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Alex Murdaugh

In Forensic Linguistics we look at what was said and what wasn’t, and why. In the Alex Murdaugh case we know what was said and we’re all assessing whether he is lying about killing his wife and son. Let’s look at what wasn’t said. 


Surviving family members want to know what happened, who killed their loved ones. It is inconsistent to impede the investigation by lying about when you last saw your loved ones alive. The time the homicides occurs is critical information in helping to determine what happened and who committed the homicides. 


In the OJ Simpson case, look at how OJ answered the very precision-seeking question from Detective VanAtter, “Yeah. When was the last time you saw Nicole?” A: “We were leaving a dance recital…” VanAtter was looking for a precise time, a snapshot, and OJ responded with an imprecise response, a movie (“We were leaving …”). 


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Truth-tellers want the investigators to know the truth; the killer doesn’t.



Forensic Linguistics - What is It?

Forensic Linguistics

  • Know what was said and why; what wasn’t said and why.
  • All communications preceded by thought. Everything said or not said is a decision.
  • Memories are physical - neuron connections (smells, sounds, sights, feelings, etc). 
  • Telling the truth is easier than lying/creating. 
  • Calibrate to the individual: pace, rhythm, vocabulary, blinking rate, focus, mannerisms, hand movements, etc. Introductory session prior to interview is very important.
  • Partial truths - we learn at an early age to tell partial truths; convince ourselves partial truths = whole truths (misleading)
  • If you tell me something knowing it is misleading, is that telling the truth?
  • Everything contaminates - even questions.
  • A person can be truthful and not factual.
  • Pronouns reveal ..  My daughter vs. My other daughter vs. My youngest daughter.
  • Denials. “I deny … ≠ a denial; “I didn’t do it.” = a denial.
  • Past tense, active voice = credible for a past event. Passive voice, present tense, change in voice = possible deception.
  • Patterns are important (calibrate); change of patterns is most important.
  • Question structure very important. Avoid wiggle words; use only words mutually understood.


"Contamination will cause irreparable harm whether you’re a CPA, Forensic Accountant, lawyer or surgeon."




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