The murders of Blake Dickus and Chynna Dickus

Blake Michael and Chynna Lynne Dickus

Franklin, Indiana. On the 24 of July 2006, Blake Dickus, 10, and his stepmom Chynna Dickus, 26, were brutally murdered inside the house Chynna shared with her husband, Blake’s father, Stephen Sean Dickus. 

The last person who saw Chynna and Blake alive was Sean Dickus, he had lunch with them, then went back to work. 

Stephen Sean Dickus also discovered the two bodies. He arrived home, then several witnesses saw him screaming and vomiting.

Blake had been beaten and stabbed, the coroner found signs of asphyxiation and blunt force trauma. Chynna had been stabbed multiple times.

At home, detectives found no sign of forced entry.

The case is still unsolved.

In 2015, Blake’s mother, Christina Leanne Whittemore and Blake’s father, Stephen Sean Dickus spoke to Crime Watch Daily‘s Andrea Isom about the case.

Christina Leanne Whittemore: “I could hardly pull down their street, there was like cop car after police car and I was, like, you know, What is going on? I’m trying to focus, I looked down and I see yellow caution tape all around and I’m, like: “Oh my gosh! That’s their house!” And there was a coroner’s van, the garage door was up and I just went running down the sidewalk yelling Blake’s name, he (a homicide detective) stopped me at the driveway, he said… he started: “No. Who are you?”. And I’m, like: “I’m Blake’s mom. Where is my son? Where… where is at? What hospital? Just tell me right now”. And he just couldn’t even look at me and I go: “Don’t tell me that (inaudible) just, where is my baby?”. And he just shook his head and I… I just fell (…) He had to be begging for his life, you know, I wonder, was he asking for me?… you know, I mean, what my child went through (…) I don’t know how somebody can do this and continue living with themselves. Why can’t they come forward? Please, our family needs justice”.

Christina Leanne Whittemore and Blake Michael Dickus

Analysis of the interview Stephen Sean Dickus released to correspondent Andrea Isom in 2015:

  • Stephen Sean Dickus: I am faulting by that (being a suspect), I am on the phone so, you know, finger pointed at me, like, I can’t understand that kind of… maybe, we’re drawn to a shell a little bit, God, it was very difficult.

“You know” is a signal that Sean is acutely aware of the interviewer’s presence at this point of the interview.

Sean Dickus uses the word “like” to avoid exactness. 

“I can’t understand that kind of…” is self censoring, an incomplete sentence is an indication of suppressed information. 

Note the word “God”Divinity, within an interview, is a red flag for deception and shows a desire to persuade the interviewer using “God” as a witness.

  • Andrea Isom: You loved your family?

We don’t know what induced the journalist to ask such a question because we don’t have the entire interview but we know that she would never asked Blake’s mother the same question, all the love for her son and the pain for the lost were in her words.

  • Stephen Sean Dickus: I did… and I do… uhm.
  • Andrea Isom: What happened that day?

Great question.

  • Stephen Sean Dickus: Well, I went home for lunch that day and Blake was getting excited about going home because he was gonna go to the movie with his mom and… uhm… you know, I just (inaudible) I can remember rubbing the back of his head and giving him a kiss and, you know, (inaudible) “Goodbye”, I left the garage and I pulled out and Chynna was at the mailbox and I gave her, you know, kiss I said “Goodbye” to her and that’s… that’s the last thing I remember.

“I remember“, in an open statement, is unnecessary wording considering that, in truthful accounts, people can only tell us what they remember, therefore is a signal of suppressed memory.  

Note “giving him a kiss and, you know, (inaudible) “Goodbye” and “I gave her, you know, kiss I said “Goodbye”. Within a statement of a familiar homicide, “The Kiss Goodbye” is often a linguistic signal that points to the time of death, or near the time of death.

Note “I left the garage”. 

The word “left” is unnecessary when used as a connecting verb, if present is an indication of missing information at that period of time. 

Sean doesn’t say “I went to work” but “I left the garage”, this means that his mind is still there, in the garage but he doesn’t say what happened before leaving the house. “Left” represents one of the two highest level of sensitivity in Statement Analysis and here is crucial because is close to another indicator of sensitiveness “The Kiss Goodbye” that, in domestic homicides, usually points to the time of death.

“uhm… you know” is a pause to think, an indicator that Sean Dickus needs to focus on what to say because the question is sensitive to him.

“that’s… that’s the last thing I remember” is a way to stop the flow of information either from the subject or through questioning. This is often seen in guilty statements in which the subject does not want any more information to be revealed about the topic.

Few days after the murders, in an interview with Fox59, Sean Dickus said: “I went home for lunch, I spent that time with him and… it was time for me to go back to work so, you know, I left him and they were all happy”.

Note that “I left” is also present here.

Note that Sean Dickus didn’t say “We spent time together” where the word “we” indicates unity, closeness, but “I spent time with him”, where the word “with” creates distance.  

On July 2007, a year after the murder, Sean Dickus, in an interview, said:

“I was here for lunch. I got to rub the back of my son’s head for the last time and tell him goodbye. And I got to hug my wife and tell her goodbye as well. So, you know, I’ll never forget those moments, that last lunch that I had here, and just a few short hours later, I came home to a nightmare that just wasn’t real. I walked into my home and realized there was a problem immediately“. 

Note the presence of the two “goodbye”.

Note the word “problem“, he considers the double murders of his son and wife, simply a “problem“. This is minimization. Minimization is a distancing measure, it’s a way to avoid of dealing with negative emotions by reducing the importance and impact of events that give rise to those emotions, it’s a common strategy used by guilty people to deal with feelings of guilt. 

The word “immediately” speaks of a delay.

Few days after the murders, in an interview with Fox59, Sean Dickus said: I pull in the garage and I… I stumbled upon… uhm… the scene… boy… was… it was… not pleasant… uhm… I know, straighten, right away, at first, that there was something wrong”.

Note “I pull” and “I know”, he speaks at the present tense of a past event, this is unreliable. He speaks at the present tense because he is not speaking from his experiential memory.

The presence of a stuttering “I” discloses increase of tension which indicates an increase in anxiety. 

Note the pauses to think about his words.

Note that Sean not to describe the scene, tells us what it was not: “it was not pleasant”. Truthful people tells what happened, Thought, felt, not what did not happen, nor what was not thought or felt. When someone tells us what did not happen, or what was not thought we should not only be on alert for deception, but the possibility that the person is telling you the opposite of what it appears.

  • Stephen Sean Dickus: I came home to… to a horror.
  • Andrea Isom: What did you see?

Another great question.

  • Stephen Sean Dickus: Well, I’m… I’m just gonna live with that, it was the worst think imaginable, I can tell that.

Note that Dickus is self focused, he doesn’t speak about what his son and wife went through as Blake’s mother, Christine, did: “He had to be begging for his life, you know, I wonder, was he asking for me?… you know, I mean, what my child went through” but about himself.

  • Stephen Sean Dickus: I wasn’t aware that, you know, until later on, after the fact, that there burglaries going on around the subdivision or anything of that nature… uhm… it was after the fact that I found out those things.

Note that Sean Dickus is unable or unwilling to say words as “murders” or  “homicides”, he chooses the word “the fact” to avoid of dealing with negative emotions

  • Stephen Sean Dickus: We didn’t have any… anyone that didn’t like us (inaudible), we were always happy, we did nothing but enjoying serving others and I don’t understand.

Sean uses the pronoun “We” and “us”, why? China and Blake were killed, he wasn’t even attacked but his desire is to be placed on the side of the victims. 

We didn’t have any…” is self censoring. Sean Dickus is unable or unwilling to even say the word “enemies”.

“we did nothing but enjoying serving others” is Virtue Signaling, an indicator of projected guilt. He is manipulative.

  • Stephen Sean Dickus: This is… uhm… being honest (inaudible), is the first time I’ve looked a video of Blake (inaudible) almost 9 years, so it’s… uh… 

Words as “honestly” or “being honest” are often associated with deception.


Deception Indicated

Sean Dickus has guilty knowledge of what happened to his son, Blake, and wife, Chynna.

In an interview, released a year after the murder, Sean Dickus said: Because I know there’s somebody out there that knows something and they’re just not saying anything.

Note that Sean Dickus is unable to say: “out there there is somebody that killed my family” because he is the one who murdered Blake and Chynna.

Note that Sean Dickus is unable or unwilling to condemn morally the author of the crime, he is unable to call him names, moreover, he is even unable to call him “a murderer” because he is the one who committed the crime.

Sean Dickus himself told us that at first he attacked his son and then his wife. He got enraged with his son probably because he was too “excited about going home because he was gonna go to the movie with his mom” and beaten him, Chynna intervened and he stabbed both. 

In the interview released a year after the murder, Sean Dickus also said: “I can’t put words to that. It’s just the worst imaginable thing that you could go through”.

Note that he says: “It is the worst imaginable thing that you could go through” not “that I could go through” as expected. The use of “you” is distancing language that indicates a form of deception. In other words: Dickus is unable to use the pronoun “I” because he would lie and, to avoid the stress of lying, he distance himself from the reality using “you” instead of “I”. 

In the same interview Sean Dickus spoke about living in the house of the murders: “I feel comfort here and I feel safe here and it seems to wrap its arms around me”.

I believe him, he feel safe at home because he is the one who killed Chynna and Blake.

Few days after the murders, in an interview with Fox59, Sean Dickus said: “I’m doing… I’m doing well… uhm… I get my strength from The Lord, Jesus Christ, every day… uhm… it’s hard in the morning when you get up but… but when I wake up, I just start praying for peace and… and it comes and it allows me to be strong right now”.

Note the pauses to think.

Note that the focus is on him, “I’m doing well”, “I get my strength from the Lord”, “it allows me to be strong right now”.

Note the reference to “The Lord, Jesus Christ”.

Note that he doesn’t speak of himself when he says: it’s hard in the morning when you get up”. The use of “you” is distancing language that indicates a form of deception.

Note that he prays for peace, not for justice, because he is the murderer.

On November 13, 2001 Jennifer Blagg, 34, and her daughter Abby, 6, disappeared from their home in Grand Junction, Colorado. On June 4, 2002, Jennifer’s remains were found in a landfill, she had been killed by a gunshot wound in the face. Abby’s body has never been found. Michael Blagg was convicted of murdering his wife Jennifer in Mesa County in 2004, ten years later, a judge threw out his original conviction because a juror lied on her jury questionnaire about being a victim of domestic violence. Blagg was re-tried in Jefferson County and on April 5, 2018, for the second time, a jury convicted him of killing his wife Jennifer. He faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

During an interview, Michael Blagg said: “This has been as draining and physically demanding as anything I’ve ever done in my life, its truly a horrible situation and I know that The Lord will bring me through this and The Lord will bring them home. Anyone who knows anything about my wife and my daughter, I pray that you’ll come forward. Just allow them to come home that’s all I can ask, please allow them to come home”.

Note the focus is on himself.

Note the reference to “The Lord”, twice. 

One of the detectives in the Blagg’s case said that Michael Blagg had told him that in the morning of December 19, the day of his wife and daughter’s disappearance “as he left he went to give Jennifer a kiss and went upstairs and gave Abby a kiss Goodbye“.

About Sean Dickus vomiting at the murder scene:

Nausea and vomiting are classical responses to a prolonged stress. Stress can induce general trouble with the digestive system due to the physiological changes a body goes through.

Not only the victim of a sexual violence or of an aggression but also the perpetuator often shows the symptoms of the so called General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS), a physiological reaction to a stressful event.

GAS is a three-stage process that a body goes through when under stress: Alarm, Resistance and Exhaustion.

Alarm reaction stage: corticoids, adrenaline and noradrenaline are released to induce a a “fight-or-flight” response that allows the body to deal with the threat.

Resistance stage: at the end of a stressful situation, the body enters in a recovery phase to reach the pre stress state.

When the stress is prolonged, the body is unable to recover and continues to release corticoids, adrenaline and noradrenaline. Stomach and intestinal distresses like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and bloating are symptoms of this prolonged state of alert.

Exhaustion stage: when the stress is chronic a subject deals with symptoms like depression, anxiety and fatigue.

A murderer is in a prolonged state of alert because his/her fear of being caught.

About the result of the polygraph test:

Sean Dickus was administered a polygraph test and he passed, but, according to Peter Hyatt, a Statement Analyst and instructorThe cause of most errors in poligraphy is that the subject is given language that is not part of his personal, internal, subjective dictionary. When the polygraph is administered employing the subjective dictionary of the subject, is close to 100% fool-proof. When the examiner speaks on and on, the subject learns and uses his language; language of which there is no emotional connection and no historical, that is, subjective connection personally”.

Ursula Franco, MD and criminologist