Melinda Pleskovic murder: analysis of Jeffrey Scullin call to 911

Jeffrey Scullin Jr

On Oct.23, the day Melinda Pleskovic was killed, Jeffrey Scullin and Bruce Pleskovic called 911 almost at the same time.

Jeffrey Scullin Jr moved in Bruce and Melinda Pleskovic’s home since he fathered a daughter with their daughter Anna, around a year ago. 49-year-old Melinda Pleskovic, a mother-of-three, was a 6th-grade teacher for the Strongsville City Schools.

Dispatcher: 911 what’s the address of your emergency?

Jeffrey Scullin: Ahh… Somebody… somebody has been attacked in my house.

“Ahh” is a non word, an unexpected pause to think that shows that he is on guard. Scullin is stalling for time to think about his answer, this is sensitive.

He doesn’t ask for a specific help for the victim. This is not expected. 

Scullin knows the victim gender and her name but chooses the gender neutral “Somebody”. We expected him to say “my mother in law Melinda Pleskovic”. The lack of using the victim name and the fact that he omits the type of relation he had with her are distancing measures indicating a poor relationship and/or a need to distance himself from Melinda PLeskovic. 

“Somebody… somebody” is a repetition. A repetition indicates sensitivity.

“Somebody has been attacked” is passive. Passivity in language is used to conceal identity or responsibility. 

Scullin says “in my house”, this is not expected and sensitive, the house is Bruce and Melinda Pleskovic’s family home, he is a guest.

Dispatcher: Somebody has been what?

Jeffrey Scullin: Attacked! We just came home.

Sculling’s answer goes behind the question. We just came home” is unexpected. Scullin instead of asking for hep, tries to establish his own alibi using the pronoun “we” and the adverb “just”. The word “just” is a dependent word. This means its communication is found in dependence upon another thought. It is used in comparison. That he says “we just came home” is to compare “came” with something else. Note that he does not say who the “we” are.

Dispatcher: What’s the address?

Jeffrey Scullin: Aaah… 17784 Blazing Star drive.

Scullin is stalling for time to think about the answer, again.

Dispatcher: 17784 Blazing Star drive? They attacked who? Who was attacked?

Jeffrey Scullin: Ahh… aah… Mel Pleskovic, Mel Pleskovic was attacked.

Scullin is stalling for time, again.

“Mel Pleskovic. Mel Pleskovic…”, the name of the victim is sensitive to him due to the repetition.

“Mel Pleskovic was attacked” is passive. Passivity seeks to conceal identity and/or responsibility.  

Dispatcher: She was attacked by whom? Do you know?

This a compound question that allows the caller to choose which question to ask. “Do you know?” is a “Yes” or “No” question.

Jeffrey Scullin: She [unintelligible] No. We just came home. She’s on the kitchen floor. I took… I took her son and my daughter outside. Her husband is inside with her now.

Sculling is unable to answer with a simple “No”.

He tries to minimize his own involvement for the second time, using the pronoun “We” and the adverb “just”. This is important to him, “just” sounds alibi building to us and “We” sounds a desire to hide in the crowd. 

Since now we can tell that Scullin’s priority is not to answer to the operator, his priority is to convince her that he “just came home” and that he wasn’t alone. 

“I took… I took her son and my daughter outside. Her husband is inside with her now” are unnecessary information, Scullin shows a desire to appear a “good guy” who takes care of the children. Behind the desire to be seen as a “good guy” there is a “bad guy”.

Dispatcher: So, the husband attacked her?

This is a “Yes” or “No” question.

Jeffrey Scullin: No, no, no. We just came home. We just came home.

He answers with a repeated “No” showing us that the question is sensitive to him.
Scullin is trying to establish his own alibi repeating for the third and fourth time: “We just came home. We just came home”, this is a key. 

Dispatcher: You came home and found her injured on the floor?

Jeffrey Scullin: We found her in the kitchen. She’s not moving. I… I took the kids and I walked outside, I didn’t know what to do [unintelligible].

Scullin is using the pronoun “We”.

The presence of a stuttering “I” discloses tension and anxiety (first time) and tells us that the question is sensitive to him.

For the second time he gives unnecessary information to the 911 operator: “I took the kids and I walked outside, I didn’t know what to do [unintelligible]”, his desire is to appear the “good guy” who takes care of the children, again.

Note that he speaks freely in the negative, he says “I didn’t know what to do [unintelligible]”, this is sensitive and double important to us.

Dispatcher: Did she look like she was beaten, or what?

Jeffrey Scullin: She… she has blood all around her. I didn’t… didn’t wacht. I just grab… I grabbed the child and left [unintelligible].

Three repetitions and three pauses show that the question is sensitive to him.

I just grab… I grabbed the child and left [unintelligible]” are the same unnecessary information he gave to the operator before, the focus should be Melinda Pleskovic not what Jeffrey Scullin does. One of Scullin’s goals is to appear the “good guy” who takes care of the children. Only someone with a guilty knowledge has a psychological need to be seen in a positive light. This is also consistent with manipulation.

Dispatcher: Ok, hold on a moment, don’t hung up, sir, don’t hung up.

Dispatcher: Sir, is there a dog at the house?

Jeffrey Scullin: Ooh…yes.

Dispatcher: May be the dog got out, does she have a black coat?

Jeffrey Scullin: Yeah, yeah.

Dispatcher: Ok, ok. I’m going to send medics, don’t hung up, is she conscious? Do you know?

Jeffrey Scullin: I… I don’t know, Bruce… Bruce is inside.

A stuttering “I” (second time) that tell us that the question is sensitive to him.

Dispatcher: Ok, ok, hold on.

Jeffrey Scullin: [unintelligible] we have two small kids [unintelligible] outside.

He gives the same unnecessary information about the kids to the 911 operator for the fourth time, he is fishing for sympathy, his goal is to appear the “good guy” who takes care of the children.

Dispatcher: I’m gonna get [unintelligible], hold on a moment.

Dispatcher: Sir? Hi, ok.

Jeffrey Scullin: Ya.

Dispatcher: All right, you have a medical employees responding, okay?

Jeffrey Scullin: There is a lot of blood.

“There is a lot of blood” could even mean “She is death, there is nothing to do, don’t hurry up”.

Dispatcher: There is a lot of blood? Ok, ok.

Jeffrey Scullin: I only [unintelligible] but I know here is a lot of blood.

The “lot of blood” is sensitive to him.

Dispatcher: How do you know this woman, is she…?

Jeffrey Scullin: I live here. I live here. She’s my fiancees’s mother.

He repeats “I live here” twice, making it sensitive. Only after repeating twice the unnecessary “I live here”, he answers the question about the victim, this is distancing language.

Dispatcher: Its your fiancees’s mother? Ok. Has she like had anybody trying to harm her? Harass her? Anything like that?

This is a “Yes” or “No” question.

Jeffrey Scullin: I… I… no, no.

Scullin’s answer is quite interesting, the question is sensitive to him, he is not just unable to answer with a “No” but he starts with a stuttering “I” to then censuring himself, deliberately suppressing information. 

According to police reports, Jeffrey Scullin Jr was the only person to witness two attempted break-ins, in August and four days before the murder, this is suggestive, or his goal was to distress Melinda Pleskovic or he was planning her homicide and cover up for months.

Dispatcher: Ok, do you have a dog that lives at the house? we just…

Jeffrey Scullin: We have two. We have two dogs.

A repetition.

Dispatcher: Are the dogs there or you don’t know?

Jeffrey Scullin: I don’t know. We just walked in the front door and we left.

Scullin goes behind the answer saying “We just walked in the front door”.

Till now he said four times “we just came home”, in this sentence he adds that they “walked in the front door” and “left”.

We note the word “left” because when it’s used as a connecting verb, is an indication of missing information. 

Dispatcher: We got a phone call from somebody who found a dog that belongs to your residence. That’s why I’m thinking the dogs got out, ok? What’s your name?

Jeffrey Scullin: Its right here, I have Kyle. My name is Jeff, Jeff Scullin.

First, Jeffrey answers to Bruce Pleskovic about his son, than says his name to the operator, “Jeff, Jeff…” is another repetition.

Dispatcher: How do you spell Scullin?

Jeffrey Scullin: S-C-U-L-L-I-N. Bruce… Bruce Plesckovic is here.

Another repetition: “Bruce… Bruce”.

Dispatcher: Who is talking to you right now?

Jeffrey Scullin: That’s Bruce Pleskovic, she is her husband, we just came home together.

Scullin’s need to say to the 911 operator “We just came home” is incessant, this is the sixth time (could be more, established that some words of Scullin’s answers are unintelligible). This is his priority. Scullin’s Priority is to show the operator that he cannot be involved nor possess any knowledge of what happened to Melinda Pleskovic because he “just came home” and he wasn’t alone. He is worried about himself, not about the victim. In this last case he adds the intensifiers “together” to “we just came home”, making this sentence even more sensitive.

Dispatcher: Ok, what’s Bruce telling you, is she conscious?

Jeffrey Scullin: She said: she has multiple stab wounds and he is on the phone with somebody else.

Note that, referring to Bruce, Scullin says “she” instead of “he”, is the victim in his mind?

Dispatcher: She got multiple stab wounds?!

Jeffrey Scullin: That’s what he just came out and told me.

Note the word “just”. The word “just” is a dependent word. This means its communication is found in dependence upon another thought. It is used in comparison. That he says “he just came out and told me” is to compare “told me” with something else.

Jeffrey Scullin: We hear the ambulance.

“We hear the ambulance” is not expected, “I hear the ambulance” was expected. Scullin’s need to hide in the crowd is key.

Dispatcher: Ok, they are coming, ok?

Jeffrey Scullin: Yeah, yeah, ok.

Dispatcher: Ok, sir.

Jeffrey Scullin: Ok, sweetie.

The word “sweetie” is not expected, this is more than an inappropriate politeness. This is a strong signal that Scullin feels the need to ingratiate himself with the operator (the Ingratiating Factor). Guilty person makes friends with 911 operators, police and journalists, to be seen in a positive light and reduce the suspicion upon them. 

Dispatcher: They think she got multiple stab wounds, all right? Ok. Who is Bruce, that’s her husband?

Jeffrey Scullin: That’s… that’s her husband, yes.

That’s… that’s” is a repetition that shows sensitivity. 

Dispatcher: Ok, do you see any like forced entry or anything to the house?

Jeffrey Scullin: I… I’m outside. The door is locked.

Another stuttering “I” (fourth time) that shows sensitivity to the question.

Dispatcher: The door was locked?

Jeffrey Scullin: The front door is locked. We [unintelligible] now.

Note that Scullin doesn’t say “Yes” or “The front door was locked” but “The front door is locked”, at the present. Note another “We” and the adverb “now” that speaks at the present too. Is he comparing an “open door” in the past with a “locked door” at the present?

Dispatcher: Ok, ok Jeff, ok. All right, we have [unintelligible] up coming ok? Do you [unintelligible], do you see him?

Jeffrey Scullin: I… I’ve seen an ambulance.

A stuttering “I”, again (fifth time).

Dispatcher: Ok, there are two males and two children, there are you and Bruce there correct? And two children?

Jeffrey Scullin: Yes, my Dolores [unintelligible] and Bruce… Bruce child [unintelligible] Kyle Pleskovic.

Note that he doesn’t introduce his daughter properly, the word “daughter” is missing. “my daughter Dolores” was expected, the social introduction speaks about the state of a relationship, an incomplete social introduction is a signal of a poor relationship. 

“Bruce… Bruce” is a repetition that shows sensitivity.

Dispatcher: Ok, all right, are you guys all outside right now?

Jeffrey Scullin: I’m outside, Bruce… Bruce is inside, I think, I don’t know where he is, he is running in and out, I don’t know [unintelligible].

Another repetition: “Bruce… Bruce…”.

Dispatcher: He is running in and out, I have a male, two males and two children right now.

Jeffrey Scullin: I’m outside by the red truck.

Dispatcher: Ok, ok you didn’t see any weapon or anything correct?

Jeffrey Scullin: I know I… I [unintelligible], I walked in and I grabbed the children and run outside.

Another stuttering “I” (sixth time) and here again he shows his desire to appear the “good guy” who takes care of the children.

Dispatcher: And you run, ok.

Jeffrey Scullin: I run outside, I called the police.

“I called the police”, here Scullin is using the personal pronoun “I” to appear in a good light. The truth is that both, him and Bruce, called police almost at the same time. 

Dispatcher: Ok, ok, Jeff, I’m staying with you until officers and the medics are there, ok? All right?

Jeffrey Scullin: All right.

Dispatcher: Did Bruce said if he think she is alive or he doesn’t know?

Jeffrey Scullin: I… I don’t know, she said: she has been stabbed [unintelligible].

A stuttering “I”, again (seventh time). 

Dispatcher: He ran out and then went back in?

Jeffrey Scullin: Yeah.

Dispatcher: Ok.

Jeffrey Scullin: He went looking for Kyle as well. 

Dispatcher: Who’s Kyle? Is that… Who’s Kyle?

Jeffrey Scullin: She is uhu… uhu… Bruce’s son, Bruce’s son.

Note that, referring to Bruce’s son, Scullin says “she” instead of “he”, is Melinda’s gender in his mind?

Scullin is stalling for time with two “uhh” and two pauses.

Bruce’s son, Bruce’s son” is another repetition. Most of the time he says “Bruce”, he says twice. The name “Bruce” is sensitive to the caller.

Dispatcher: And how old is Kyle?

Jeffrey Scullin: She is… I don’t know how old he is.

Note that, referring to Bruce’s son, Scullin says “she” instead of “he”, is Melinda’s gender in his mind?

Dispatcher: Is he an adult?

Jeffrey Scullin: Older, she is in high school, he is in hight school, he has Down (syndrome), he can’t speak [unintelligible].

Note that, referring to Bruce’s son, Scullin says “she” instead of “he”, again, is Melinda’s gender in his mind? He never asked for help for her, so why Melinda’s gender is in his mind? 

Dispatcher: He has Down?

We can hear another 911 operator at the phone with Bruce Pleskovic saying: “You said she is in the kitchen?”. 

Jeffrey Scullin: Something is wrong with her, I don’t know, I… I… (he is interrupted by the arrive of the police)

Note that, referring to Bruce’s son, Scullin says “her” instead of “him”, is Melinda’s gender in his mind?

A stuttering “I” for the eigth time. 

Dispatcher: Jeff?

Jeffrey Scullin is speaking with two officers: That’s Bruce Pleskovic, he owns the house [unintelligible]. We just came home, we [unintelligible] door step [unintelligible].

Scullin repeats to the officer “We just came home”, trying again to establish his own alibi and to hide in a crowd.

Jeffrey Scullin: Hello.

Dispatcher: Hi [unintelligible] an officer or the medics, the police are there?

Jeffrey Scullin: The police.

Dispatcher: Ok, Jeff, I’m going to hung up with you, ok? Who is Kyle? Kyle is… has down syndrome? Is he there?

Jeffrey Scullin: Yes, he is standing next to me.

Dispatcher: He is standing next to you, Kyle, ok, ok.

Jeffrey Scullin: [unintelligible]

Dispatcher: I just want to be sure we haven’t a missing male, ok. Just wait and talk to the officer Jeff, thank you for your help, ok? You did good, ok? And I m sorry for the circumstances, ok, all right.

Jeffrey Scullin: All right.

Dispatcher: Bye, bye.

Jeffrey Scullin: All right.

Analysis conclusion:

Deception Indicated.

Scullin’s relation with Melinda Pleskovic was a poor relationship.

He never asked for a specific help for the victim.

Scullin’s goals were to build an alibi and to appear a “good guy” because he is not.

Scullin has guilty knowledge of what happened to his mother in law.

On Oct. 31, few days after this phone call (Oct. 23) Jeffrey Scullin Jr was arrested for the aggravated murder of Melinda Pleskovic. He is being held on $1 million bail. On October 28, he served as a pallbearer at Melinda’s funeral, the same day he was set to marry her daughter Anna.

According to police reports, Jeffrey Scullin Jr was the only person to witness two attempted break-ins at the Pleskovic’s home, in August and four days before the murder, this is suggestive: or his goal was to distress Melinda Pleskovic or he was planning the homicide for months.

Jeffrey Scullin Jr, Strongville police

Here Bruce Pleskovic’s call to 911:

911 What’s the city of your emergency?

Strongsville Ohio, we have people on the way already.

What’s the address?

Blazing Star… I think someone killed my wife.

You think someone killed your wife?

Yeah, there is multiple stab wounds on her back!

Are…?

We’ve had people trying to break in to our house all year steal… (interrupted).

Sir, sir, sir, I under… sir, I need…, are you there right now?

I just get in the door with my new son-in-law, my son was still with her.

Ok sir, what I want you to do is walk outside and stay in the front, ok? You said she has been stabbed in the back?

Yeah, I don’t want… yeah, I think… I don’t think she is… her face hit the ground and there is blood, full of blood.

Is she breathing?

No, she is not… because I get there.

Did you performed CPR?

Noo!

Ok, what I want you to do is I want you to walk outside! Everyone in the house go outside and wait in the front! Ok? Do you see anyone else in the home?

My son who has down syndrome. On purpose, she sent me a text to meet me at Brew Kettle at 4.25 p.m., I didn’t hear from her… I didn’t expect this.

No, sir, I understand you are upset.

You know, we asked people to watch our fricken’ area. We had people attempted to break in just this week I don’t know what is going on in this city but this shouldn’t get done here.

I understand you are upset but can you give me your name please?

No, no… you people dropped.

Sir, sir, can you just take a deep breath and…?

This whole city is getting fricken’ taken over.

Sir, I understand you are upset but I need you to stay focused, ok? You don’t think to performed CPR, correct?

Bruce is speaking with two police officers while on the phone with the 911 operator: She is in the kitchen… I can’t believe this… We got a break in all year, things stolen, missing… I saw this chair down…

911 operator: You said she is in the kitchen? She is in the kitchen? Sir? You said she is in the kitchen? What’s your name? What’s your name? Ok what’s your…

I got here, we got home about tree minutes ago, I saw her this morning, 7.30 a.m., I am her husband, ok, let’s, we have had people trying to break in our house well, like a lot, so they flashed our cameras [unintelligible] we are getting targeted not only by who’s doing this but I’m [unintelligible]

911 operator: Do you see [unintelligible]? Ok, go and see with the police officer, I’m going just to disconnect, ok?

I can’t believe this…

911 operator: Can you go to speak with the officer that’s there?

I tried to figure out and to go out to eat, we always with our usual routine…

911 operator: Sir, do you see the officer there?

What’s?

911 operator: Do you see the officer?

I have two officers here.

911 operator: Ok, go and see with them I hung up with you.

Yeah.

Annunci