A young Sydney mother Lynette White, a dancer and hairdresser who owned a salon at Vaucluse, was killed at her Coogee unit on June 8, 1973.
She was stabbed 11 times in the chest region and her throat slashed. She was found partially undressed and there were no signs of forced entry at the unit.
Lynette’s husband Paul, who was 26 years old at the time of the murder, told investigators that he had discovered Lynette’s body when he returned home from work.
The couple’s 11-month-old son was still in his cot.
Lynette’s murder is still unsolved.
In 2017, Lynette’s husband Paul White released an interview aired in the documentary The Lynette White Story.
In Statement Analysis we assume that the speaker is “de facto innocent” and that he speaks to be understood. Therefore, from a “de facto innocent” we don’t expect to find in his language characteristic indicators of the statements of those who do not speak the truth. We begin every analysis expecting truth, and it is the unexpected that confronts us with possibly deception. The context is the key to understand if behind one or more sensitivity indicators there is guilty knowledge. Basically we analyze the words that we don’t expect to hear or read (The Expected Versus The Unexpected).
Paul White: It’s very hard to … to shut this out of your mind. I feel a bit jealous of families that, their murder has been resolved, that they know who the murderer is.
By beginning without the pronoun “I”, White shows no commitment to his words. Note the pause to think about what to say.
Please note that, instead of saying “to shut this out of my mind”, he substitutes “my” with “your” counting on the interviewer to conclude that he is speaking for himself when he is not. Note also that he speaks of the murder as “this” not as “Lynette’s murder” or “my wife murder”, moreover showing closeness with the use of “this”.
Please note also the word “jealous”. Could Paul be jealous of those who are not under scrutiny?
Note “their murder”. Why “their murder” and not “the murder of a family member”? Does he think “their murder” because he considers Lynette’s murder “his murder”? Is he taking ownership of Lynette’s murder?
Paul White about some phone calls Lynette received at home: Apparently, she didn’t want to … uhhh … upset me or she thought she might upset me … uhm … so she told her girlfriends more about it than she told me. She confided in Maisie about this and Maisie said: “Look, Lyn, this is what happens in show business, we get a lot of these phone calls”. I was very always stressed upon Lyn never to open a door to anybody unless she knew them, which to my mind she wouldn’t.
“Apparently” reduces commitment to the assertion that follows.
Note the pauses to think. These pauses are noted as sensitive.
Note that he repeats “upset me” twice. Repetition indicates sensitivity. Was Paul so jealous of Lynette that she didn’t tell him of those phone calls not the enrage him? Was Lynette a victim of domestic abuse?
Paul White: With Lyn having a pretty traumatic pregnancy to have a healthy baby was number one, yeah, it was indescribable.
Did Paul feel he was not anymore the “number one” in Lynette’s life? One should wonder if it is related to the motive of Lynette’s murder.
Paul White: Maybe I didn’t listen enough, I … I don’t know. It’s just unfortunate that … uh … we didn’t talk about these things back then … uhm … like we do today. I wish we did.
Please note “I …I”. Paul should be highly efficient at using the personal pronoun “I” since he is not a stutterer. In Statement Analysis, this is called the “stuttering I of anxiety” and tells us that the question that produce this stuttering “I” is sensitive to the speaker.
Note also Paul’s need to pause to think.
PaulI says “Its just unfortunate that … uh … we didn’t talk about these things back then”, why? Didn’t Paul understand that Lynette was suffering from post partum depression? Could the murder be prevented by the talking? I guess so.
Paul White: This day, Friday, was a normal day. She was up, dressed. I gave her a kiss goodbye. I was a bit worried about her since the birth of Shane, not realizing that she might have been suffering a little bit of depression, I found out later. Normally through the day she’d take Shane for a walk, she’d do the washing, ironing, whatever. People come around to buy Swipe or some of our team might phone or turn up.
I arrived home around the 7.30 mark. Got to our landing and I noticed that our door was slightly ajar and it was dark and I thought that was odd. And I see … uh … legs protruding out from our second bedroom where Shane sleeps. I remember … racing in … uhm … turning a light on and … uhm … sorry. There was blood everywhere. And … uhm … she was half naked and her throat was slashed. And I was just hoping for a pulse. I couldn’t get her back, she was so cold and … uh … clammy. Shane was in the cot, he was only a metre away. I raced and picked him up … uh … and I think he was crying. He was ok.
Please note that, recalling the events of the day of Lynette’s murder, Paul White never said “Lynette” or “my wife” or “my wife Lynette”, he only referred to her as “She” and “her”. This is distancing language.
Note also that he said “Shane”, the name of his son, three times, but never said “my son Shane” or “my son”. This is also distancing language.
“This day, Friday, was a normal day” sounds as story telling. In Statement Analysis we focus on the word “normal” because is often found in deceptive statements indicating the contrary.
Please note “She was up, dressed”.
“She was up” sounds like a description of Lynette’s body posture, an indication of increased tension.
Why does Paul feel the need to add “dressed”? We know that Lynette was found half naked. Does he say “dressed” to pre empt the question “Was she dressed?” or to slightly blaming the victim? Does he desire to make the interviewer believe that she could have had a lover to move the focus from himself and also to justify the absence of signs of forced entry at the unit where Lynette was killed? Did Paul believe that Lynette, at the time of the murder, had a lover due to the fact that she sexually refused him because her post partum depression and his heavily drinking?
Note “I gave her a kiss 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.
Humans often speak in an economy of words. Note how Paul slows down the pace adding: “I was a bit worried about her since the birth of Shane, not realizing that she might have been suffering a little bit of depression, I found out later. Normally through the day she’d take Shane for a walk, she’d do the washing, ironing, whatever. People come around to buy Swipe or some of our team might phone or turn up”.
Saying “not realizing that she might have been suffering a little bit of depression, I found out later” he confirms our suspect. Is he trying to justify his behaviour?
Murderers slow down the pace when they recount the moment they found the body of the victim not to deal with the stress of the murder they had committed.
Please note that in the sentence “Got to our landing”, the personal pronoun “I” is missing. Paul White doesn’t show commitment to his words.
Please note “I noticed that our door was slightly ajar”. In Statement Analysis, we focus on the use of the word “noticed” because we often find it in deceptive statements. The use of “noticed” unveils an expectation, not a surprise. In other words, Paul White was expecting to find the “door slightly ajar”, why?
Note “And I see … uh … legs protruding out from our second bedroom where Shane sleeps”.
“And” is a passing over of time, a temporal lacunae that does not, by itself, indicate deception but it means that information has been left.
White is psychologically in the statement with “I” but uses the verbs “see” at the present tense which weakens his commitment. We know that White knows how to use the past tense, that’s why the fact that he is speaking at the present tense while reliving the discovery of the dead body of his wife is a concern. He also says “sleeps” instead of “slept” when speaking about his son.
Please also note that, after a pause, he says “legs protruding out from our second bedroom” not “Lynette’s legs” or “her legs” but simply “legs”. This is distancing language. Why does he has a need to psychologically distancing himself from the dead body of his wife? This is unexpected and a concern.
Please also note “I remember … racing in … uhm … turning a light on and … uhm … sorry.”
As we can only report what we “remember” in truthful accounts, in an open statement, like this, “I remember” are not only unnecessary words but also an indication that he may have told us previously what was not from his experiential memory.
The word “racing” speaks of a delay as he shows a need to convince that he acted fast in discovering Lynette’s body.
Please note “turning a light on”. This is also concerning because is a sentence associated with a sexual motive for a crime.
Please note the location of “sorry”. Does he has something to be sorry? This is an indicator of a form of regret that usually enters the language of the guilty.
Note the word “And” in these two sentences: “And … uhm … she was half naked and her throat was slashed” and “And I was just hoping for a pulse”. “And” is a passing over of time, a temporal lacunae. White is withholding information, again.
Note “And I was just hoping for a pulse”. The word “just” is a dependent word used in comparison. Its communication is found in dependence upon another thought, which one?
Note “she was so cold”. Was she also sexually distant from him in the days prior her murder?
In another interview, released to “The Sydney Morning Herald”, Paul White said: “I just went straight into the bedroom, turned the light on and there was Lyn just lying there.”
Note that he uses the word “just” twice. He is comparing.
Note the word “straight” that tells us of a delay, again.
Note also the words “turned the light on” often associated with a sexual motive for a crime.
Paul White: Beryl became his mother for the first three years of his life basically. Shane sort of took the place of Lyn in Beryl’s eyes. I’d have him for the weekend and I’d take him back Sundays. It was pretty tough because I was drinking pretty heavy back then through the week. I was very lucky, I had good, close family, close friends who helped me. I took him when he was about three, you couldn’t have a stronger … uh … relationship with … with anybody. My mate Shane, he, a reflection of his, his mother in a … a lot of ways. I think he looked after me more than I looked after him.
Note “I was drinking pretty heavy back then through the week”. Was he drunk the morning of the murder? Was Lynette a victim of domestic abuse due to his addiction to alcohol?
When he says “I was very lucky” I agree with him. He got away with murder for so many years.
Paul White: Wendy’s my great mate. We’ve been together now nine years. She’s very understanding.
Note “She’s very understanding”. The word “very” tells us that “understanding” is sensitive to White. Was he not expecting a woman to be “understanding”? Was Lynette not “understanding”? One should wonder if it is related to the motive of Lynette’s murder.
We allowed Paul White’s words to guide us. He has guilty knowledge of what happened to his wife Lynette. He is the one who stabbed her to death 47 years ago.
A speculation about the motive: At the time of the murder, Lynette sexually refused Paul because her post partum depression and his heavily drinking. This made Paul White believing that she had a lover. The morning of the murder, to her refusal to have sex, he reacted with rage raping and killing her.
Why did Paul White released this interview? Because he must hold the part and because, after 44 years, he felt safe. A misstep!