On May 3, 2008, while Leslie Jeanne Denis and Frederick Harold Mueller, were hiking near Lake City, Colorado, Leslie died by drowning.
According with undersheriff Robert Burden, Fred Mueller told him that Leslie died by accident “as he took the picture, a bird flew by, the bluebird appeared to startle the dog and that as she was getting up, she suddenly started going backwards. And she did a swan dive, just like head and shoulders and just slides like mush into the channel”.
Hinsdale County sheriff Ron Bruce and undersheriff Robert Burden didn’t believe Fred Mueller’s story.
Fred Mueller had scratches on his face and an investigator found a pair of broken glasses belonging to Fred and what appeared to be signs of a struggle in the snow near the scene.
According with the autopsy report by doctor Jerry Gray, Leslie Mueller had no injuries despite her husband said she fell from a cliff about 17 feet above the creek. There was no blood on Leslie’s clothes and no damages.
Prosecutor Matthew Durkin said that the evidence suggested Dr Leslie Mueller fought with her husband and that she was then held down in the water by him.
Mueller wasn’t the one to speak with the 911 operator.
Meuller left Leslie in the water and went to Justin Sparks’ home; Sparks, who had no knowledge of what had just happened to Leslie, called 911 and Fred Mueller didn’t speak with the operator, not even in second place, to give further details. Often people with a guilty knowledge prefer to delegate somebody else to call for help not to face the stress of a deceptive call not. Mueller too chose not to risk to be caught in his lies by the 911 operator.
Justin Sparks, the neighbour that called 911 and found Leslie’s lifeless body was suspicious of Fred Mueller behaviour, during the trial he said: “He would act kind of frantic, one second, and then, the next second, he would… he was talking to me very nonchalance and normal almost felt like he was acting more than being sincere. I just started getting a kind of bad feeling about the whole situation”. Sparks described to the jury a way of acting of people with a guilty knowledge, Fred Mueller was unable to act as a grieving husband because, after the death of his wife, his real and only feeling was relief.
Few hours after his wife death Fred Mueller told undersheriff Burden that he and Leslie had sex the morning of May 3; ten months after, during an interview with a a CBI agent, Mueller said that a “good autopsy” on his wife’s body could have revealed that they had sex in the morning she died. This revelation is sensitive, it opens to a planned murder not to a second degree murder. The morning of the murder, Fred Mueller made love to his wife on purpose, to show the coroner their marriage wasn’t in trouble.
In 2012 Frederick Mueller was charged with murdering his wife, Dr. Leslie Jeanne Denis Mueller by prosecutor Matthew Durkin. The trial ended in a mistrial.
Frederick Mueller had been tried a second time for the murder of his wife, Leslie, few months later (prosecutor Ryan Brackley) but the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on the defendant’s guilt again and the judge declared a mistrial.
Here some excerpts of a conversation Fred Mueller had with sheriff Ron Bruce in the kitchen of his house:
What we look for in the following experts is for Fred Mueller to tell the truth about what happened to his wife Leslie and to issue a reliable denial.
We look for him to say freely “I didn’t kill my wife Leslie” and “I am telling the truth”. This would be the “wall of truth”. The “wall of truth” is an impenetrable psychological barrier that often leads innocent people to few words, as the subject has no need to persuade anyone of anything.
We begin every statement analysis expecting truth, and it is the unexpected that confronts us as possibly deceptive.
Fred Mueller: (unintelligible) you know (unintelligible) it’s all my fault, we had a camera, we started taking photos, she took fews of me, I took some of her… uhh… I suggested that she take a picture with her dog and it’s… it’s a border collies its very… it’s an extremely scary dog she is… looks at me, I take a picture… uhm… I think (unintelligible), I think… uhh… like a bird, kind of floaters by… the dog just jumps out and she is turning and… and its like… its like her feet went out from under…
“you know” shows an acute awareness of the audience.
“it’s all my fault” sounds as an embedded admission.
Note the non words “uhh” and “uhm” and the pauses he used to take time to answer.
When someone is speaking of an event in the past, it is expected the subject to use past tense language. Present tense language is deemed unreliable. Deceptive people often use the present counting on us to interpret and assume that they are speaking of the past event.
Mueller showed us to be able to use the past tense as in the first part of his narrative he spoke at the past tense “we started”, “she took”, “I took” and “I suggested” but then, he suddenly shifted to the present tense making the second part of his narrative unreliable.
In these sentences, “she is… looks at me, I take a picture… uhm… I think (unintelligible), I think… uh… like a bird kind of floaters by, but the dog just jumps out and she is turning and… and its like… its like her feet went out from under…” Mueller sounds vague and unreliable due to the two “I think”, to the “like” and the two “it’s like”.
It’s like… it just happened in slow motion in front of me, she falls forward and… and, I remember, launching forward to try to… to try to get to her but I was probably 5, 6, 7 feets from her, it looked to me like she just did a swam dive and… and lands on the rocks right by the water, just… just like head and shoulders and… and just crumples and just… just slides like mush into the… into the… the little channel and I’m screaming her name, I’m hollering. I should had jump in.
Everything Mueller says at the present tense is unreliable and tells us that he is not recalling from experiential memory.
Again “It’s like”, “to try”, “probably”, “it looked to me like” sound vague and story telling.
“I remember” is unnecessary wording whereas in truthful accounts people can only tell us what they remember. This may be an indication that Fred, previously, told us what was not from his experiential memory.
Note how many times Mueller uses the word “just”. “just” is a dependent word used in comparison. Its communication is found in dependence upon another thought. We can assume that, while building his unreliable story, Mueller was thinking about what really took place.
She’s moving with the current. I don’t know what I’m doing and the next thing I know, she’s out of sight there and I can’t really see where I can get to her, she’s just face down in the water, head first going downstream.
Mueller is still speaking at the presente tense of a past event, his narrative is unreliable.
“I don’t know what I’m doing” is in the negative and unnecessary to say, he is using this sentence to fill his unreliable narrative.
“and the next thing I know” is a clear example of temporal lacunae, a sentence often used by deceptive people to jump over time, a signal of withholding information.
“I can’t really see” is not only in the negative but is weak, the options are two: someone can see or can’t see, the word “really” opens to the fact that he could see something.
When Mueller says “she’s just face down in the water” he is comparing his wife being face down in the water with another position.
Fred Mueller: I didn’t do anything and I’m not at all afraid of the truth.
“I didn’t do anything” is an unreliable denial. Mueller is unable or unwilling to say “I didn’t kill Leslie” which was expected.
A reliable denial is found in the free editing process, not in the parroted language and has 3 components:
1. the pronoun “I”
2. past tense verb “did not” or “didn’t”
3. accusation answered
If a denial has more than 3 or less than 3 components, it is no longer reliable.
“I did not kill Leslie” followed by “I told the truth” while addressing the denial, it is more than 99% likely to be true. A deceptive person will alter his denial to avoid a direct lie.
Saying “I didn’t do anything” Mueller violated component 3 of the reliable denial.
The second sentence “and I’m not at all afraid of the truth” is not only in the negative but he fells the need to add “at all”, we can assume that the truth is sensitive to him.
According with sheriff Bruce, Mueller, during one of the first interview, suddendly started talking about family insurance policies.
Fred Mueller: We had a big insurance policy on the two of us. It was strictly for inheritance, so what in the world would it have been of benefit to me for the reality is there was no reason for my wife to die that benefitted me, no monetary benefit.
An innocent has not reason to speak spontaneously about motives for murder.
“there was no reason for my wife to die that benefitted me, no monetary benefit” is distancing language, Fred Mueller himself introduces the topic but is unable or unwilling to say not only “I didn’t kill my wife Leslie” neither “there was no reason for me to kill my wife, no monetary benefit”.
According with undersheriff Burden, Fred Mueller also said: ” You know, I don’t have any reason to kill my wife. I don’t have any motive. I don’t have a girlfriend. We love each other very much”.
When Mueller, without being asked, says “I don’t have any reason to kill my wife. I don’t have any motive. I don’t have a girlfriend. We love each other very much” he shows a need to pre-empt the question to explain something that an innocent wouldn’t have any need to explain.
Note that “I don’t have any reason to kill my wife. I don’t have any motive. I don’t have a girlfriend” not only are in the negative but at the present tense:
- There is no reason to report things in the negative while speaking freely, that’s why everything is said in the negative is double important to us and deemed sensitive. This is not only an alert for deception but opens to the possibility that Mueller is telling us the opposite of what it is.
- Mueller keeps speaking at the present, he is not telling us what he was thinking before the death of his wife but just what he is thinking right now that the allegations are upon him.
“We love each other very much” is sensitive, the presence of “very much” shows a need to persuade.
Most of the murderers often sound uninhibited, naive, aggressive or sarcastic, they choose to substitute a reliable denial with rage, sarcasm or whatever, counting on us to interpret and assume that they are denying the allegations. Mueller, incredibly, said to undersheriff Burden “If you didn’t have a badge and gun, I’d fucking beat the shit out of you” and “That’s bullshit. You’re asking me how many times a day did I have sex, but you won’t tell me if you found any damn glasses”.
Fred Mueller: It’s that kind of crap that makes me think you’re not believing a word I’m telling you. I’m just sticking my head in a noose. I didn’t do anything.
Mueller is not only unable or unwilling to deny his involvement in Leslie’s death but he accepts a possible guilt, something that is not expected from an innocent. There is no consequence to issue a reliable denial about any false allegation but Mueller is unable to defend himself. “I didn’t do anything” is an unreliable denial.
One of Leslie and Frederick Mueller’s daughter reported to Dateline her father’s first call after the death of her mother:
“He said: I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.
And I said: What happened?
And he said: We were hiking, I tried to take a picture, she felt.
I remember saying: Does she is going to be OK?
And he said: No, she is death.
And he said: I’m so… so sorry Mindy”.
Note the initial “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry” and the final “I’m so… so sorry”.
“I’m sorry” is often an indicator of a form of regret that usually enters the language of the guilty.
Frederick Mueller deceptively witheld information and fabricated reality.
Mueller was not only unable or unwilling to deny his involvement in his wife Leslie’s death but he accepted a possible guilt, something that an innocent doesn’t accept.
He has guilty knowledge of what happened to his wife Leslie.
Undersheriff Robert Burden said to correspondent Peter Van Sant: “I say it was not an accident, I say it was a cold blooded murder”.
I agree. Frederick Mueller got away with murder.
Ursula Franco, MD and criminologist