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The Analysis, Observation and Documentation of Missing Time and Information within Written Statements

 

Objective

This paper is part of a series of articles pertaining to statement analysis, which is the process analyzing words people use while communicating, whether written or spoken, to determine if what is being stated is truthful or deceptive. In addition to determining the veracity of the statement, we can use the subject's language to gain insight into the subject as he relates to other people mentioned in the statement (relationships). We can see where the subject showed sensitivity or tension in his writing, where they lacked commitment to what they are stating, and where he/she left out information in the statement. This series of articles will cover several of the essential elements to look for while conducting a statement analysis, all of which are important and fit together like a puzzle to form the "big picture". The main objective of this report is to exploit one aspect of statement analysis in detail, specifically missing time and information within the statement. In doing so, this report will cover several areas that fall under this category of missing time and information. Some of the essential points that will be included will be the following:

  • Linguistic signals indicating something has been skipped over
  • Objective times within the statement
  • Subjective time of the statement (pace of writing)
  • Significance of location within the statement
  • Outside issues
  • More

This report includes both hypothetical situations and several actual statements or excerpts from various statements that I have analyzed. When an actual statement is cited, there may be a footnote. The information contained within the footnote will be general information regarding the case such as type of crime, date, status, etc. Also included will be any corroborating information developed from other investigative activities that support the analysis.

This particular aspect of statement analysis, missing time and information, is a significant part of the analysis process. The reason being is that during criminal investigations when we obtain a statement from someone who potentially committed a crime, if guilty of the crime and he/she wishes to provide a “truthful” statement, that person will have to skip over the crime itself or they must confess or admit their guilt. In doing so, they can be completely truthful within their statement, but they just did not tell you everything. Therefore, if we find what is “missing” from the statement we will have a better understanding of what actually happened and we will be that much closer to obtaining the whole truth.

When we obtain a written statement from someone requesting that they write down everything that happened during the day from the time they got up until the time they went to sleep, it is understood that it will be difficult if not impossible for them to articulate every single detail of their day. What they will provide us is what they feel is important for us to know. They may leave out information that may be perceived as insignificant to them, such as a social telephone call from a friend who called to say hello. This call and subsequent conversation may not have had anything to do with the crime or incident being investigated; therefore, the subject may have decided it was not important for us to know. However; on the more sinister side, the subject may leave out a call received from a friend who told him over the telephone that he just robbed a convenience store and requested that this friend provide him with an alibi if the police ask him any questions. In this circumstance, the subject left out information that he believed was "too important" for us to know. Looking at either statement, we will be able to see linguistic evidence that something was left out, and through analysis and a detailed inquiry, we will be able to determine if the missing information is significant and possibly related to the crime. This will be discussed in detail later in this paper.

Statement analysis requires the investigator to enter the statement with "the total belief in the subject". With the assumption that the person is truthful, the investigator can be more objective in the analysis. Furthermore; the majority of statements people will provide will contain around 80-90% truthful information, and they may leave out or skip over any incriminating information. In addition, most people, if given the choice, would prefer to "lie by omission", leaving out incriminating information or details, as opposed to stating something which is completely untrue. Some reasons for this may be: points that will be included will be the following:

It is easier for the subject to do, rather that fabricating a story which he would then have to recall the details of or risk getting caught in a lie. They may view it as less offensive, and they may feel less guilt about it. It is easier for them to "justify" their story if the truth (or their omission) is later found out, by claiming a memory loss, stating "I didn't lie, I just forgot about that." (A memory loss can legitimately be claimed in only limited circumstances of insignificant nature. Even with the passage of time one should be expected to recall significant events)

Therefore, if we believe what the person told is true, and search for what they didn't tell us, we will soon have all the pieces of the puzzle and we will be able to complete the picture. This will probably be the case in the majority of the statements we receive. To reach the truth and gather all the pieces of the puzzle, we must first be able to identify within the statements where the person skipped over or left out information. We can do this by analyzing the objective times the person puts in the statement, the subjective time of the statement (the pace the statement is written), along with various linguistic signals such as connections, all of which will be explained in detail.

Objective Time

Objective times are times the subject puts within his statement. They are times that correspond with some activity the writer mentions within his statement. Such as, "I woke up at 7:00 am and ate breakfast." In this case, 7:00 am is an objective time. If he said, "I usually wake up at 7:00 am." This is not considered an objective time, because he is not committed to it, it does not tell us what time he woke up this morning, only when he USUALLY wakes up. The same goes for scheduled times, as in the following statement, "I had an appointment at 11:00 this morning." This is scheduled time and he does not commit to being there at 11:00. If he stated, "I was at my appointment at 11:00", this would be an objectivetime we could use. Objective times must be connected to some activity within the statement, however, any times mentioned within the statement are important, which we will soon see.

By analyzing the objective times within the statement, we could easily see any missing time. When the subject writes, "I arrived at my friends house at 4:00pm, and at about 4:20 his mother came home." In this case, the subject skipped over 20 minutes. This is probably the easiest way to see missing time within the statement. In cases such as this, when there is an obvious jump over time, consider if this "gap" corresponds to the time of the crime. If it does, this may increase suspicion that this subject may be involved.

Any times mentioned within the statement, whether connected to an activity or not, should be checked to see if they correspond with the time of the crime. The reason being is that many criminals put the time of the crime inside the story, apparently being an attempt at constructing an alibi. If one of the times does correspond with the time of the crime, this too raises suspicion that subject may be involved in the crime. This was the case in the following verbal statement:, "I was at home with my girlfriend and ate dinner around 8:00pm. We watched TV for a while then she left. I then watched TV, ESPN, until 3:00am."1 This verbal statement was obtained while investigating a kidnapping, rape, and robbery which occurred between 2:00am and 3:30am, and the subject put the time of the crime within his verbal statement, raising suspicion he may have been involved. He was subsequently arrested and DNA connected him to this crime.

It is important to note that while objective times are significant within the statement, and they may reveal valuable information, we cannot require the subject to put them in his statement. This would influence the statement and the analysis, and it would minimize the importance of the times mentioned. Therefore, when the subject does put in times on his own it is significant and important, and it is meaningful to the subject and to us during the analysis process. Furthermore, if the subject does not mention times within the statement at all, we do not attribute this to being deceptive. We still have total belief in the subject, this only tells us that at this point in the statement, the subject does not consider the time to be important.

Subjective Time

Through the analysis of the objective times, we can obtain the subjective time of the statement, which is the pace the statement was written. Subjective time is the amount of lines it takes the subject to write the statement. Even without times mentioned within the statement, we can obtain an estimate on the subjective time. Considering that in a truthful statement we assume something that took longer in reality will take longer to describe within the statement too. This concept is shown in the following statement; "I left my house at 7:30pm and went to the package store. I was not sure what kind of beer to buy, so, after looking around for a couple minutes, I ended up buying a six pack of Bud and a six pack of Molson. I then went to the party at 8:00pm and stayed there until everyone left, about 1:00am and then went home."

It is clear in the above statement that the subject slowed the pace of his writing while at the package store, spending over three lines to explain this, which is an activity that took only a few minutes in reality. However, he uses only one line to describe five hours of being at the party, greatly increasing the pace of his writing. This statement is unbalanced by subjective time and indicates significant information is missing from the statement.

The following information is an analysis of the objective times mentioned throughout a statement obtained from a husband reporting his wife missing:

Table A: 

Objective Time Subjective Time (LPH)
12:00am to 6:30am 2.15
6:30am to 8:30am 15.4
8:30am to 8:45am 28.0
8:45am to 9:30am 4.0
9:30am to 11:30am 6.0
11:30am to 12:00pm 2.0
12:00pm to 1:30pm 2.0
1:30pm to 2:10pm 3.0
2:10pm to 2:20pm 48.0
2:20pm to 3:00pm 7.5
3:00pm to 3:40pm 2.5
3:40pm to 4:20pm 4.6

Tabele B:

tableb-article2

In table A above you can see the objective times on the left, which are the times the husband put in his statement. The subjective times on the right, is the pace the subject wrote the statement, and shows how much time he spent writing about his activities between the objective times, which is shown in lines per hour (lph).

It is quite clear that there are some problem areas within the statement pertaining to the subjective times. These areas are between 6:30am and 8:45am, and from 2:10pm to 2:20pm. The pace of the statement is significantly higher in these areas (15.4 lph between 6:30am and 8:30am, 28.0 lph between 8:30am and 8:45am, and 48.0 lines per hour between 2:10pm and 2:20pm). The subject spent a significant amount of time in these particular blocks of time. This should cause us to examine in detail these areas.

The content of the statement between 6:30am and 8:30am pertains to an argument between he and his wife, which he stated mainly was about their children, then he stated his wife wanted to go jogging. Between 8:30am and 8:45am, he talks about him dropping his wife off at a particular location so she can jog home. The amount of time he spent in this area shows a lot of sensitivity and possible deception. Also at this point, during the argument, which is the third argument he mentioned in the statement, his wife's name disappeared from the statement. Throughout the first 3-1/2 pages, he mentions her by first name 7 times. After the third argument which is also the slowed pace of the statement, he does not mention her name at all for the remainder of the 3 1/2 pages, but refers to her as a pronoun she/her. She disappeared from his language after that point.

The other area of time, between 2:10pm and 2:20pm, where the pace of writing is 48.0lph, is when the husband had to call the police and get them involved in this "missing person" case. It is the time when a police officer came to his house to discuss his wife being missing. This shows an extreme amount of anxiety at this point in the statement. It is also significant to note that the only time the subject mentioned an objective time twice was at 1:30pm, which is when he phoned the police, another sensitive area for this subject.

Table B above (the graph) shows the information in table A put into a graph form. Each block of time is represented by one block within this graph. Using this format, anyone can see that there was a problem between 0630-0830, 0830-0845, and 1410-1420 hours.

At the conclusion of this investigation, the husband confessed to killing his wife and disposing her body in a neighboring state, which occurred during the argument between he and his wife in the morning between 6:30am and 8:45am. 2Below is a summary of things to look for pertaining to missing time.3

  • What are the objective times mentioned?
  • Is there only one time mentioned?
  • Is there a place at which the subject mentioned a very specific time?
  • Is there a time in which the subject corrected himself?
  • Can we divide the statement in two parts, with times and without times? If so, what is the difference between them, and at what point did the change occur?
  • Are there differences between the subject's commitment to the time? In one place the subject may have said at…, and at another place he may have said about…
  • Is there any time mentioned more that once?
  • Is there any missing time?
  • How many lines are there between the first time mentioned in the statement and the second time?
  • Did the subject write more than 4 lines per hour in the beginning of the statement?
  • Are there any other places in the statement where the subject wrote more than 4 lines per hour?
  • Are there any areas where the subject condensed the time?
  • Is there a sudden surge in lines per hour, where the subject significantly slowed down the pace of the story at a certain point?
  • Linguistic Signals

    In addition to the objective and subjective times mentioned within the statement, missing time and missing information can be detected through the analysis of the subject's language. Several words and phrases that the subject may use may act as "signals" to the analyst, indicating that information was removed from the story at a particular point in the statement. If any of these signals come before the main issue inside the statement, this may lead us to suspect that the missing information has something to do with the main issue. The same goes too if the main issue is surrounded by two signals.

    The following words are considered "unnecessary connections" and indicate there is something missing from the statement at that point:

    Later on, sometime later, shortly thereafter, afterwards, after this, after that, the next thing I remember, the next thing I knew, finally, eventually, from there.

    When these words and/or phrases appear in the statement, this is an indication that something is missing at that point in the statement. However, if they appear after food (breakfast, lunch or dinner) or church, they can be disregarded. This is because the content of the statement itself shows what is the missing information (i.e. the time spent eating, or the time spent in church).

    The following statement contains an unnecessary connection that indicates missing time. "Georgio and I left the hotel at 11:00. I went to a friend of mine and did her hair. He waited in the car. From there we went to Derby."4 The term, from there, is an indication that information is missing at that point in the statement. The time and information missing in this particular statement was only the time the subject spent doing his friends hair, and had no particular bearing on the investigation itself. However, it clearly shows that information was missing from the statement, although it was missing probably because the subject felt it was unnecessary and not important to the investigation. This is referred to as an "outside issue", and is information that may be missing from the statement or is sensitive to the subject but has no connection with the actual crime.

    Another example of an unnecessary connection can be found in the following statement. "…we got back in the car and got off exit 9 up to route 25 and call his girlfriend then called the police afterwards."5

    This connection, afterwards, clearly shows that significant information is missing from the statement at that point. This term is unnecessary and even adds wordiness to the statement. It would have been sufficient for the subject to say "…we got back in the car and got off exit 9 up to route 25 and called his girlfriend and the police." The use of the unnecessary connection "afterwards" indicated that the subject intentionally left something out of the statement at that point.

    Consider a written statement to be like a mathematical equation, and that each component, or link, must fit together in its proper place. When the subject writes, "I woke up and did A, B, C, and D", we understand that when the subject started B, A was completed, and when he started C, B was completed, and when he started D, C was completed. However, when the subject says, "I woke up and did A, B, C, and finally D." This is meaningful, and indicates there may be missing information at this point.

    I recently explained the concept of a written statement being like a mathematical equation to a victim of a reported sexual assault in a slightly different way. Since he was gifted in mathematics and science, I explained it in the following manner and asked him, "Do you know how I can tell that you were not completely truthful in your statement?" He responded, "No, how?" [his response is indicative of deception anyway] I wrote down the equation "E=MC2" on a piece of paper and asked him if he understood this, and he said he did. I then wrote down on another piece of paper "ME=2C", and asked if this made sense to him, and he said "No, not really." I told him that "Even though all the elements are the same in both equations, the same letters and numbers are there, the second one is not in the proper order to function properly." I told him "A truthful statement reflects reality, and the reality is that your statement is not completely true." The subject just nodded in agreement, and he ultimately stated that certain parts of his statement did not happen, and he recanted the sexual assault. 6

    Other linguistic signals, which indicate missing information, are verbs that show that there was a certain break in activity. Words used by a subject such as started, began, commenced, continued, proceeded, resumed, completed, finished, and ended are clear indications that there was a break in a particular activity. This may indicate that information is missing at that particular place in the statement. However, if the subject indicates within the statement why there was a certain break in the activity, then you can disregard the connection.

    The following statements show the difference between a statement which indicates a break in activity that is explained within the narrative, and one which indicates a break in activity that is not explained or understood by the reader.

    "I got home from work at 5:00 and started to make dinner. I was interrupted with a telephone call from my mother who invited me to her house for dinner that evening. I dropped everything and went over her house at about 5:30." With this statement, the reader understands that she started dinner, but did not complete it, and it is explained why within the statement.

    However, in the following statement we see a different situation. "She asked me if I wanted to go with her and I said 'no'. So she left then I sat down and started watching TV. I don't remember what show I was watching."7 In this particular statement, the subject started watching, which clearly shows that this was interrupted by something, but it is not explained within the statement. This is an indication that the subject intentionally omitted information at this point. Furthermore, the term used by this subject "I don't remember" in an open statement is another indication that information is intentionally being suppressed and increases the probability that deception is present. Combining both the verb started and the phrase "I don’t remember", we begin to see a cluster of deceptive indicators present within this narrative.

    The same linguistic signals indicating that something is missing from the story are found in the following statement from a reported kidnapping.

    "At this point I began to struggle, so he started punching me in the back, the belly & ribs area, and the groin as well." This language and verb use indicates a break in activity, suggesting that something is missing at this point. This is only a very small portion of a statement that was found to be a false statement made by an individual reportedly the victim of a kidnapping. There were many indicators of deception present within this particular statement, which at some point may be the subject of an article all its own. \

    Whenever we find indicators of missing time or information within a statement, whether it is through the objective times, the subjective time of the statement, or various linguistic signals, we should seek to find out what is missing and why it was left out. Is it absent from the narrative because it is unimportant information, or is it too important for them to mention…which may very well be the key to solving the crime and reaching the truth.

    Conclusion

    Although this report covered only one particular aspect of statement analysis, missing time and information, it is important to realize that every aspect of statement analysis is important. Each component fits together like a puzzle, until we can finally see the big picture, and ultimately reach an accurate conclusion to our investigations. We must realize too that it is just as important to detect innocence, as it is to detect deception, which is where statement analysis is very effective. This is why we should approach every statement as if it were the truth, maintaining a "total belief in the subject". We would not state that a subject is deceptive unless the statement SHOUTS that it is deceptive, and better yet, when it is also corroborated with a thorough investigation and supportive evidence.

    When conducting a statement analysis, we analyze the subject's own language and words, and if we "listen" carefully we can detect whether the subject is trying to "convey" or trying to "convince". A truthful subject will need only to convey what happened, while a deceptive subject will attempt to convince you that he is truthful. Furthermore, if we "read between the lines" and search for what the subject did not say, seeking out missing time and information, we can gain insight and additional information from both the truthful and deceptive subjects alike

    *This is a common technique with statement analysis, known as an "alibi statement", and allows the subject the freedom to write everything he/she thinks is important for us to know. The deceptive subject will also leave out information that is too important for us to know (criminal behavior/knowledge, etc.)

    1. A suspect in a series of kidnapping/rapes/robberies, one of which occurred between 2:00am and 3:30am. He stated he watched TV until 3:00am, but it was later found out his mother shut off the TV at 1:30am, thereby disproving his alibi. By interjecting the time of the crime, apparently an attempt to establish an alibi, he further raised our suspicions of his guilt. DNA later connected him to this crime.
    2. The husband provided a written statement about his wife being missing, the majority of which was a true statement. Everything he told us in the statement, places he went and people he saw during the day, all proved to be true. He only left out the fact that during the argument in the morning he killed his wife. This is an obviously sensitive issue for the subject, which was detected in the subjective time.
    3. LSI SCAN Workshop Guidebook, copyright 1996 by Avinoam Sapir
    4. This excerpt of a statement was from a car-jacking/robbery. This particular point was not related to the crime itself, but clearly demonstrates the effect of "unnecessary connections".
    5. This excerpt was taken from a victim/witness statement who was involved in a shooting on the highway.
    6. Sexual assault complaint in which the victims statement provided mixed signals, being truthful in certain areas, and deceptive in other areas. The deceptive signals mainly pertained to the actual assault itself.
    7. This statement was from the victim of a reported sexual assault. This point clearly shows that something was removed from the story at this point. In addition to the missing information, statement analysis indicated that the victim knew her attacker, and the missing information was the point where the victim most likely contacted the suspect and invited him over. The victim eventually confirmed this and she declined to pursue the case further.

      Bibliography

      1. S.C.A.N., Scientific Content Analysis, by the Laboratory for Scientific Interrogation basic and advanced training courses
      2. "Identifying lies in Disguise" by Wendell C. Rudacille
      3. "Investigative Discourse Analysis" by Don Rabon
      4. "Telling Lies" by Paul Ekman
      5. "Lies, Lies, Lies!!! The Psychology of Deceit" by Charles V. Ford, MD
      6. "Memory Enhancing Techniques for Investigative Interviewing, the Cognitive Interview" by Ronald P. Fisher, Ph.D., and R. Edward Geiselman, Ph.D.

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