Casey Anthony: The Science of Deception

It’s not often that I am rendered speechless.

Posted on | Janine Driver | Comments ()

It’s not often that I am rendered speechless.

Yet, today is one of those days.

After deliberating a scant 10 hours, Casey Anthony is found NOT guilty on all charges, with the exception of four counts (misdemeanors!) of providing false information to police. Who were trying to find HER daughter.

As a mother myself, I can claim no other emotion than outrage. However, as a retired law enforcement officer (ATF), I know how easy it can be to get caught up in a web of lies – for both the perpetrator and investigator.

Clearly, Casey Anthony has a problem with the truth. Almost every detail of her (multiple) stories surrounding the disappearance of Caylee were proven to be false.

The babysitter? Doesn’t exist.

The job at Paramount? Never happened.

The accidental drowning? Disputed by her own father.

Even after the lies were revealed, Casey kept at it. And most people want to know: WHY? When she was staring down the barrel of an arrest, a conviction, a dead child – why on Earth didn’t she come clean, tell the truth, and set about finding her child?  

To understand how this web of lies grew larger and more intricate, it is important to understand that there are four main reasons why people lie:

  1. To avoid embarrassment
  2. To get out of trouble
  3. To gain some type of reward
  4. To intentionally hurt someone else

In Casey’s case, we see extreme embarrassment and trouble are the likely causes of her lies. However unbelievable that seems to all of us – it is highly likely that during the course of Casey’s life, lying has served her well.

If she has lied since childhood to cover up abuse in her home, hidden truths about employment and education, and been involved in highly dramatic relationships – her skills are probably pretty spot on. It is not unlikely that she would revert to this particular skill set to get her out of whatever sticky thicket she gets herself into – in fact, for her, this behavior is normal.

What makes this different from the nearly 20% of people who regularly lie during social interaction? The disappearance and murder of your child is a bit heavier than most fibs.

Unfortunately, once the words are out – they can’t be sucked back in. For someone like Casey, with her history and mindset, she has likely convinced herself that her version of events is accurate, or she is simply stubborn and sticking to her guns.

She herself stated to police, “I am running out of options.”

In her case, lying to police did not equate to murder – at least in the eyes of this jury. The police and prosecution had plenty of evidence, including Casey’s own admission that the majority of her statements to police in 2008 were false. At the time the police strategy was likely to keep Casey talking – no matter how bizarre or fanciful her stories were. They systematically disproved each layer – and for that she was convicted by a jury of her peers. 

They do not dispute the fact that she was lying all along. Casey’s body language showed this during questioning, during her courthouse phone calls, and during the trial itself. I have looked at tape, listened to calls, and been asked to comment on the case by numerous media outlets.

The evidence of deception is all there – the body blocking (covering parts of your body such as the eyes or mouth) and the smoke screen tactics (constructing elaborate lies or attempting to otherwise draw attention away from oneself). The inconsistencies and other body language had my BS detector ringing at full tilt these last few years!

That she was lying is now a matter of record. However, her intent remains unclear. And here is the trickiest part about detecting deception – the one component that we can never really be able to detect – and that is INTENT. We can’t predict or infer intent – those are the secrets that lie within the heart and minds of the liars, and often, they are never revealed.

To me and to most everyone else, it seems unfathomable that anyone would LIE about the circumstances surrounding their child’s disappearance and death. What purpose could this possibly serve if not to cover up her involvement? 

Yet, lie she did. The only question that remains is: If Casey didn’t lie to cover up her involvement – what happened to Caylee?

Sadly, we may never know.

Blog written by Janine Driver
Janine Driver is the New York Times best-selling authorof YOU SAY MORE THAN YOU THINK: A 7-Day Plan on Using the New Body...