Saturday, October 14, 2017

Reviewing Denials: Stephen Michael Cook Analysis Revisited

Stephen Michael Cooke Jr. Analyzed 

This analysis was original published in October 2015.
This was a news program which labeled the story "Indiscretion."

The subject has been convicted of the murder. 


The story of Heidi Bernadzikowski, a 24-year old insurance company receptionist who was found murdered in her living room. Her boyfriend, whom police suspected all along, was finally brought to justice over a decade later. Stephen Michael Cooke, Jr., is currently serving time in prison for her death. The hit men that he hired, Alexander C. Bennett and Grant A. Lewis, were also convicted.

Law enforcement officials now know that Stephen Michael Cooke, Jr, hired two hit men to kill his girlfriend. Investigators say the motive was a $700,000 insurance payout in death benefits. Heidi was found dead in the front room of her home with her throat cut. The number “1” was scrawled in lipstick just above her body. Heidi’s boyfriend, Stephen Cooke, found her after arriving home at about 9 p.m., that night.
Cooke is the one who made the frantic call to 911, where he told dispatchers that he found his girlfriend murdered. The Baltimore Sun reported back in 2000 that an elderly neighbor saw Heidi Bernadzikowski when she arrived home from work hours earlier. According to the neighbor, identified as Reggie Evelyn, about 30 minutes after Heidi entered her home, he heard the sound of several people running around inside her house, which was located in the 2200 block of Codd Avenue in Dundalk, an unincorporated part of Baltimore, Maryland.
“I definitely heard some kind of noise. I assumed it was [neighborhood] children. I heard a noise like children running around inside, but I knew she didn’t have any children.”

An autopsy report later concluded that the young woman had been strangled to death. The community was in shock as they learned the details of her murder. People who knew Heidi say that she had a bubbly personality who was focused on making her life better. Despite her past problems, at 24, she had found a career that she loved, and a boyfriend whom she loved and trusted. Sadly, she had no way of knowing that he man that she planned to marry would be the same man who would orchestrate her killing — and all for money.

The police tried desperately to find something that would connect Stephen Cooke, Jr., to the case. But the investigation eventually went cold, until 2012, when DNA connected Alexander Charles Bennett to the case. At the time, the public didn’t know that Bennett was connected to Stephen Cooke. After tying up all the loose ends of the crime investigation, police moved in and arrested Stephen Cooke in 2012, along with Grant Lewis. Heidi’s mother, who was still living in 2014, stated that she was glad that they finally got justice in the case, and in their hearts they always knew that Stephen Cooke was behind it. Her parents took Cooke to court over the insurance money, just a few years after her death. Prosecutors say that Alexander Bennett was the one who killed Heidi in her home that day.


In part 6 of the episode "indiscretion" Heidi Bernadzikowski's boyfriend Stephen Michael Cooke, Jr takes the stand about his possible involvement in her death.

Defense Atty. LeCompte:

"Now, Steve, you've heard through testimony that you arranged for Hiedi's murder via the internet. Did you do that?.

This is a "yes or no" question, which is a low stress question.  The expectation is that he will say "no" and nothing more needing to be said. 
Why is this?
Because we presuppose that the subject will both tell us the truth and that he did not do it. 

Cooke: Not at all. Not at all. I didn't--I didn't have anything to do at all to do with Hieidi's murder.

In his answer, we view the question: "did you do that?" follows "...that you arranged for Hiedi's murder."
The best answer for him to give is "no" by itself. 
"Yes or No" questions are less stressful for deceptive people as one may concentrate on anything while saying "no"; and, in their own minds, they could be saying "no" to just about anything they wish to deny.  The reduced stress is specifically related to the core of information:  he does not have to use words from experiential memory to say the word "no."

Therefore, we note every syllable of every word that follows the answer, "no" in the response. 
Here, however, we note that he does not use the word "no" as a response.
"Not at all" is to encompass more information, using the word "all."  This is initially noted, yet we find that "not at all" is repeated.  Anything that is repeated is to be considered 'sensitive' to the subject, elevating its importance.  
He then continues to speak:

"I didn't--I didn't have anything to do at all to do with Hieidi's murder."

We find a 'self-censor' or a 'halt' in language with, "I didn't..." which is then repeated. Is he normally one who stutters? We continue by noted that he did not say, "I didn't have anything to do with Heidi's murder" but adds in the words "at all", which are not necessary.
What should an analyst think of "I didn't have anything to do with Heidi's murder" on its own?
1. We must note that this is not what he said. He first stopped this statement.
2. He added in the unnecessary words "at all"
3. This is not an "open statement" in the sense that context is key: it is in response to a direct question.
Let's say that he did not halt on the pronoun "I" and he made this statement in the initial interview, freely, and early in the interview. This context would strengthen it.
The process by which we freely choose our own words is where lie detection is successful: when one is choosing his own words, his own syntax, his own order, and so on. Even coming close to parroting from a question reduces reliability.

Reduced reliability does not mean "deception indicated" but that the reliability of the statement is in question, and more analysis is needed.
One may not give a reliable denial initially, but when getting the subject to go off in volume of words of his own choosing, he may.

Then we have this.

Defense Atty. LeCompte:

Why are you testifying?.

This is a very good question. The only word that is parroted is "testifying", which is appropriately so. This is the perfect opportunity for th"

We began our analysis with an unreliable denial, therefore, It is the time to declare the truth:
Cooke: Why are you testifying?

This is a great time for him to say "Because I didn't do it." and "I told the truth." 

I'm testifying because I want my family and friends, and I want Hiedi's family and friends too--to know the truth. And for 15 years, they haven't heard the truth. For 15 years, I''ve been blamed for some I didn't do. I didn't kill Heidi.

I believe him.

The subject gave a reliable denial when he freely said, "I didn't kill Heidi."
This is very likely (statistically) to be true. If he were to add to this and state, "I am telling the truth" it would be above 99% reliable.
So, what is the problem?

He was not accused of killing Heidi; he was accused of arranging for her murder.
Had I been falsely accused of hiring someone to kill her, I would have simply said,
"I'm testifying because I did not hire Bennet to kill Heidi."

The subject is unreliable with signals of deception. The psychological wall of truth is not present, so he calls upon additional words and explanations to buttress that which should need no assistance.

Training: Hyatt Analysis Services


Tania Cadogan said...

Excellent analysis.
It is the little things that catch them out and reveal the truth.
Denial of a crime he didn't physically commit yet no denial of the crime he did commit.

Anonymous said...

Anyone keeping up with Sherin Matthews? Her adoptive father said in a police affidavit that he looked for her for 15 minutes and proceeded to do a load of laundry. Does that strike anyone else as much as it does me?

Anonymous said...

Here's a doozy.

"The stupidity and the evil of the Haqqani networks, kidnapping of a pilgrim and his heavily pregnant wife engaged in helping ordinary villagers in Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan was eclipsed only by the stupidity and evil of authorizing the murder of my infant daughter, Martyr Boyle."

"As retaliation of the repeated refusal to accept an offer that the criminal miscreants of the Haqqani had made to me. And the stupidity and evil of the subsequent rape of my wife, not as the lone action of one guard, but assisted by the captain of the guards and the commandant."

"Obviously it would be of incredible importance to my family that we are able to build a secure sanctuary for our 3 surviving children to call a home, to focus on edification, and to try to regain of the childhood that they had lost."

"God has given me and my family unparalleled resilience and determination, and to allow that to stagnate, to pursue personal pleasure or comfort while there is still deliberate and organized injustice in the world would be a betrayal of all I believe, and tantamount to sacrilege."

Bobcat said...

OT vent: Sometimes SA awareness is a real bummer. I was reading a Gardasil-is-horrible-and-killed-my-daughter article that was shared on Facebook, and I realized the parents are likely deceptive about how their daughter died. Jessica Ericzon died at age 17. Mom Lisa Ericzon and "boyfriend" Tim Hall may be behind the greatest Gardasil hoax (their words) of all time.

Hey Jude said...

OT-Joshua Boyle - I agree, what a doozy. Weird statement. The videos are interesting, too. he's probably waiting for the highest bidder for a fuller interview now he is back home - should be interesting. I bet his wife still feels like a hostage, poor woman. There is a full transcript of his statement at this link.

Hey Jude said...

OT - Bobcat - she said what the medical examiner had said to her just the next day. I wonder if toxicology tests were done - they take weeks, and may have shown something different as cause of sudden death. A massive overdose can cause a sudden death. Strange though, if that had been so, as surely that would have been made known by now. I agree there are lots of things in her statements which raise questions, which I recognise from reading here.

Tania Cadogan said...

The statements coming out from Boyle are sending red flags up. Who takes their pregnant wife to a known high risk area?
He has links to a know terrorist which is why he was apparantly reluctant to go to the states for fear of ending up in gitmo. If he is innocent of any wrongdoing then he had nothing to fear.
If they were being held hostage, how did they manage to have children?
How do we know one of their children was murdered?
stupidity and the evil of...
Order is important, why is stupidity more important than evil to him?

Something is off here.

Tania Cadogan said...

The statements coming out from Boyle are sending red flags up. Who takes their pregnant wife to a known high risk area?
He has links to a know terrorist which is why he was apparantly reluctant to go to the states for fear of ending up in gitmo. If he is innocent of any wrongdoing then he had nothing to fear.
If they were being held hostage, how did they manage to have children?
How do we know one of their children was murdered?
stupidity and the evil of...
Order is important, why is stupidity more important than evil to him?

Something is off here.

Lilstr said...

OT on the word "everything"

I called a person that could have leaked some information to the press, or knew who could have.

Her response by phone was:

"I am not made aware of everything"
"They do not consult me on everything" (with no mention on who "they" could be)

Am I correct in flagging the word "everything" as sensitive?

I asked if she had knowledge of information X being leaked.
She did not deny it, she answered that she is not made aware of "everything", which is probably accurate.

Thank you for your thoughts.

Hey Jude said...

Tania, one report stated that Joshua Boyle's wife was forced to have an abortion by the kidnappers. It appears the family was imprisoned together in a cell or room. He said they concealed the second pregnancy, and he delivered the baby by flashlight at night, and that the captors responded kindly when they saw the baby, and gave them the baby supplies they needed.

Anonymous said...

Tania, They may have had children in captivity from having sex & having no condoms or having the male unable to figure out withdrawal method might be a real good idea to prevent creating a family in captivity. Men are not the brightest creatures (rolls eyes). If I were her I would not have slept w him in captovity if he refused to use withdrawal method--so very I missing something as to why this wasnt done?!

Anonymous said...

Was he so selfish he couldnt have sacrificed a single instant of his pleasure? Im not surprised. Men can be such horrible creatures. God bless those poor children. She should file for divorce and find a better guy.

Anonymous said...

Wow I just listened to his statement--he seems very off & he has a smile of duping delight. The grandfather seems super weird. He says that Josh woke up from a nap with a very dry mouth & said to his brother "Can you bring me some water? A bucket in the middle of the room would be best." And the grandfather sniffles and said they told him "Josh we have BOTTLES of water here." SUCH BULL. I didnt know captives could request water for their post-nap dry mouth. In a bucket or a bottle. Did his captors ask him if he wanted a lemon slice in it too?