words the caller used and "knew" he had done it. I had 7 hours of material well prepared but had to yield to the hosting captain and...to my wife.
|on the flight home...|
The transcript was put on the overhead and off we went.
The case file was kept from us all. This is to avoid undue influence upon the analysis. Although it adds to the drama of conclusions, this is not the intention.
It took all day.
At the conclusion I said that the caller:
A. was the murderer, and that
B. his motive was found in one single word, consisting of 2 letters: "my" used instead of the article "the", which suggested greed. Among the detectives in training, it was 100% consensus; no disagreement.
Our words reveal 4 basic elements:
1. Our experiences
2. Our background
3. Our priority
4. Our personality
This short call revealed aspects of all four elements with some in abundance. I said that in spite of any lack of convictions, collateral interviews would confirm his motive (greed), his experiences (including D/V), his background (which was known and confirmed by the investigator) and his personality (narcissistic sociopathic) which would be necessary for the interview.
When asked how certain I was in the conclusion, I said,
"I stake my career on it."
Why did I go that far for one single case?
I went into the analysis with the presupposition that the caller did not do it, and for me to change my mind, he would have to thoroughly talk me out of my position.
This is how deception detection works. It was my voice, but it was the entire team's conclusion.
He caused our certainty; he caused my certainty.
He thoroughly talked me and the team into this position.
The cold case detective's own facial expressions had told me, as we went along, how accurate our analysis was.
Hundreds of years of collective experience was in the room, coming together to dissect the call, and put it back together again.
They did excellent work.
In a closed case, the cold case detective is under unusual pressure. If he is successful in solving a 'solved' case, he must, by necessity, oppose his own team members of whom he likely has very strong feelings of fraternal bonding. Should the case go to trial, the original investigators may end up testifying against his work.
If no new evidence is uncovered, the new finding indicts the prior work of his brethren.
Yet there is the call for justice that servants are sworn to answer.
Statement Analysis solved the case but Statement Analysis is not admissible in court as a specialized science, similar to the polygraph. The difference, however, is that the analysis does not simply show guilt or innocence, but entire content, including precisely how an interview must be conducted. The analysis, we learned later, matched the forensic evidence. The analysis' revealed motive also matched the evidence, as well as the background and experiences.
The Statement Analysis report allowed for the case to be reopened, and the suspect re-interviewed, according to the analysis. The detective combined decades of experience with a new, profound love of his training in Statement Analysis. He went into the interview thoroughly prepared with written questions, and asked appropriate follow up questions using the suspect's own language. There would be no interpretation; anything not understood, the subject, himself, would clarify.
Following the interview, the suspect was arrested.
A plea bargain was expected for reasons not discussed here, which seemed to override the narcissist personality of the subject.
No plea was entered and the case went to trial and a long waiting period.
The subject, according to his profile, would likely battle his defense attorney about taking the stand.
The suspect prevailed.
Closing arguments were made and the case went to the jury.
While the jury was out, the investigator's own work was now on the line.
A not-guilty verdict would be, for him, not only unjust for the victims, and endangering for other citizens, but would then mean enduring the taunts of "junk science", "years wasted", "resources wasted" and a pummeled reputation with a rift now made worse, between brothers. His reputation would be, until he retires, shot.
The jury was attentive to detail and in short order, returned the Guilty Verdict.
The cold case investigator did not gloat in victory, but felt relief. Justice had been found for the victims, and safety for local citizens. He felt for the original investigators, too, as his brothers.
Statement Analysis told him the truth, and in the interview, it, again, told him the truth, but the analysis was not done. The prosecutor skillfully used analysis on the fly, going through the transcripts, utilizing only the subject's words. Just as the subject did for me, for the investigator, and for the prosecutor, the subject's own words spoke the truth to the jury.
The training that took place several years ago has not ceased. While this investigator is now enrolled in the Advanced Course, once per month he attends the live training in which cases from around the country are analyzed successfully. Success means, for the most part, confession, though it oftentimes ends in a guilty plea of some form.
Patrol officers who take training inevitably end up taking statements paving the way for their own career path of success.
Well experienced investigators and detectives only have their skills greatly sharpened in training, while polygraph examiners can become "can't miss"; as they use the subject's language and learn to skillfully avoid introducing language to the subject, which can result in faulty findings.
To be given an investigation and knowing, before the investigation even commences, who did it, why he did it, how he did it, and when he did it, is to fill the investigator with resolve. The confidence spills over into everything he or she does.
Yet, the work just begins because "knowing" is not enough; one must prove, as well.
Fortunately for such investigators (and for society), being confronted with one's own words of deception has a powerful impact upon guilty subjects, which leads to admissions.
Training means beginning the success.
This is because, once enrolled, your work is constantly being checked by other professionals, as is each homework assignment. While in training, should a case be assigned you, you may enter the case with confidence knowing not only deception, but truth.
Whether one attends a seminar, or enrolls in the course at home (which allows for more time and constant repetition), the new analyst is given 12 months of guidance, included in the tuition cost.
One does not stake a career on a facial expression, or a twitch of the leg or hand gesture. This may sound exciting, and its appeal to circumvent hard work is always a lure, but its not for professionals who cannot allow justice to be perverted, or their own reputations to be destroyed.
Question: Should you expect this type of success from training?
Routinely we submit our work one to another for heavy scrutiny. Over time, errors are recognized, traced, and corrected. Yet, even at the point of avoiding all error, content and depth continues its increase.
Congratulations to a consummate professional who's hard work and refusal to take the easy path has meant justice for the family of the murder victims and for society.