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Monthly Archives: October 2009

Balloon Boy: Reading the Signs of Deception

When was all said and done about the "Balloon Boy" case in Larimer County, Colorado, it all came down to the verbal and nonverbal cues of deception generated by the Heenes.  Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden and Commander Ern Hudson's investigators played the case perfectly.  They let the Heenes talk and the more they talked the more cues of deception both verbal and nonverbal the Heenes generated.

The best rule of thumb for getting enormous amounts of good investigative information is a narrative-based interview.  That tactic alone has proven to recover nearly 60 percent more information than accusatory style tactic.  It is a technique that is least likely to contaminate and alienate any witnesses or victims during their interviews.  It also assists cooperative victims and witnesses in recalling more critical details.  At the same time if the subject decides to lie during their statement, there are generally many more lies disclosed making it easier for the interrogator to develop leads as well as impeach any false statements made by the subject.  A narrative-based interview of a suspect also dramatically reduces the possibility of a false confession because of it's non-coercive nature.  Also by using a narrative-based interview, the interrogator doesn't have to reveal much of his case information if in fact he does reveal anything at all.

There is one thing consistent with almost everyone who proposes to mislead or lie to the people who are their intended victims.  They've got to keep talking to them to keep them on their side. More importantly the liar has to keep talking in order to convince those who are on the fence or still doubt the story. 

An additional problem for the liar is their need to see and hear the reactions from their lie target.  If they don't get the feedback that is satisfying or rewarding, their tendency is to keep pitching the lie until they get the reaction they want.  At the same time the liar has got to be aware of their own verbal and nonverbal cues that the lie target may identify as signs of possible deception.  When talking to the investigators for Larimer County, thier would be their undoing.

An additional problem for the Heenes – there were too many people involved to keep the lie going!  Not only Heene and his wife but also their 6 year old son who was at the center of this staged media event.  His comment that they did it "for the show" will be devastating.

Finally … there are remaining problems for the liar.  Creating the lie, defending the lie if challenged and biggest of all – remembering all the different versions of the truth they have created and told.

Despite their education, experience and media savvy background, the Heenes still couldn't get away with their big lie.  The nemesis of any liar is their own belief that they are good liars, have created a good lie and therefore can get away with their deception.

For the Heenes – they had already lost the game with the first lie they told to the media.

Waiting to hear more of the inside story of this case.

"The Lie Guy®"