Michael Blagg: a narcissist and a 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.

MICHAEL BLAGG’S CALL TO 911 THE DAY OF HIS WIFE AND DAUGHTER’S DISAPPEARANCE: 

Operator: Where’s your emergency?

– Oh my God, is at my house.

Note the use of divinity, a linguistic signal of deception.

Operator: What’s going on?

– Uhm, I just got home from work and there is blood all over the bed and there’s stuff all over the floor, my family gone, my daughter and my wife aren’t here.

To answer with a “Uhm” is like to answer with a question, it is a pause to think, a signal that indicates that the question is sensitive to the caller.

Note Michael’s priority. Where one begins is a priority. It is the first thing processed by the brain.

1) “I just got home from work”

Alibi Building. This is to indicate to police that the caller’s priority is that he could not be involved nor possess any knowledge about what happened to his wife and daughter because he “just got home”. His priority is to save himself. 

“just” is a dependent word used to compare the timing to something else. 

2) “there is blood all over”

3) “stuff all over the floor”

He is trying to accredit a burglary before saying “my family gone”.

4) “my family gone, my daughter and my wife aren’t here”

Note his daughter and wife are without a name. The social introduction is key to understanding the relationship at the time of the call. An incomplete social introduction is a signal of a poor relationship. In this opening, he has indicated that there is a problem in the relationship. 

Michael doesn’t say “my daughter and wife are missing” but just “aren’t here”, in the negative.

He does not say “my daughter and my wife are missing” or “someone took, kidnapped, abducted them” to deliberately avoid a direct lie. 

Operator: Things are messed up in your house?

– Uhm… just… just in the master bedroom, it looks like…

“Uhm” is a pause to think, a signal that indicates that the question is sensitive to the caller.  

“just” is a dependent word indicating a comparison.

“it looks like…” is self censoring, an incomplete sentence is an indication of suppressed information.

Operator: How old is your wife?

– Uhm… she is thirty… thirty four, she’ll be thirty five this January.

“Uhm” is a pause to think, a signal that indicates that the question is sensitive to the caller.

Note that his wife is still without a name. 

Operator: And how old is your child?

– Six. Oh God.

Note that his daughter is still without a name.

Note the use of divinity for the second time.

Operator: Is your wife’s car out front? Mike?

– Let me look in the garage… yes, in the garage.

Operator: Did she go to school today?

– Nobody called, I don’t know.

Note that his daughter is still without a name.

Operator: When was the last time you talked to your wife?

– Last night, before we went to bed.

Note that his wife is still without a name.

Operator: When did you leave this morning?

– I always leave at six o’ clock in the morning. I’m going back inside. I’m gonna go up and look in my daughter’s room. I pushed open the door without touching anything. Her school clothes are still… uh… laid out waiting for her. Her bed is messed up, the covers are pulled all back and… and there is no blood through.

Michael doesn’t say at what time he left the house that morning, he tells the operator at what time he usually leaves. This is an example of the “normal factor”. People tell what they normally do to avoid telling what they actually did, because what they actually did, is not what they “normally” did. 

Note that his daughter is still without a name. 

“Her school clothes are still… uh… laid out waiting for her”, “Uh” is a pause to think. The pause is to indicate that the question is sensitive to him. Michael has assigned human body posture “laid out” to his daughter “clothes”, clothes don’t lay out waiting for someone. When someone uses body posture in language relating to an inanimate object, it is to anthropomorphize the object. Michael is giving linguistic indication of a close connection between himself and his daughter’s clothes, a common signal of a staged scene.

Operator: And her school clothes are still laid out like she never put them on?

– No, she never put them on.

Note that his daughter is still without a name. The refusal to use his daughter’s name is psychological distancing language.

Operator: So she never got dressed?

– No. I don’t know… I don’t know what to do.

MICHAEL BLAGG’S APPEAL:

“Michael: My prayer is that through this and through… uh… maybe somebody that saw something in the last couple of days that we can bring Jennifer and Abby home uhm because that’s… that’s what we all want, we just want them to come home.

The word “this” indicates closeness to the disappearances of Jennifer and Abby.

“Uh” and “uhm” are pauses to think. 

“just” is a dependent word used to compare the timing to something else. 

Journalist: How have you been dealing with this?

Michael: 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 reference to “the Lord”, twice.

The focus is on himself, he is the priority. The social introduction of his wife is  incomplete, a signal of a troubled relationship. The refusal to use his daughter’s name is psychological distancing language.

“just” is a dependent word used to compare the timing to something else.

Note that during the appeal he never used the words: kidnap, abduction, payment, communicate or contact. 

 MICHAEL BLAGG’S INTERVIEW WITH 48 HOURS MYSTERY:

– I had everything, I was on top of the world, I had a great job, wonderful family, incredible wife and daughter, everything was going perfect for me. It was a wonderful love story, I was in the navy, I recognized there was something special about her.

The focus is on himself, he is the priority. There are no “we”, only “I”.

Asked about Jennifer: Uh, you would meet someone that would light up this room better than these lights do in here right now and she could talk to a fence make it smile.

“Uh” is a pause to think, a signal that the question is sensitive to him.

Asked about Abby: A miniature Jennifer, she was just wonderful in all aspects, wake up singing in the morning and go to bed singing at night.

“just” is a dependent word used to compare the timing to something else. 

– The normal routine for me is to kinda slide out of bed carefully because Jennifer is still asleep.

Recalling of the day of his wife and daughter’s disappearance, Michael Blagg doesn’t say what he did that morning, he tells the operator what his normal routine is. People tell what they normally do to avoid telling what they actually did, because what they actually did is not what they normally did. 

– Trying to call her several times throughout the day and… always got through the answering machine.

Michael Blagg doesn’t say “I tried to call her…” but “Trying to call her…” and “always got…”, he doesn’t use the pronoun “I” to psychologically distancing himself from these calls.

– Uhm… came home, go inside, pick the normal packages on the way in and open the door, I can see down the hallway into my master bedroom and there’s stuff on the floor, papers and her purse was on the floor and I can’t really see everything that’s in but I know that… that’s not right and the beds not made, on top of that my daughter is not running to me: “Daddy, Daddy” and by the time I get most of the way down the hallway I can see there’s a large blood spot uhm where Jennifer should be.

“Uhm” is a pause to think, a signal that the question is sensitive to him.

 In “came home, go inside, pick the…” the pronoun “I” is missing, a dropped pronoun means no commitment, Michael is psychological distancing himself from arriving at home and entering.

The use of the word “normal” tells us that something not normal happened.

“I can’t really see everything that’s in…” and “my daughter is not running to me” are in the negative. Everything is in the negative in a free editing process is double important. Truthful people tell what happened, what they saw, what was said and what they did, when someone tells us what they did not see, what was not said and what they didn’t do in an open statement its importance is elevated. Deceptive people often tell us what did not happen to avoid telling what instead did take place.

In this sentence “but I know that… that’s not right and the beds not made” he uses the word “but” to emphasize the wording that follows it and to minimizes the information that preceded it.

Note that Blagg never use the past tense but just the present tense, it may indicate that he is lying, that he is not recalling from experiential memory.

– It rang through to the answering machine which isn’t terribly unusual, sometimes, you know, there’re in the bathroom or doing other things.

Note that “It rang…” is in the past tense and shows that Blagg is able to use the past tense.

“isn’t terribly unusual” is reported in the negative and it is to be highlighted as sensitive to him.

– At noon I’m starting a little worried, I haven’t heard from her, she hasn’t called me back on any of these calls and then the next time I get a chance to call her is around 3:00 something that afternoon.

– There, in front of me, is an open back door uhm she wouldn’t just leave door or window open.

A reference to doors opening/closing, windows opening/closing when unnecessary is a possible linguistic indication of sexual activity including sexual abuse.

– Can see there is a large… uhm… dark spot on the bed, I think maybe she’s rolled off the bed and is on the ground on the other side and so I… I go on the other side of the bed and there’s more blood and so at this point I… I… I know I… I have to call for help.

The missing pronoun “I” is a signal that Michael is psychological distancing himself from arriving at home and entering. 

“Uhm” is a pause to think. 

The presence of a triple stuttering “I… I… I” in this long sentence shows increase of tension which indicates an increase in anxiety. When a person lies, this causes internal conflicts that creates emotional stress.

We look for what caused the stuttering “I”: ”I have to call for help” caused the stuttering “I”. Blagg was stressed for himself because he had to speak with the operator.

The pronoun “I” is used by humans millions of times and, like the pronoun “we”, is instinctive, with the brain telling the mouth, in less than a microsecond, what to say. Two “I’s” show increase in tension, three or four indicates anxiety, 5+ suggests nervous breakdown, personal homicide.

– I had no idea what had happened, I just knew that it was bad whatever it was, was bad.

“just” is a dependent word used to compare the timing to something else. 

 MICHAEL BLAGG’S FIRST INTERVIEW WITH THE DETECTIVES:

– Through the strength of the holy spirit I am able to be standing… sitting here in front of you right now, every fibre, every corner… corner of my body wants to scream out and shout and grab somebody by the neck and say: “You did it” and tear them limb from limb.

Michael says “I am able to be standing… sitting here”, a reference to body posture when unnecessary is an indication of tension. 

– We’re talking about the two most important people in my life are missing right now.

Something unnecessary to say that he uses to fish for sympathy.

– I have no idea but I saw a lot of blood, a lot of blood.

The word “but” is used to emphasize the wording that follows it and to minimizes the words that preceded it.

– You won’t find anyone that loves each other more than we do. It’s a wonderful marriage.

– Went in, opened the door… uhm… “I’m home”, closed the door and I can see from the entry way.

The absence of the pronoun “I” is a signal that Michael is psychological distancing himself from arriving at home and entering.

His referring to open and close door, that we noted for the second time, is unnecessary and suspect, often present in the language of sexual abuse.

– I’m looking straight back to the back of the house I can see the door open that was really unusual.

– Fear, initial fear that something bad is going on, so I ran back to the uh master bedroom and as I’m going back there I’m able to see the beds not made which is another warning flag because Jennifer makes the bed every morning and there is a big patch of… blood. I was pretty freaked out when I saw the volume of blood that is there and I made a pretty quick dash to the phone to call 911.

Note “Fear, initial fear…”. When someone recall an event that took place few hours before, we expect to find the emotions at the end of the statement. When emotions are placed in the right part of a statement released hours or days, not years, after an event took place, we look for deception.

Detectives interviewed Michael Blagg a day after his wife and daughter’s disappearance, he had not the time to process the emotions, he artificially placed the emotions in the right part of his statement, an indication of deception.

One of the detective said that Blagg 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”.

The “kiss Goodbye” is often a linguistic signal of the time of death.

STATEMENTS FROM AN INTERVIEW MICHAEL BLAGG GAVE BEFORE DETECTIVES FOUND HIS WIFE’S REMAINS:

Michael Blagg is referring to his “passion” for pornography:

– It was yeah we… we… yeah… we talked very much like that. She told me: “I don’t want you to be doing this but if you are going to be doing this then we should be together with this”. This was during a time after Jennifer’s hysterectomy and she knew we were gonna have find other ways to satisfy each other and we were looking at it more as experimenting looking for alternative things we could do.

“to be doing this” and “if you are going to be doing this”, are sensitive sentences for the repetition and because the law of economy is disrupted in both sentences. As effort is needed, sensitivity and importance is increased.

Its not believable that Jennifer had shown closeness to what Michael was “doing” with the word “this”, Jennifer was upset with her husband because his passion for pornography and they had argued.

– All I know is what I saw when I came back to the house that horrible afternoon.

– I tried to… uh… slit my wrists, next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital.

– They said that as a potential suspect in this, they just thought that it would be bad for me to be out there and so I was barred from being able to search for my daughter and my wife… absolutely I wanted to go in that search.

When Blagg says “They said that as a potential suspect in this”, with the word “this” he shows closeness to the disappearances of his wife and daughter.

When Blagg says “I wanted to go in that search” with the use of “that” he takes distance from the search.

What do you think happened?

– At some point, while we were out as a family, someone saw us and decided they liked Abby and wanted to take her, after I left, they broke in through the back, shot Jennifer, grabbed Abby and why they took Jennifer at that point, I don’t know, unless it must be somehow to control Abby… I can’t explain why they took Jennifer, it’s just I know that it happened.

Note the word “left”, when “left” is used as connecting verb there are missing information, something happened here.  

Do you have anything to do with their disappearance?

– No, I have nothing to do with their disappearance and it’s… it’s strange to me to think that anybody could… do anything like what apparently happened here.
I have certainly had many time when I have just been completely out of control… uhm… but I… I have also spent a lot of time in my bible and the Lord is giving me peace about this.

“No, I have nothing to do with their disappearance…” is not a reliable denial because it is parroted language. 

Michael Blagg is telling us that he can lose his control.

Note the reference to “the Lord”.

– Pink… pink was her favourite colour, is her favourite colour

He speaks of his daughter at the past tense, he knows she is dead. Her body was never found. At the time of this interview Jennifer’s body had not been found yet.

MICHAEL BLAGG’S STATEMENT BEFORE HIS FIRST VERDICT:

– Prosecution’s case is built on shifting sands and here we are at the end I just have the hope that the jury has seen that too. I can tell your honour that I’m innocent of these charges and I have nothing further to say.

The term “shifting sands” is an example of leakage. Jennifer’s remains were found in a “shifting” area. Leakage is a inadvertent release of information. Even while being deceptive, people may just leak out an information they did not intend to share, simply because it weighs heavily on the mind. 

“I am innocent” is an unreliable denial, to affirm to be innocent is different from saying “I didn’t kill my wife an my daughter”, which was expected. To say, “I am innocent” is to deny the judicial outcome, not the action. An innocent “de facto” is someone who did not do it and is able to say “I didn’t do it” and eventually to add in the judicial conclusion. When people say they are innocent, they are just denying the conclusion that they are guilty, not the action. Blagg, speaking about “charges”, deliberately left out what these charges are to take distance from the homicides.

RETRIAL

During the retrial, at the end of his testimony, Public Defender Tina Fang asked Blagg if he killed his daughter Abby:

Michael Blagg: No, I did not.

“No, I did not” is not a reliable denial. 

A reliable denial 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.

“No, I did not kill her” 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.

In this case, we looked for Michael Blagg to say “I didn’t kill her” or “I didn’t kill my daughter Abby” using the pronoun, “I”, the past tense “didn’t” or “did not” and add in the specific accusation. With his first answer “No, I did not” Blagg violated component three of a reliable denial.

 

Annunci