Tuesday, 11 July 2017
Ronald McMullen 911 Call on His Daughter's Shooting
After collecting evidence and noting some things "did not add up", police have arrested Ronald McMullen in the shooting death of his daughter.
The 911 call gives us a great deal of information before an investigation even begins. It often tells us most everything we need to know to focus our investigation.
Statement Analysis is the scientific process by which truth from deception is discerned, content obtained, and a profile of the speaker (subject) emerges.
An emergency call (911) is an "interview" where questions are posed with the expectation of answers given. Once a person speaks, if the person speaks in order to be understood, analysis is applicable.
In an interview, the interviewer (here, the 911 operator) will generally be given one of two impressions:
Either the subject is working with police to facilitate the flow of information, or the subject is not.
A good example of this is in the New Year's Eve shooting by former police chief William McCollum of his wife. The subject, a police chief at the time, did everything possible to conceal information about the shooting, including his personal relationship with the victim. A contentious relationship, the caller attempted to conceal responsibility for the shooting.
In spite of what some claim, a direct lie, that is, a fabrication of reality in an open statement is very rare. Less than 10% of deception is via this means. Those who are capable of fabricating reality in an open statement are accomplished liars who bring much damage to society.
Even sociopaths feel internal stress over lying, while holding no empathy for others. This is because we are conditioned to resist direct lying, which may result in a confrontational position where we are openly viewed as a liar.
Here, the caller shot his own daughter in the face and struggles to lie.
The internal stress of lying is lessened via several means including:
1. Yes or No questions.
These remove the burden of having to formulate a complete sentence that fabricates reality.
2. Parroting Questions
This, too, lessens the burden as the subject may use the language of the interviewer rather than create his own.
3. Lack of Commitment
"I don't know" and "I don't remember (recall)" are very frequently used in deception. "I don't recall" in any form, is said to be the number one form of deception in legal proceedings under oath.
Even guilty parties who are deceptive may have 100% technically truthful sentences. Listen carefully to the words of Ronald McCullen's 911 call.
The entire call is found Here
911: Where's the location of the emergency?
Subject: gives address
911: Your name and phone number?
Subject: gives name and phone number.
He answered both questions without offering any additional information.
This is a signal of obedience that we note.
In Statement Analysis, we note that some guilty parties will seek to "ingratiate" themselves into law enforcement. This is a powerful emotion within humans with our need of acceptance. In statement analysis it can become a red flag in cases such as:
DeOrr Kunz jr.
Here, the father gave a lengthy praise of police (authority) and search and rescue professionals.
Q. What is wrong with praising police and search and rescue professionals?
A. They had not found his son.
Often, urgency means impolite responses, as the caller, desperate to save the victim, will interrupt and go right to what has happened. Here, he patiently answers the questions.
911: "what's the problem there?"
"My daughter's shot. Just come to this address.
Here we learn how difficult it is for a human to lie outright. It is not only less than 10% of deception, it is by those most readily accomplished in deception.
Here, the caller is able to tell the truth. His daughter is shot; this is true.
It is not expected that he would stop here with the information. Yet, there is a single word that calls us to attention. The word is "just."
The word "just" is, in statement analysis, classified as a "dependent word." This means that it is when the subject is thinking of two or more other elements. If I say to you, "this car is just $15,000" it signals that I am comparing it to a more expensive car. In a sense, it is to say "only" or "solely."
Why would he not say "Come to this address", but add in "just"?
What else might he be thinking?
This word is a hint that the subject has something else on his mind that police might do besides coming to his address.
That he did not offer information about his daughter is not lost on the 911 operator. She now has the sense that the subject is not working with her for the flow of information.
911: Your daughter was shot?
This question is provoked because the 911 operator is confronted by the unexpected. She expected more information and not silence after each answer. She expected to hear where she is shot, her condition, and who shot her, all immediately offered.
Instead, the subject is using silence.
911 calls are said to be "excited utterance"; that is, words given in haste for a specific priority, not requiring pre thought or even pause.
It is an emergency and the caller is the biological father of the victim.
The 911 operator asks the subject to affirm his own statement. This is to bring doubt into the communication.
Subject: Yes, yes, just come to this address please.
It is a "yes or no" question and he answered it twice, and then repeated his prior statement, adding the polite "please."
Some may sense this to be scripted, especially as they listen to the audio but we view only the words used.
He "only" wants them to come to this address. This is now not only confirmation that something else is on his mind, but this something else is now sensitive to him; that is, the importance of something else is elevated via repetition.
The lack of information is startling to the 911 Operator, especially given that this is the father of a shooting victim and she is now worried that he is going to hang up:
911: Sir, sir do not hang up. did she do it to herself?
We do our best to avoid, at least initially, "yes or no" questions in the Analytical Interview process.
The 911 operator continues to be confronted by this seemingly lack of care for his daughter as he has not given any information about the wound, the shooter, if danger still exists, or even his daughter's first name.
911; Is there anyway she could still be alive?
Subject: "I don't know"
The subject offers nothing else.
Subject: I don't know what to do I'm trying
He stopped himself. He began to tell the police what he was trying to do, but this self censoring often occurs when a subject wants to avoid the internal confrontation of a direct lie.
He is trying to do something but the self censoring tells us: he does not want the police to know what he is trying to do.
Was he trying to limit his language?
Guilty parties will often attempt to limit their words, like McCollum, as they know every word may be scrutinized, while others, especially long term habitual liars, will "attempt to persuade" by using an over abundance of language, such as Casey Anthony.
In both attempts, we are able to obtain information.
911, ok just try to stay calm
subject: just come here
He has used the word "just" again. While he daughter is shot, he is thinking of something else and this something else is of extreme importance to him.
It is not his daughter's condition which has not processed through his language.
He is not facilitating information to help or save his daughter.
911: sir, they are their way. You talking to me does not slow them down, ok?
911: Ok, where is she shot at?
Subject: In the face
We like to say "pronouns and articles do not lie" in statement analysis.
This is his daughter.
This is his daughter's face.
For him, it is "the" face and not even "her" face.
This is the psychological distancing we often see in a guilty subject's linguistic disposition towards a victim. He depersonalizes her face; the most personal of locations.
Shooting or attacking the face is to attack the center of communication.
It is, with the article, "the" a strong indication that words were the final "trigger" that caused him to shoot her. He "silenced" her by shooting her in the face. He depersonalized her, both physically, and linguistically.
We now know why he has not given her condition, nor has he expressed interest in saving her.
911: How old is she?
Nothing else but "22" followed by silence.
911: Can you see her breathing at all?
911: Is she cold, or changing color, do you know?
Subject: I don't know. I just don't know.
The repetition and the need to isolate ("just") tells us that he knows her condition.
The 911 operator projects herself here. The only way he could not know is that he must not, in her perception of reality, be in the same room as her. She makes this assumption:
911: Are you able to go to her to find out if she is breathing?
911: Ok, let me know when you are by her.
Subject: I'm by her
Yet, he does not report what he sees, specifically, avoiding answering her question about breathing. He is "running out the clock" by forcing the interviewer to obtain information.
This is extreme reluctance.
911: Ok, do you feel or see any breathing?
Subject: She's not breathing.
He parrots only and he avoids using his daughter's name. This too is to "play it safe" by parroting, and to psychologically distance himself (signal of guilt) from his victim.
911: Ok, yes, did you hear a shot?
Since he has offered no detail, she is forced to ask what should have been an unnecessary question. Will he now give details about the shooting?
911: ok did this just happen?
Subject: Err, uh yes.
It is interesting to note that this question caused him to pause; making timing sensitive to him.
The operator knows he does not care about his daughter. She does not instruct him to begin CPR, instead opting for a most unusual question:
911: Do you want to try CPR?
She recognizes his reluctance and likely has the sense that the caller does not want the victim to live.
A parent's natural denial as such will lead parents to attempt CPR on a corpse.
His response is indicative of motive:
Subject: I guess, uh, yeah.
He went from "I guess", which is a very weak assertion, to the change of language "yeah" which is agreement.
This is a strong signal that our subject is now off his game, that is, is showing an increased self awareness of his role. He has safely given very short answers and has used parroting.
In this sense, he has "caught himself" as off script and sounding like someone who does not want to save his daughter.
consider this carefully:
He has been self aware throughout the call, but he tripped up, and now the awareness of how he is coming across to police is acutely increased.
This signals a change for the subject. We await the results of his new concern for self.
911: Ok, is she flat on the ground?
911: ok there is help on the way. I want you to lay her flat on her back on the ground.
Subject: She's on her back on the ground.
Safely in parroting mode.
Subject: I moved her from where she was to the living room
This is a very important statement. He can now appear to be the upset dad who cares for his daughter. He can now show that he has been more helpful than just "I guess."
In context, it is the first bit of information that he offered on his own, making it greatly important to him.
He wants police to know that he touched her. He is acutely aware of how he has come across now.
911: (gives CPR directions) Can you see or feel any breathing?
Subject: She's gone.
This is against parental instinct. Although mothers and fathers speak differently, a father may be the one who picked her up when she fell, put a band aid on her cuts and soothed her tears. He is, by design, made to protect and provide, instinctively, and this falls under protect.
We do not expect this answer, but natural denial and resistance from a father.
He is now the "grieving father", which is a signal of acceptance of death via processing. This is inconsistent with trauma. It is similar to the artificial editing of emotions within a statement. This affirms the change we anticipated when he went from:
"I guess" to the agreeable "yeah."
Subject: She's gone. She's not; she's gone.
911: Ok, so you don't think we should try CPR?
That which is worded in the negative is often elevated over that which is in the positive. The operator knows he does not want to do this. He only "guessed" he wanted to, but then recovered to affirm, "yeah", which indicated self-awareness.
This self awareness is what led to the "open sentence" where he offered information about moving her, with his hands upon her.
Subject: I don't know. I'm just telling you she's gone.
do you know how to do CPR?
I don't know what to do
I don't know what to do. I think she's gone.
911: do you know what kind of gun it is?
Subject: it was a pistol.
He changed the operator's language of "gun" to "pistol." She intuitively caught on to this and knows that he knows more about it than he may wish to reveal:
911: Do you know what caliber?
Even before arriving on the scene, we have a deception indicated status for Ronald McMullen regarding the shooting of his daughter.
He worked against the police, while trying to portray himself as the helpful father.
He grieved for his daughter when no such acceptance should have settled in.
He concealed the responsibility for the shooting.
He did not assert that his daughter shot herself. He avoided directly lying to police.
He indicated his intent to see that she did not survive.
He distanced himself from his daughter.
If he speaks with police, we are very likely to hear of some argument that took place just prior to the shooting, with the likelihood that he will, even subtly, blame his victim. He targeted her face deliberately, which is often associated with the need to silence words.
The police have arrested Ronald McMullen in the murder of his daughter.
For training for you, your department or business, please visit Hyatt Analysis Services.
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By Peter Hyatt