Welcome to Part 2 of the Jazzy O murderer’s behaviouralanalysis.
In Part 1 we were introduced to the odd couple, Jazzy O (Johanna Martin) and Steve Constantinou.
We analysed the deceptive behaviour of Constantinou as police investigators expertly used the strategic introduction of evidence to back him into a corner.
In Part 2 we scrutinize Steve Constantinou’s false evidence and the various ways he attempts to deceive police investigators as they close in.
Jump to the 1 minute 54 second timestamp of the police video excerpt below, try spottingthe indicators of deception, and then read my analysis below:
Timestamp 1:54 to 2:12 is jam-packed with indicators of deceptive intent. Did you spot them all?
As Constantinou tells us that … “I got involved in something that [pause] was beyond my control” we see some excellent examples of hand-to-face gestures clustered withlatency (the pause).
Specifically, we see Constantinou’s first instance of engaging in mouth-covering gestures which, if you’ve read my free Lie-Hacking Guide (look to your right!), you spotted a mile off.
Mouth-covering gestures indicate psychological distress caused by the act of lying. By covering, rubbing, touching the mouth (or biting or sucking the lips) the speaker is exhibiting a self-pacifying gesture.
In comparison with the preceding clip, which showed him in “freeze” mode, we now see Constantinou in “flight” mode. His emotions are high as he upgrades his deception fromcontent-editing to avoidance.
First, he attempts to distance himself from the death of Martin by depicting himself as being a passive party to the events that occurred: His word choice of “something that was beyond my control” tells us this.
His next utterance, “I didn’t do anything wrong”, combined with a fantastic eye-blockinggesture, is a very nice cluster of avoidance/flight behaviour.
The critical word in “I didn’t do anything wrong” is anything. This type of denial is what we call a Non-specific Denial.
Non-specific denials are so subtle they easily slip past the untrained interviewer’s ear. They comprise a denial that is delivered in more general terms rather than a specific, outright denial such as, “I didn’t do it”. By using “anything” Constantinou is letting himself off the hook psychologically.
After Constantinou displays this cluster he immediately checks the faces of both detectives. Did you spot that? This, my friends, is the kind of eye contact you should be looking for when observing for signs of deception.
Forget about all that “if he looks up and to the left he’s lying” or the erroneously held “lack of eye contact means he’s lying” guff. Look for excessive eye contact or a cluster (like the one above) followed by intense response-checking of the listener.
If the liar is highly motivated to convince you of their innocence (as Constantinou clearly is) they might:
And, for good measure, he finishes off with another hand-to-mouth gesture. Not a bad cluster!
In this mere 18 seconds of footage we saw great examples of some of the most reliable indicators of deceptive intent: hand-to-mouth, eye-blocking, response-checking, latency and non-specific denial.
Now Constantinou finally takes centre stage and delivers a false version of events to the detectives.
How awesome is his opening spiel? “I wanna tell you the truth, and I had hardly anything to do with it”.
Translation: “I can’t tell you what really happened, but I know I’m supposed to. So, I will attempt to appear as though I’m cooperating, but I will not be telling the truth. I know I’m they key person of interest, and you already have evidence of my involvement, but I will now try to convince you I had nothing to do with Martin’s death”.
From timestamp 2:20 to 3:24 Constantinou delivers his version of what transpired at his residence on the date of Martin’s death.
The first thing you might have picked up was the increased latency between and during each sentence he spoke. This, as we’ve discussed previously, is a sign of increased cognitive load.
In this instance, Constantinou is likely still processing the CCTV evidence the detectives have on him. Further, he knows that what he is saying right now is critical to the investigation. He also knows he is lying and that it needs to sound plausible. In addition, he is juggling conflicting versions in his head; what really happened and what he’s saying right now. It all adds up.
A reliable indicator of high cognitive load is latency. In context — and clustered with other indicators — it is a strong indication of deceptive intent.
So, all of this brain-melting cognitive load takes time to process. And that is why we see so many pauses between and during Constantinou’s speech.
During this short clip we also hear him — for the first time — finish four of his sentences with either “ok?” or “right?” This is a manifestation of his high motivation for the detectives to believe him. And is significant because it is aberrant to his baseline speech.
It is also a means of buying time that is exhibited by those under high cognitive load that are fabricating an alibi. However, as per above, it is only significant if aberrant to baseline.
TRUTH IN THE GESTURE?
We see an interesting couple of gestures after the 2:24 timestamp.
This is extremely interesting. Why?
Let’s suspend all disbelief for a moment and take his version as being completely truthful. According to his story, Martin was locked inside the bathroom. He could not see her and did not know what she was doing.
The only information he had was that he could hear what he thought was a choking sound coming from within.
By using these gestures has he just shown the detectives how he strangled Martin?
From timestamp 3:24 to 3:59 Constantinou gives us a cluster of palms-up, a time-buying “you know?” and hand-to-mouth following his utterance of “that’s the truth”.
At the point where he concedes that he “had to get rid of evidence” we see him stumble over his words as he realises that “evidence” was probably not the best choice of words!
And then, from the 3:53 timestamp he treats us to a medley of non-specific denials andpalms-up gestures.
Did you notice his word choice? Not once did he use words like kill, murder or strangle. Instead, he chose the less psychologically confronting words of “anything” and “hurt”.
Response to Media Reports
From timestamp 4:00 to 4:18 Constantinou gives the detectives his thoughts on the media reports that Martin’s death was an S&M sex act gone wrong.
As he attempts to distance himself by indicating no knowledge of any such activities with Martin (yet avoiding making a direct denial), we see Constantinou engage is a new self-pacifying gesture.
The above act of touching or covering the suprasternal notch (the hollow between your collarbones) is a manifestation of someone who is feeling distressed, threatened, uncomfortable, fearful or insecure. It is a significant behavioural clue for detecting the discomfort experienced when lying or concealing information.
Interestingly, touching of the suprasternal notch is most often seen in women.
The fact that Constantinou is acting this way while attempting to distance himself from any knowledge, indicates he knows more than he’s letting on.
From timestamp 4:19 to 4:41 we get a lovely view of Constantinou’s backside as he demonstrates for the detectives what he did when he entered the bathroom.
He provides details of his body movements that, under the circumstances of being — in his words — panicked, it is very unlikely he would remember.
Note how he gives details such as “I [verb] like that” and “I did … like this” and “Took the thing off her neck and threw it away, like that” during his little pantomime.
A panicked person will most likely remember the emotions they were feeling, what they were thinking, the smells, and wholesale actions that occurred. Constantinou, though, is able to “remember” his exact body movements because he’s making them up on the fly. He’s visualising a fabricated story.
He comes up with a nice finale to the story by attempting to make the deception seem real when he says Martin was purple in the face.
However, not only does he experience a significant speech error in the lead up to saying it, but then attempts to make it sound convincing by repeating the word purple twice afterwards.
And how about those nice hand-to-nose gestures at the finish there?!
What he didn’t realise, though, is that the female detective is awesome at her job and picked up an anomaly in his version.
At the 4:45 timestamp she brings the anomaly to Constantinou’s attention.
He responds with a torso lean (he’d been leaning forward) and nice and subtle partialeye-block. Ouch!
From the 4:55 timestamp to the end of the video we see what appears to be Constantinou’s gradual realisation that there’s nowhere to hide. Despite this, though, we still see him throw in a few avoidance comments, for what it’s worth. I will leave those (and the body language cues) for you to spot!
Unfortunately, the footage is heavily edited and does not show us how Constantinou responds to the female detective’s comment that she believes he murdered Martin (timestamp 5:26). What it does show is a complete absence of body movement. Cognitive overload, anyone?!
On August 27, 2013 Steve Constantinou was sentenced to 24 years in prison (20-year non-parole period) for Johanna Martin’s murder.
Good outcome. And good to see he’s no longer sporting that dodgy rug!