Analysis of Gerard Baden-Clay’s emergency call

Gerard and Allison Baden-Clay

On April 20, 2012, at 7:15 a.m., Gerard Robert Baden-Clay (September 9, 1970) reported his wife Allison June Dickie (July 1, 1968) missing from their home at 593 Brookfield Road, Brookfield, Queensland, Australia.

On April 30, 2012, Allison’s body was found by a canoeist at Kholo Creek, Anstead, about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from the Baden-Clay home in Brookfield. 

On June 13, 2012, Gerard Baden-Clay was charged with his wife murder and interfering with a corpse. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On July 15, 2014, he was found guilty of murdering Allison and given a life sentence with a non-parole period of fifteen years.

On December 8, 2015, his conviction was downgraded to manslaughter by the Queensland Court of Appeal. 

In August 2016, the High Court of Australia re-instated the murder conviction after the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions appealed against the downgrade.

ANALYSIS:

The context: Gerard Baden-Clay, a 42 years-old man, called the emergency number to report his wife Allison missing. We hold to the expectation that he will ask for help for his wife. 

Operator: Go ahead Telstra.

Telstra operator: 2-5-3-9-6-0.

Operator: Thank you. Police Emergency. What’s your location?

Gerard Baden-Clay: Ah… good morning, Brookfield.

The first think we noted is that Gerard Baden-Clay’s call begins with a pause. This is unexpected since we assume that he would require no pre-thought to give his location to the operator. “Ah” is a pause to think, indicating sensitivity.  Why does he need to stall for time to think?

Next, “Good morning”, a greeting.

Ingratiation Factor, a form of manipulation. Why does he show a need to ingratiate himself with the operator? 

We only analysed the pause “Ah” and the word “good morning” and already found two sensitivity indicators. 

Operator: Whereabout in Brookfield, sir?

Gerard Baden-Clay: Ah… 5-9-3 Brookfield Road, Brookfield.

Note the pause “Ah”, again, we note that Gerard Baden-Clay has a need to pause and think of his answers. Why he had the need to stall for time to choose his words? Was he caught off guard by an unexpected question? Was he expecting to answer “What’s your emergency?” rather than “What’s your location?”? It could be an indicator of script. Script indicates a need to withhold information.

Operator: And what’s happening there?

Gerard Baden-Clay: Uhm… I… I don’t want to be alarmist. I tried the 1-3-1 number but uhm… it went on forever.

Note that Baden-Clay doesn’t get to the point with this answer. Often guilty callers seek to mitigate their stress by delay. 

Note the pauses “Uhm” and the stuttering “I”. In Statement Analysis, this is called the “stuttering I of anxiety”. Gerard Baden-Clay should be highly efficient at using this pronoun since he is not a stutterer. The question that produce the stuttering “I” is sensitive to him.

Operator: Yeah.

Gerard Baden-Clay: (inaudible) my wife isn’t home. Uhm (inaudible) I don’t know where she is.

Note that Gerard Baden-Clay does not ask for help for his wife.

Note that “my wife” is a Incomplete Social Introduction, it has two of the three components we look for: the pronoun “my”, the title “wife”, not the name “Allison”. 

In Statement Analysis, the Social Introduction, in context, can give insight into the quality of a relationship. Usually, an incomplete social introduction is a signal of a poor relationship. A complete social introduction is not always expected, due to urgency. In this case we note that Gerard Baden-Clay lost time to say “Uhm… I… I don’t want to be alarmist. I tried the 1-3-1 number but uhm… it went on forever” before answering and saying “my wife”.

When Gerard Baden-Clay says “my wife isn’t home” and “I don’t know where she is” I believe him. This doesn’t exclude that he could have killed her and disposed of her body, he could be able to say “I don’t know where she is” if he disposed of her body in a place where the body can move.

Allison Baden-Clay’s body was found in a creek, that’s why he was able to say “I don’t know where she is”.

Operator: Okay.

Gerard Baden-Clay: (inaudible)

Operator: When… when did you last see her, sir?

Gerard Baden-Clay: Uhm (inaudible) last night, when she went to bed uhm… (inaudible) and I went to bed. And… I got up ah… this morning and she… she wasn’t there. And that’s not unusual she…. she often goes for a walk in the morning.

The pauses “Uhm”, “uhm”, “ah” and the stuttering “she” prove that Gerard Baden-Clay is on guard. The need to pause to think of the answer tells us the question is sensitive to him. 

Note that he refers to his wife Allison as “she”. 

Gerard Baden-Clay says “she went to bed”, “I went to bed”, and “I got up”. 

Note “And” between “I went to bed and I got up”.“And” is a bridge between two periods of time, the information regarding what happened into between are missing. 

Note that Gerard Baden-Clay not only didn’t introduce his wife by her name, but never used the pronoun “we”, that shows unity and cooperation. 

Operator: Yeah.

Gerard Baden-Clay: Uhm… I’ve texted her and called her a number of times. I think she has her phone with her.

Note “Uhm”, a pause to think.

Note that he refers to his wife Allison as “her” and “she”, never as “Allison”.

Operator: Yeah.

Gerard Baden-Clay: Uhm… but uhm… and…

Note the pauses and the “and”. 

The operator interrupted Baden-Clay while he was stalling after the “and”.  

 Operator: What time does she normally get back when she goes for a walk?

This is not a good answer because allows Gerard Baden-Clay to speak about what his wife “normally” did, not about what she did that morning.

Gerard Baden-Clay: Well, this morning she… she was planning to… she has a seminar in the city, so she was planning to leave by, you know, around 7:00…

“Well” is a pause.

Note that he refers to his wife Allison as “she”, again. Note the stuttering “she”, again.

“You know” is an habit of speech and, like any habit, we note where it appears and where it doesn’t. “You know” indicates that Gerard Baden-Clay is acutely aware of the interlocutor’s presence at this point, with this question.

Note that the question is not answered because probably she wasn’t so regular to go for a walk.

On April 20, 2012, at 8:18 a.m., few minutes after the emergency call, Gerard Baden Clay was interviewed by police on this theme:

SGT J.: How often does she go walking?

BADEN-CLAY: I was going to say regularly, but it’s intermittently, you know, uhm… and, if possible, she’ll get up at about 5.00. That was easier in the summer [INDISTINCT] she was [INDISTINCT].

During his first interview with police, Gerard Baden-Clay was asked about two marks on his face.
BADEN-CLAY: “Cut myself shaving”.
Note the missing pronoun “I” which reduces commitment to the statement.

Operator: Okay.

Gerard Baden-Clay:… and uhm… she’s not back home yet.

When a sentence begins with “And”, it is an indication of connection; in between the connection is missing information. 

Note “Uhm”, a pause to think. 

Baden-Clay is on extreme guard to withhold information.  

Operator: Okay, alright. And what’s your wife…?

Gerard Baden-Clay: (inaudible) I’m… I’m now driving the streets. My… my father come over and… to look after my children.

Note the stuttering “I’m”, a signal of increase in anxiety. 

Note that he doesn’t say “I’m driving the streets to look for her” but “I’m now driving the streets”, he didn’t say that he is searching or looking for his wife. If he does not tell us that he is searching, we cannot say it for him. 

Note “now”, there is no reason to add “now” to “I’m driving the streets”, is he comparing something?

“My… my father come over and… to look after my children” are unnecessary information. Why he doesn’t focus upon his wife and ask for help for her?

Operator: Yeah. Okay. So what was yo… what’s your name first of all?

Gerard Baden-Clay: I’m sorry. Uhm…… Gerard, G-E-R-A-R-D.

Please note that ”I’m sorry” has entered into Gerard Baden-Clay’s language. We note these words any time and in any place they appear, for whatever reason because they often enter the language of the guilty as an indicator of a form of regret, for what they have done or for being caught.

Note the pause “Uhm” before saying his name. “Uhm” is unexpected since we assume that Baden-Clay would require no pre-thought to give his name to the operator.  Why the question of his name is “sensitive” to him? Was he caught off guard by an unexpected question? Was he unprepared for going off script?

While Allison was still missing, a journalist asked Gerard Baden-Clay: Was she upset before she went away?

Gerard Baden-Clay answered: No. And the police…. I’m trying to help the police as much as I can, we all have everything we’ve got so. Thank you, I’m sorry.

When a sentence starts with “And” there are missing information.

Note that Baden-Clay shifts from “I” to “we” as to psychologically hide in the crowd or spread guilt around to others. 

Note “I’m sorry”, a red flag for possible guilt, again.

Operator: And your last name, Gerard?

Gerard Baden-Clay: Baden-Clay, B-A-D-E-N.

Operator: Yeah.

Gerard Baden-Clay: Hyphen C-L-A-Y.

Operator: And what’s your wife’s name?

He has to be asked his wife’s name.

Gerard Baden-Clay: Allison, with two Ls.

Now focus on how he refers to his wife Allison after he gave her name to the operator.

Operator: And same surname?

Gerard Baden-Clay: Same surname.

Operator: Okay. And how old is Allison?

Gerard Baden-Clay: Uhm…uhm… forty… four!?

Note the pauses.

Operator: Okay. Clay, you didn’t see her before (inaudible) she got up this morning, so (inaudible)?

It’s easier and less stressful to lie in response to such a “yes or no” question. The operator asks this question in the negative. It could be a signal that the operator wasn’t sure of what Gerard Baden-Clay told her before.

Gerard Baden-Clay: Ya.

Operator: Okay. Alright. And what’s her mobile number?

Gerard Baden-Clay: 0-4-0-1

Operator: Yeah.

Gerard Baden-Clay: 1-4-9

Operator: Yeah.

Gerard Baden-Clay: 0-1-3

Operator: 0-1-3. Okay. Alright. And how tall is your wife?

Gerard Baden-Clay: Uhm… (inaudible) uhm… about five, six, something like that, I think.

Note the pauses.

Operator: Okay. And what colour hair’s she got?

Gerard Baden-Clay: She just had it done last night. It’s sort of a blondie, brownie, reddish sort of (inaudible).

Note that Gerard Baden-Clay did not use his wife name except when asked by the operator. This is distancing language. Why would he distance himself from his wife Allison? This is concerning. 

Operator: Yep. And w… how long is it?

Gerard Baden-Clay: Uhm… shoulder length.

Operator: Shoulder length. Okay. What I’ll do, I’ll going to put a broadcast on for the police to keep a look out for your wife. Uhm.. are you going to go back home? ‘Cause if…

Gerard Baden-Clay: I… I…

Note the stuttering “I”, a signal of increase in anxiety. 

Operator: We’ll get police to come and see you.

Gerard Baden-Clay: I… I need to go home and…

Note the stuttering “I”, a signal of increase in anxiety. When a person lies, this causes internal conflicts that creates emotional stress.

Operator: Yeah.

Gerard Baden-Clay:… get the kids ready for school.

Has he a need to portray himself as a loving father? Is he fishing for sympathy? 

While Allison was still missing, Gerard Baden-Clay, interviewed by a journalist outside his house, said: I’m trying to look after my children at the moment, they’ve got three young girls and we… we really trust that police are doing everything they can to find my wife and we just hope that she will came home soon.

Note how he brought up his daughters.

Note also how he moved from “I” to “we”. The guilty does not like being psychologically alone.

Note “we really trust that police are doing everything they can to find my wife”, he qualified “trust” with”really”, showing a needless emphasis and making it sensitive. 

Operator: Yeah. Alright Gerard. I’ll get police to come and see you. Okay. What’s the best contact number for you?

Gerard Baden-Clay: 0-400.

Operator: Yeah.

Gerard Baden-Clay: 4-5-6

Operator: Yeah.

Gerard Baden-Clay: 100.

Operator: Okay. Just give us a call back if she hasn’t returned.

Gerard Baden-Clay: I will.

Operator: Before police get there. Okay?

Gerard Baden-Clay: I will.

Operator: Alright.Thanks Gerard. Bye, bye.

Gerard Baden-Clay: Bye.

Note that Gerard Baden-Clay’s call begins and ends with a greeting. This is the Ingratiation Factor. In emergency calls like this one, urgency is presupposed, therefore politeness is unexpected, in any form. We now consider that the need to ingratiate himself with the operator could suggest guilt or guilty knowledge of what happened to his wife.

ANALYSIS CONCLUSION: 

Deception Indicated. 

Statement Analysis indicates that Gerard Baden-Clay is withholding information about the disappearance of his wife Allison. 

He has guilty knowledge of what happened to his wife.