A mother is accused of rubbing heroin on her daughter's gums, leading to the baby's death. The news report, unusually, included more direct quotes.
Statement Analysis is the study of words for the purpose of discerning deception from truth. Training is done for law enforcement, military intelligence, business, journalism, social sciences and private citizens.
Our expectation is innocence. Therefore, we expect the accused to say, "I did not put heroin (laced with fentanyl) on my daughter's gums."
This would be a very strong denial:
1. She uses the pronoun "I" meaning she is psychologically connected to the denial
2. She uses the past tense verb, "did not" ("didn't")
3. She answers the allegation specifically.
This would be a "Reliable Denial", with a 90% likeliness of being accurate. Should she then be challenged as to why she should be believed and looking upon her denial saying,
"Because I told the truth", it would be 99% reliable.
Let's examine her statements:
1. The Good Mother
"Jordynn loved me more than she loved anybody in the world,"
Kimberly Nelligan's daughter Jordynn, 1, passed away in October 2018 from acute fentanyl intoxication, according to the state medical examiner's office.
Here, the mother has the need to be portrayed as a good mother; one whom the infant "loved" more than anyone "in the world."
We have the "Good Mother" principle where we consider the need to persuade that one is a good mother; often indicative to the contrary. When asserted under criminal context, an investigator should immediately consider that the subject has been accused of child abuse or neglect, or may have been investigated by child protective services.
For an example of the "Good Mother" principle, see the murder of Hailey Dunn.
According to court documents, the medical examiner further found Jordynn's death was caused by the toddler somehow ingesting the lethal drug.
Jordynn's father, Shane Smith, told investigators Nelligan routinely rubbed heroin residue on their daughter's gums to help the toddler sleep.
She issued her first denial:
"I never rubbed anything, any type of heroin, fentanyl, whatever, on my daughter's gums," Nelligan said.
The word "never" avoids a specific time frame. The victim died allegedly after the last overdose of the opioids. A mother stands accused of this specific act and her daughter's death should be a specific memorial event, with attendant hormonal consequence, where the denial should be aimed at.
"Never" is not reliable.
This could be due to the reporter's question -- if the reporter accused her of doing it repeatedly, "never" may be expected.
Thus far, we have the need to be seen as a "good mother", and an unreliable denial.
Child protective workers and law enforcement officials know that sedating a child for sleep is more common than the public realizes.
This is the conclusion of the analysis of the death of Madeleine McCann.
News of the toddler's death and Smith's testimony to police, coming out in those court documents, quickly led to public outrage on social media.
"I don't blame anybody for the way they feel, not at all. I don't think any of you are wrong for how you feel. I just think you're wrong to think that I actually did that because I didn't do that to my little girl. I did not do that to her. I can't. I wish I could look at you all in your face and tell you I know exactly what happened to her."
The subject does not blame anybody for the way they feel about her--
This is the "Ingratiation Factor" -- it is where she allows for those angry at her to be angry at her. The allegation is that she killed her daughter. There is no "agreement" or peace between innocence of such an accusation and acceptance (anger). The "psychological wall of truth" should be present in the language.
Did you notice that she only "thinks" they are wrong?
This is a weak assertion. When we "think" something, it allows for others to "think" differently.
"I locked my keys in the car" is very strong.
"I think I locked my keys in the car" is a weaker statement.
We then judge the quality of the weakness.
"I think I locked my keys in the car" is appropriately weak if the subject lacks certainty.
Putting drugs on your daughter's gums is not something you might assert with appropriate weakness.
If she did not put drugs on her daughter's gums, there is no allowance for anger, nor for difference of opinion with "think."
We continue with this statement:
I just think you're wrong to think that I actually did that because I didn't do that to my little girl. I did not do that to her. I can't. I wish I could look at you all in your face and tell you I know exactly what happened to her."
a. actually is a dependent word. It means she is comparing rubbing drugs on her daughter's gums with something else.
b. I didn't do that to my little girl.
Recall that our Reliable Denial must answer the accusation. This avoids it.
c. I did not do that to her. This continues to avoid the accusation. This is a form of psychological distancing from the victim, of whom she claimed, as a 1 year old, loved her more than anybody in the world.
Please note that "Ingratiation Factor" is also noted as a possible dominant personalty trait common to drug abusers;
Surviving on their wits, manipulative personalities prefer in person, face to face, in order to persuade.
Note her next words: I wish I could look at you all in your face and tell you I know exactly what happened to her."
Did you also notice the short sentence, "I can't"?
This is called the "Gnostic Split" where one considers herself a good person "in my heart", which is often an indicator of a refusal to accept responsibility for one's actions.
It is, in this sense, to disassociate--to create a new being who would not do such a thing. It is often an indicator that the subject did the very thing accused.
She then expands her denial:
"I did nothing to either one of them at all. I am at fault for allowing her [Jordynn's] dad around her and I shouldn't have. I know that."
Nelligan believes Smith's drug use is to blame for their daughter's death, not her own past use.
She avoids her daughter's name and now offers that she did "nothing" to the victim's father.
What might cause this?
The false allegation made against him is the likely context.
The subject now embeds her admission. I have highlighted the embedded admission in red, as well as the other indicators of contextual deception:
"I should have never let her father around her and believe me, I regret that for the rest of my life. I will never forgive myself for that, ever, but I can promise the world that if I hurt her, I would've killed myself that night. I hate saying those words because I don't want my kids to ever think I'm going to do that but I would've killed myself because I could never live with myself if I did something like that."
She is likely telling the truth about suicidal ideation and likely has threatened it. She needs to be seen as someone who "wouldn't" do that to her children. Collateral interviews likely showed that she did threaten suicide to those near her, including the children.
It is interesting to note that she uses subtle disassociation rather than issue a simple denial.
The subject indicates deception and guilt, with the ability to blame another. She distances herself from her daughter, and her words reveal a manipulative personality.
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