1. Start with innocuous questions, i.e. complete name, age, address, employment, etc.

The purpose is two fold: first to acclimate the suspect to the interrogation environment and, at the same time 2) to afford the interrogator an opportunity to evaluate the suspect’s normal verbal and non-verbal behavioral patters.

2.) A “know why” question. “Do you know why you are here?” or “Do you know why we are here?”

If the suspect is vague, na´ve, or evasive in his reply, such as “I suppose you want to talk about what happened to ____________” etc. that should be viewed in a different light than if he very bluntly states “You’re trying to find out who ______ The latter response is more characteristic of that of an innocent person. For the guilty, he words ______ will likely be too inflammatory and emotional for him to use.

3.) Following the “know why” question it is generally appropriate to say: We have interviewed a lot of people, the pieces are falling together quickly, if you had anything to do with this you should tell me.

This offers him an opportunity to readily admit his involvement if that be the case. In the absences of the unlikely occurrence of a sudden admission of guilt, the interrogator’s statement will nevertheless serve the purpose of inducing a display of behavioral responses suggestive of either guilt or innocence.

Compare both verbal and non-verbal behavior.


4.) The next step for the interrogator would be to ask a few general questions regarding the suspects knowledge about he event, the victim, and possible suspects. If he is innocent, he is thereby given an opportunity to divulge possibly helpful information that might not have been disclosed otherwise. On the other hand, if guilty, he is placed in a vulnerable defensive position. He may make a remark that would be indicative of guilt or would lead to a specific line of questioning.

The following series of questions should be asked for the purpose of evoking behavioral responses indicative of either guilt or innocence:

5.) Why do you think someone would do this?

The purpose of this question is to ascertain the suspects perception of the motive for the crime. The guilty individual will be faced with a dilemma when asked this because, in essence, he is being asked to reveal why he her. In an effort to conceal any indication of his involvement he may hesitate or else repeat the question as a stalling tactic in order to construct what he believes to be an acceptable answer. On some occasions a guilty suspect may even reveal his true motive by offering an explanation such as “maybe there was an argument, or maybe someone was drinking or on drugs.” If the guilty individual does not offer an excuse he usually will respond with “I never thought about it.” When someone who you knew is , as in this case. It is only natural to think about a possible motive or cause for the incident. In conjunction with this type of verbal response, the suspect may engage in a variety of nonverbal gestures suggestive of his discomfort and concern over the question.

The innocent individual may also make a similar statement such as “I don’t know why anyone would do this, she didn’t have an enemy in the world”, or “the must be insane”. In making those comments he would maintain direct eye contact and would probably lean forward in his chair.

6.) Of the people you and _____________ knew, who would be above suspicion?

This question is an implied invitation to the suspect to assist in the investigation. If he is being


truthful, he will readily name specific individuals whom he feels would be above reproach or for whom he would vouch as not being involved in ____________________ death. He will not be afraid to eliminate certain persons from suspicion. If, on the other hand, he is guilty, his response might be noncommittal. Guilty suspects usually do not want to eliminate any one individual from suspicion because that would tend to narrow the search down to them. They might respond, therefore, by saying, “I don’t know; its hard to say what people might do.” Meanwhile, they may shift around in the chair or engage in some other types of movement, break eye contact and display other non-verbal behavior indicative of guilt.

If the suspect names himself as above suspicion, no absolute inference should be drawn, but it must be noted this type of response is more typical of the deceptive suspect than of the innocent.

7.) Who do you think might have done this?

The innocent suspect is likely to provide name(s) where as the guilty suspect usually will not reveal a suspicion about anyone else, no matter how much effort is made to have him do so.

8.) What do you think should happen to the person who did this to _______________?

The innocent person will indicate some significant punishment, such as going to the penitentiary or receiving the death penalty. In contrast, if he is guilty, the suspect will try not to answer the question. He likely will say “It’s not up to me” or “who am I to pass judgement?” or may indicate the offender should be asked the reason for committing the crime. The underlying explanation for this evasion is that were he to suggest a penalty, he would in effect be prescribing his own punishment. In the event a guilty suspect does indicate severe punishment, any accompanying nonverbal behaviors will likely believe the sincerity of the answer.

9.) Did you think about ___________________, even though you didn’t go through with it.

If he acknowledges he has thought about her, it


is suggestive of possible guilt. Even if he answers “yes” he will probably qualify it by saying, “but not seriously”.

The innocent suspect will likely answer a simple “no”.

Once a suspect has admitted he thought about her, the interrogator should ask about the kind and frequency of such thoughts. If the thoughts went as far as plans or preparations, and especially an actual attempt, then the interrogator should become even more secure in the belief of the suspect’s guilt.

Another variation of this question would be “have you ever dreamed about doing something like this?”

10.) Would you be willing to take a polygraph test to verify what you have told me is the truth?

The innocent usually is willing. The guilty begins making excuses such as they are not very reliable, etc. Caution must be exercised to avoid attaching too much significance to a person’s reluctance (or perhaps even an outright refusal) to be examined.

10.) How do you think you would do on a polygraph regarding the of _________________?

The guilty suspect will probably respond by expressing doubt about the accuracy of polygraph tests. He may say “I hope I do alright,” “I don’t know I’m so nervous” or other such replies.

The truthful suspect will usually be very confident of the outcome.

11.) Did you discuss __________________ with your family or close friends?

Experience has indicated that if the suspect is guilty, he may say “No” to this question. Not only will he want to conceal the fact that an event occurred for which he anticipated to be questioned, but he probably also wanted to avoid actually being asked by a family member or friend any probing questions bearing on his possible involvement. He may account for his failure to disclose the event to family and friends on the grounds that he did not want to cause them any worry or concern.


If he is innocent, however, he probably has discussed the matter with a family member of friend and will acknowledge that fact to the interrogator. He also may relate the reactions of those persons.

12.) If we can identify the person who did this to ____________________, do you think they should be given a second chance?

This is a question similar in principle to the punishment question.

A truthful person is rarely in favor of giving a guilty person a second chance, the guilty suspect on the other hand will often indicate some type of leniency or be noncommittal about it.

Again verbal vs. nonverbal communication would be examined to determine the crediblity of he spoken answer.

Any further questions and/or discussion regarding this matter should be referred to Peter A Smerick at telephone number [omitted] and/or [omitted].