It was reported on the BBC website last week that a woman, Margaret Fleming, with learning disabilities, was missing whilst in the care of a couple for the last 18 years. Indeed, no one has seen Margaret since 1999 except the carers and the missing person report was placed by a government agency after she failed to attend an interview regarding her Disability Living Allowance.
It has been a year since the report was made and the police, after extensive investigations, including digging up the garden, have put out an appeal to anyone who might have information. The BBC, in this report, show a clip of an interview they did with the carers. It seems that the carers claim that she left their care when the police turned up to look for her.
It is rare that people out right lie, more often they use truthful but deceptive words, they need to explain themselves, and they omit information. This statement makes for an interesting analysis because even to the untrained ear, the carers sound deceptive.
Here is an overview analysis of the words the carers chose to communicate – what we call Statement Analysis:
Note: strike though and italics indicate variables in the transcript due to heavy Scottish accent
The original article with interview can be found here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-41542875
00:00 Eddie Cairney: On our way back from Grimsby
‘On our way’ is like ‘once apon a time’ – he is story telling which we would not expect. In a truthful statement we expect the opening word to be a pronoun. I am alert for deception.
we come down a hill
We – he is with someone – who?
Come – Present tense – not from memory? our expectation is for a person to speak in the past tense when accessing a memory. Story telling?
A hill – article ‘a’ not ‘the’ this hill is not known to him?
the wi, the with,
The brain is struggling here already – the fabrication needs to be anchored in reality – where is he going to go next? He self edits himself here to stop the flow of information
Interesting the word ‘with’ – is there a 3rd party in his mind that he then doesn’t want to mention? And then the “with” might distance them
the quickest way here is down a path a permanent path area there and along the back around and then the back door. (2 sec pause)
The quickest way here – speed is of essence to him now – why is it important to prioritise quickness here?
He says what the quickest way is but he doesn’t say the way they came – he stops the flow of information to tell us about the quickest way here – it is important to him
Could this be a change of language from “path” to “permanent path?’ What is the difference to him? Change of language indicates a change in perceptive reality. We now what to know why has caused this change in his reality.
Path – repeated twice and a need to define it as permanent – why is this important to him? The sensitivity level is increased through repetition.
And then – skipping over time, what happened between ‘along the back’ and the ‘back door’ on this day that he is now focused on
The subject is Margaret – I speculate the question is ‘tell us what happened the last time you saw Margaret before she left’ – this is what is on his mind as he anchors his story in reality – it is important to him – the first place he goes to is ‘a path’ which he then needs to tell us is a ‘permanent path there’. I want to know why this path and its permanence is important to him when he thinks of the last time he saw Margaret.
Delaying for time and slowing down that narrative – unnecessary words seeking to explain what came before
And the blue lights were flashing
Why is he telling me this? This is unnecessary information so I’m taking take note. Unnecessary information indicates sensitivity.
Lights are mentioned here – lights flashing – not on, not off, but flashing – what is he trying to tell me here about sexual activity that is in his mind right now. (Lights indicate sexual activity is on the mind of the communicator)
Note that he is now in the talking in the past tense
The sentence starts with “and” which suggests missing information here.
and um I thought, struth? Margaret was for running at that moment eeh I said, “It’ll there’ll be an accident in the road Margaret, if they’ll not be looking for you.”
Time to think – awareness of thoughts – why?
He tells us what he was thinking. This is the first time he uses the pronoun “I” in regards to what he was thinking.
Where were “they / our / we” whoever the collective are when the blue lights were noticed? (were they on a hill, coming up the path, permanent path?) He says, “we come down A hill and the blue lights were flashing.” Whereabouts were the blue lights flashing, does he mean the house? He doesn’t say this. He doesn’t say how he got back from Grimsby i.e. the method of transport, who was driving etc
This is the first time he names someone – it is Margaret – the focus of his statement – It is an incomplete social introduction however, we do not know what came before in this statement.
He speaks for Margaret, we do not know what Margaret was for or against
Present tense here
He mentions accident in the road – leakage?
Cos she’s, she had this all her life this persecution complex kind of thing. [pause]
Cos need to explain why she was ‘for running’ – we highlight this in blue (formatting doesn’t allow for this in WP) to indicate the highest level of sensitivity.
She’s, she had – self editing – this may be doubly important as he seems to self edit in the wrong way. “She’s’ = “she has” which is corrected to “she had” “she’s” suggests she is still alive. “She had” speaks to past tense.
She had – past tense – does she not have it any more? she is dead?
Persecution complex – an established narrative? Subtle victim blaming which is further weakened by the need to say “kind of thing” – victim blaming speaks to psychology of the communicator and their view of the world. It is common for perpetrators to need to blame their victims – ‘it was the victims fault that I had to beat them with an iron bar’
I’m on the alert as to whether the subtle victim blaming continues. He has a need to say what he did.
Kind of thing – comparative but to what? he doesn’t tell us, weakens the statement yes
Persecution complex – ‘the world is against me’ – who is her world? Her carers are. Why does he think she would think they are against her ? He is validating a conflict with the missing person and his belief she has a problem.
All her life – the need to say this in this way. example : I am going through my grandmother’s things after her death with someone, I pick up a leg brace and I say ‘she had this all her life, this leg brace kind of thing’ = reminiscing – ‘…. and eventually it killed her’? It could be leakage as to reason of death as he sees it – this statement is not expected. I’d expect him to say, “she has had this.”
Thus far he cannot say what has happened or what was done, i.e. “the quickest way” not the way they came and “was for running” not that she ran. This seems a recurring theme.
We Where (2 sec pause) we come in the back door, eeh I, I come into the hall, it was just err she’s straight out there and there was this guy and ah for the best part, hysterical man, screeching,
Who is ‘we’?
Come – present tense again
Back door – awareness of doors can indicate childhood sexual abuse “door” is repeated from earlier, we have in order, “back door, flashing lights, back door.”
I come into the hall – I believe him – but where is Margaret? I’d want to consider the layout of the house, “we come in the back door” “I come into the hall” What is between the back door and the hall? Does the other part of the “we” stay by the back door? How far does he have to walk before he gets in the hall?
Changing pronouns from ‘we’ to ‘I’ distancing – change in relationship
Come – present tense this continues
We have a stuttering “I” which shows an increase in tension.
Who is ‘she’, Margaret or someone else? And where is ‘out there’? The hall?
“She straight out there” leakage to her burial spot ?
There is a lot of missing information – details – who is doing what where
There – where is there? In the hall?
This – proximity is close, I note the incomplete introduction especially as “this guy” is a policeman. He’s not given a title. Is this indicative of his thoughts towards the police? I’d look to see if this continues.
“screeching” is this irritation ? Does our subject have a short fuse ? I’d like to know his definition of “screeching.”
Slows narrative with unnecessary words – time to think? What else did “this guy” say for the remainder? How long was “the best part?” and what else did he say? Missing information? What doesn’t he tell us?
Descriptive words chosen, need to persuade – hysterical, screeching – why these words, why so many words? – law of economy expects ‘there was a man shouting’ –
He is talking in the past tense again
ah, a, wha, a, I dun, I dunno why that, he was like that but he was screeching, “Where is Margaret, where is Margaret?”
Well she knew right away it was her they were wanting.
Struggles to find his next words – seeks to have no explanation (negative), I now want to know why – we have a blue
I dunno – negative – what does he know
‘that’ is distancing I want to know what ‘this’ is
But – what follows is more important – it is important that he was screeching ‘where is…’ – why screeching and not shouting? Need to persuade? Is it normal to be hysterical and screech ‘where is Margaret?’ in Eddies’s dictionary of words?
“I dunno why that, he was like that but he was screeching” – he is irritated, expressing surprise but also irritation. He is implying that there was something wrong with the “hysterical man” This is also contempt for the hysterical man. This seems to continue his thought patterns towards the police.
Well – unnecessary word, seeks agreement with audience, audience awareness, storytelling this also sounds like a pause for effect in the narrative,
Did she tell him she knew? How does he know what she was thinking?
“Well she knew right away” – Deception indicated He has no way of knowing what Margaret knew right away. He could have said, “After the man screeched, she ran right away.” How does he know as he doesn’t see her or say that he sees her again.
Is he blaming the police here for her allegedly running away?
Interviewer: And who was this, this man?
Eddie Cairney: (interrupting) This policeman.
This – proximity
Introduction remains incomplete despite being asked
Contempt for law enforcement and language change- “this guy”, “hysterical man” and now “This policeman” His views continue.
Interviewer: Policeman. Oh.
EddieCairney: Policeman, aye. (To Avril Jones, his partner:) Ahh, He appeared to have been in charge at that time didn’t he?
Avril jones: Yes.
He has not mentioned Avril in his story thus far, but now seeks confirmation from her.
“He appeared to have been in charge” Not in charge, only appeared so. Again contempt
“At that time” – conditional. Two more insults to law enforcement. 1. He appeared to be in charge and clearly wasn’t 2. He only appeared to be in charge for a short time. It’s ongoing. What does “at that time” mean? One occasion or more?
“Didn’t he?” – either the bullied approval of Avril is validating to him or he feels the need for her to corroborate his appraisal and judgement
She confirms – thereby confirming her presence
Why has he not mentioned her before?
All she has is this one word answer. She may be unsafe herself.
Eddie: and he screeched and he screamed and then I heard him say to Avril, “Is that him?”
More descriptive but what was he screeching and screaming about? he doesn’t say. Again why choosing these words, why does he stay in this place of screeching and screaming – delaying? Slowing narrative? “Screeched” now “screamed” repeated from earlier.
repeats ‘he’ – unnecessary words
And he isn’t done yet. He has a need to demean an officer here with more “screeched and he screamed” Anger, he depicts a male officer’s questioning as that of a little child.
More confirmation that Avril was present and first time he has mentioned her name in the ‘story’
I believe this statement – he owns it with the pronoun ‘I’
“And then” – how much time has passed. What happened here?
“I heard him say” he doesn’t say “he said to Avril” he’s still unable to say what happened. I.e. he seems unable to ascribe / affirm an action.
and um obviously he’d seen me ah up the hall. (pause)
Obviously – well obviously – storytelling, audience aware because what else could they have seen? The officer is not astute, he noticed the obvious. Another insult. Need to persuade “believe me” This weakens what he is saying. It’s unnecessary and he has a need to say this.
“seen” Did they have eye contact ? Seen or saw?
Up the hall – not in the hall? Or down the hall? But up…. What does this tell me? Is this leakage? More directions.
The light was on and everything else. Later on it was, I was hiding in the hall, according to the police.
The light was on – sexual activity – Lights being turned on is an indication that sexual activity is on the mind of the subject. The references to sex are adding up. there is a need to say this – unnecessary information. And everything else – what constitutes everything else? Unnecessary words What else was on ?
He is sticking to his statements of irritation and disdain of how dumb this officer was. He “obviously” saw me, the light was on and it wasn’t difficult to see. Here he is being questioned about the disappearance of a woman he was responsible for taking care of and he cannot stop himself from belittling, complaining and outright insulting the law enforcement officer. This way of thinking is ingrained and he can’t stop himself even for a video taped interview. This is interesting, I’m reading this as I go along. There is no emotion toward the missing person (Margaret) as yet. This is the focus of his priority.
Later on – the passing of time TL- from the ‘light being on and everything else’?
I believe this statement ‘I was hiding in the hall’
According to the police – seeks to case doubt?
“According to police” whom he had clearly made the case that they are idiots. Why the need to say this ? this is unnecessary. He has a need to say this.
He said, “Where’s Margaret Fleming?” I said, “she’s here, b, wha, what, what you want her for?” [pause]
More struggle to find words – I note that there is disconnect as he tries to move between police story and Margaret story – margaret is the focus – delaying for time
He stutters again, increasingly around where the police are involved. An increase in tension?
“What you want her for?” not “why do you want to talk to her?” or “Why do you need her” or “Is there trouble?” Is she his property ? He doesn’t answer the question. He repeats it with a question, hence answering a question with a question which makes the initial question from the policeman sensitive. He needs to buy time to think.
blah, blah, ah, I don’t remember exactly the the ah but I turned round to get Margaret
“blah, blah, ah” more contempt for officers words It’s blatantly rude. Petulant and childlike. Dismissive, “of no value to me” so to speak
I don’t remember exactly – what does he remember? He isn’t saying he doesn’t remember, he is saying he doesn’t remember “exactly” Missing information here.
But – what follows is more important
I turned around to get Margaret – this is more important than the answer to the question ‘what you want her for?’ the answer is unimportant to him, he doesn’t seek to protect margaret, but to ‘get Margaret’
I turned round = body position = sensitive
and she was gone, she was out the door.
I believe him – This seems passive. He doesn’t ascribe an action to her as has been the case throughout. “She was gone” sounds more akin to “death” He doesn’t say “Margaret” or “she” ran out.
Leakage as to where she is now “out the door” – he doesn’t specify which door “door” is mentioned again.
There was police at the back, police at the front, she couldn’t get out that door without being seen.
I am still believing him
That door – which door? The front door or the back? He gives priority to the back – the back door is sensitive to him “door” is referenced again.
There is subtle blaming of the police again. Is he making them out to be foolish for missing her?
I don’t know which way she went.
Negative – i am taking note – What does he know? He is now looking to answer the question – how was she not seen. He is anticipating being asked and offering his speculation
There are three ways she could have gone, that way, along the beach, or up on the road ahh (2 sec delay)
‘That way’ – it is not clear – it is priority
He started his statement about a path – it is priority – that way is priority as well – the same place but different language – I am looking for a change in experiential memory. ‘That’ also denotes distancing – what has changed during the course of this dialogue to change the ‘the quickest way’ ‘permanent path’ to ‘that way’
It is what he is not saying – he is not saying ‘back door’ and he is not saying ‘path’ – he doesn’t want to provide specifics.
Interrupted by interviewer: So she managed to evade the police that day?
Eddie: Aye, she must have, pause I mean, she, she, ehh she must have, aye she must have just walked through them mustn’t she?
“Aye” but not yes. He’s going with her answer because he can’t articulate one himself. He could have stopped at “aye” which is the casual form of “yes” making the extra words unnecessary – need to persuade
“She must have just walked through them” – he is literally offering up a make believe option – magical thinking. It sounds like he’s minimising what she allegedly did and the police missed with “just”. Again he highlights the inadequacies of the police.
He is really struggling with this answer – seek to convince ‘must’ repeated many times Three times. He needs support. This weakens what he is saying. More NTP.
Mustn’t she – Seeks agreement with question ‘what do you think?’ that is the only thing that is possible isn’t it? What else is possible? Invites audience to provide answers…Why allow others to think differently, this leaves doubt. He shows an awareness of the audience and a need to get alongside and not be alone. There’s an increase in stuttering.
Asks a question in response to a question making the question asked a sensitive one.
Seeks to provide a solution
Interviewer: Have you seen her since she left?
Eddie: Yes, she’s been here once (pause) Not here, not to our house but we’ve seen her once.
I believe him that she has ‘been here once’
Two negatives – sensitivity
But what follows is more important – we have seen her once is more important than ‘here’
He contradicts himself in this sentence. “she has been here once” and then “Not here”
“our” and “we’ve” he has a need to share the answer to the question have you seen her since she left ?
Avril: Kaye, don’t, lie down son (talking to the dog)
Eddie Cairney: ahh and when we seen her she was just the way she’d left here, she was, she was, contrary to the earlier day, she was clean, ahh, and (behaved? ineligible) she stopped this shouting and bawling at you when she spoke to ya.
The original question was “have you seen her since she left?” he is continuing to answer this question. She has introduced the word “left” which may minimise the effect of his use of the same word as he could be parroting her language.
We seen – seeks to share experience of seeing “We seen” as opposed to “we saw?”
Just – passive is he making a comparison here and if so, to what? Leakage ? “we seen her just the way she’d left here.” ? Was she dead ? She would have been contrary to “the earlier day,” clean, behaved, she stopped shouting and bawling at you when you spoke.
Left – high light blue – critical missing information – the leaving of Margaret is on his mind – it was used in the question however, so this could be parroting
Here – location repeated now several times – he defines in previous sentence ‘not here, not our house’ = here is ‘our house’
I highlight blue ‘she was’ as he seeks to explain, but has dropped the connecting word and goes directly to explaining – if this is correct – then only one word exists between the two blues (‘left and ‘she was’) – ‘here’ – is she still in the house? Could this be “upstairs” a possible direction she could have gone from earlier? Or was she kept somewhere in the house before being moved/buried and they’d ‘seen her here once’ since she left when they moved the body ‘out the door’ ‘that way’ to ‘the path the permanent path’?
Far too many words here – indeed, this information hasn’t been requested at all (anticipated question: how was she when you saw her?) this is a sensitive statement.
‘just the way’ – there is exactness to this, (not a hair on her head had moved) – These are unnecessary words and ‘just’ is a comparative word. What is he comparing. No one is just the way they were. what has not changed then? He tells us – earlier day – what day? This earlier day has priority to what has not changed since she ‘left’ He is describing her physical constitution (clean), (behave?), she stopped shouting and bawling (behavior) what was she doing? Saying? Could clean “ be associated with a body?
The comparative measure? Clean and behaved (?) she stopped – I want to know what dirty, misbehaved and she continues looks like to him. Again, his descriptions are those given to children, clean, behaved, not shouting and bawling.
But why make this statement? why is it important to state this? What change that has happened is he not wanting to tell us about? It’s unnecessary information. Her physical condition was on his mind and takes priority in his response.
Contrary – seeks comparison without clarification = sensitive
She stopped – she is now dead
this shouting and bawling at you – who is you? Margaret is no longer in the equation after she stopped ‘this shouting and bawling’ so they can’t say ‘her’ they can only say ‘you’
This whole sentence struggles to make sense… sensitivity is off the scale
“she stopped this shouting and bawling” Bringing the shouting and bawling close to him. Then:
“when she spoke to ya” – is passive, not “when she talked to you” – or “when she was speaking to ya” he says it as if when she spoke was an event. Was she limited in her permission to speak? He focuses upon the vocalizations of others with contempt, the policeman screeching, Margaret shouting and bawling. Did he seek to quiet her in her ability to speak when she was in their care and then to quiet her when he killed her? Strangulation may be her cause of death. Did he stuff something in her mouth?
Both words are the past tenses of words with similar meanings. Spoke to means “held a conversation with.” Talked to means “communicated ideas, information, or feelings in spoken words.” However, talked to is deemed a little more forceful as it implies more of a one-sided conversation.
The interview continues offering speculation and attempts to explain where she has been and what she is doing, so I will stop here as we are now have analysed the key part of the statement regarding the question as to what happened the day the police came looking for her and if she had been seen since.
The most significant part of the remaining part of the interview is Avril being asked if she would like to say anything to Margaret to which she replies with a 7 second silence broken by Eddie needing to explain again.
In statement analysis it is what is not being said that is most important!
We can conclude that she, Margaret, is dead and the body is outside the house, mostly likely location the ‘permanent path’. When her death happened is not clear, or the actual cause.
Thank you to Jo and Chris for their input into this analysis!