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Jon D. Cromer
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of Graduate Psychology
Jo Anne Brewster
Michael L. Stoloff
Each year, numerous 911 calls reporting a death or a serious injury that leads to death are received by emergency communications centers; many of these turn out to be related to a homicide. Interestingly, a small percentage of these calls are made by the perpetrator. These calls constitute the first available evidence in most homicide cases. They are recorded at times of great stress and are the first versions of what the callers purport to know. The ability to develop hypotheses about a caller’s truthfulness enhances the police response by objectively informing the process of formulating early investigative strategies. For example, knowing whether the caller uttered any words or phrases considered to be red flags that indicate deception would give an investigator an idea about whether the caller should be interviewed in greater depth.
The present study examined 14 linguistic variables and an additional 4 “mitigating” variables in an effort to determine whether any of those variables, individually or in combination, were predictive of guilt or innocence. A sample of 50 calls to 911 centers was selected, including 36 innocent and 14 guilty callers. Five of the variables (Extraneous Information, Conflicting Facts, Incorrect Order, Proximity, and Weapon Touch) were significantly correlated (p
Cromer, Jon D., "911 Calls in homicide cases: What does the verbal behavior of the caller reveal?" (2016). Masters Theses. 473.
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