Analysis of some excerpts of Ryan K. Widmer’s interview with correspondent Karin Johnson

Sarah and Ryan Widmer

On August 11, 2008, Ryan K. Widmer killed his wife Sarah by drowning her in their Hamilton Township home.

Ryan Widmer was tried three times:

  • In April 2009, a jury, after 23 hours of deliberations, found him guilty.
  • In 2010, a jury, after 31 hours of deliberations, was unable to reach a verdict.
  • The last trial, that started in January 2011, found Ryan Widmer guilty of unpremeditated murder. He was sentenced to 13 years of prison.

After his third and last trial Widmer released an interview from prison to correspondent Karin Johnson.

What we look for in the following excerpts is for Ryan Widmer to issue a reliable denial and to tell the truth about the night of his wife death.

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.

There is no consequence to issue a reliable denial about any false allegation.

“I did not kill Sarah” followed by “I told the truth” while addressing the denial, it is more than 99% likely to be true. 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.

Ryan Widmer speaking about his death mother: She let this destroy her, you know, it’s sad because it should have never happened, I mean, I loose my wife, I go through to this and now I loose my mum.

“She let this destroy her” is generic, Widmer shows closeness to what destroy his mother saying “this”. He doesn’t explain what he is referring with “this”, “this” could be the murder as his “wrongful conviction”, Ryan Widmer count on us to interpret.

The presence of “you know” shows Widmer’s acute awareness of the audience.

Note that the focus is not on his mother, the focus is on Ryan Widmer himself. This first sentences speaks loud of Widmer’s personality. This first sentence tells us especially about his lack of empathy.

Ryan Widmer: I mean… it was a normal night… uhm… we hanged out at the time, we still trying the grass growing… uhm… because our house was fairly new, so I was water and grass, I took the dog for a walk, which normally she did but she didn’t feel about that night… uh man! she was on the couch, we were on the couch, I made dinner, everything was fine except her complain of being sick and having an headache…

Note the use of “I mean”, “uhm”, “uh man!” to take time to think. 

Note the use of the word “normal” that tells us that it was not a normal night.

“we hanged out at the time” is unnecessary to say, he uses these words to fill his narrative, it sounds story building.

Note that he contradicts himself when he says “I took the dog for a walk, which normally she did but she didn’t feel about that night…” because this was already something out of the ordinary.

Widmer first says  “she was on the couch” and then he adds “we were on the couch” counting on us to conclude that they were on the couch at the same time.

When Widmer says “she didn’t feel about that night…” and “everything was fine except her complain of being sick and having an headache…” he is building his defence.

Karin Johnson: Did you kill Sarah?

Ryan Widmer: No… uhm… no, I always said that, this is the way it is, just because I’m in prison doesn’t mean I’m guilty… (cut)

We count the words after a “No”, these words weaker the negation. In this case the sentence is incomplete but we can still analyse anyway the words said after “No”:

“uhm” is a non word, useful to take time to think.

I always said that” is different from “I told the truth”. To repeat something doesn’t make it the truth.

“this is the way it is” is a sentence often used by sociopath.

I’m guilty” is an embedded admission, Widmer framed himself without parroting anybody’s words.

Karin Johnson: Did you guy argue at all that night?

“at all” are unnecessary words, with these two words the correspondent suggests the answer to Widmer.

Ryan Widmer: No… not at all, no.

Widmer shows a need to persuade that usually innocent don’t have.

Ryan Widmer: I stayed downstairs watching the football game, I walked upstairs, you know, kind of took my clothes out, kind of ye… I was surprised, she wasn’t in the bed yet… uh… give my staff ready to go to the bed and walked in the bathroom, that’s when I found her.

When Widmer says “I stayed downstairs watching the football game” he doesn’t say where Sarah was, he counts on us to interpret.

“I walked upstairs” is an unusual sentence, Widmer was inside his house, he couldn’t have taken a bike or a car to go upstairs, “I went upstairs” was expected, “I walked upstairs” sounds story telling.

The presence of “you know” shows Widmer’s acute awareness of the audience.

When Widmer says “kind of took my clothes out, kind of ye…” he sounds vague and story telling.

kind of ye…” is not only vague but also incomplete, self censoring is a signal of suppressed information .

Note that “I was surprised” is a reference to an emotion. The description of an emotion in the right part of a statement and not at the end of it, is unexpected in a truthful narrative.

Note that “she wasn’t in the bed yet…” is unexpected, truthful people tells us what happened, what they saw, what they did, etc. There is no reason to report things in the negative while speaking freely. Widmer shows a need to pre empt a possible question, this is not only an alert for deception, but opens to the possibility that Sarah was in the bed when he went upstairs.

Note the location of the non word “uh”, a pause to think in “she wasn’t in the bed yet… uh… give my staff ready to go to the bed”.

In “give my staff ready to go to the bed and walked in the bathroom” by beginning without the personal pronoun “I”, Widmer is not psychologically committing to what he is saying, something that deceptive people often do. 

Note that “give” is also at the present tense. We know that Ryan Widmer is able to use the past tense. When he says “”give my staff ready to go to the bed” his use of the present tense tells us that he is not recalling from experiential memory.   A commitment to a past event is found in past tense verbs. When someone is speaking of an event in the past, it is expected the subject to use past tense language.  When someone is not committing, or even fabricating, they can slip into present 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.

“that’s when I found her” is a vague sentence, he is not telling us that he found her death or in the bathtub. He again counts on us to interpret and assume.

Karin Johnson: You explain how you saw Sarah?

Ryan Widmer: Just floating in… in the water… uhm… you know, I just… I… I like… I don’t really know how to describe, how to say… I saw her, pulled her out the water, drained the water… uh… just, as soon as the water get drained with her still in the tub, just found the cell phone right away… (cut)

Note how difficult is for Widmer to answer. The question is sensitive to him.

Note that there is no subject in “Just floating in… in the water…”, Widmer’s account of the events is not reliable.

The presence of “you know” shows Widmer’s acute awareness of the audience.

 ” I just… I… I like… I don’t really know how to describe, how to say…”, note the vagueness, he is unable to describe the scene; the presence of the non word “uhm”, useful to take time to answer; the stuttering “I”, a signal of anxiety; 

Note the three “just” in few words ” I just… I… I like… (…) uh… just, as soon as the water (..)  just found the cell phone right away…”. “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, Widmer was thinking about what really took place.

When Widmer says “just found the cell phone right away…” he doesn’t say that he called 911 and the unexpected presence of the adverb “right away” is telling us that he didn’t call “right away” but that there was a delay.

Ryan Widmer: I don’t understand why they continue to drive that home. The problem with it, is: Ok, her hairs were wet… uhm… you know, they say the carpet was dry, the only carpet’s samples they took from that night were soaked and that was introduce in the trial… uh… the bathtub… you know… they claim they left out of my house 2 or 3 hours later, went back to take pictures, the pictures taken 2 or 3 hours later of the bathtub, clearly shows water sitting in that bathtub, not a lot but you talk about an hour later I… I mean, I don’t know what to say other than I don’t believe her body was as dried, the carpet nor everything else was as dried as they make it out to be.

Widmer admits that the prosecutors were right “The problem with it, is: Ok, her hairs were wet… uhm… you know”, he is unable to contrast the prosecutors’ theory.

The presence of “you know” shows Widmer’s acute awareness of the audience, again.

“water sitting in that bathtub”, water don’t sit in a bathtub, every time someone gives a body posture to an inanimate object there is the possibility of a staging.

When Widmer says “I… I mean, I don’t know what to say other than I don’t believe her body was as dried, the carpet nor everything else was as dried as they make it out to be” he is not convinced and not convincing. There is not the “wall of truth” within Ryan Widmer.

Karin Johnson: Three trials, three chances to take the stand, why you didn’t ever testify?

Ryan Widmer: I… just… uh… it wasn’t my decision… uhm… made by my lawyers and multiple people that were involved, but the main decision: I said what I said in the 911 call, I can’t tell anybody what happened to her in the bathroom that night, that’s what people want me to say, so there is really… there is nothing I can say to change anything.

This incipit “I… just… uh… it wasn’t my decision… uhm… made by” shows that the question is sensitive to him.

The answer to the question is here: “I can’t tell anybody what happened to her in the bathroom that night”. Widmer cannot tell anybody what happened to her in the bathroom that night because the truth is incriminating, that’s why, in his three trials, he never took the stand. 

Analysis Conclusion:

Ryan Widmer is deceptively withholding information.

Widmer is not only unable or unwilling to deny his involvement in his wife Sarah’s death but he accepts a possible guilt, something that is not expected from an innocent.

Ryan Widmer has guilty knowledge of what happened to his wife Sarah.

It’s highly likely that, while Sarah was already in bed, Ryan filled the bathtub, then asked her to reach him in the bathroom where, pushing her head under the water, he drowned her. 

Annunci