The man who is the only person who knows how his girlfriend died
Do his words reveal the truth about what happened?
Do you know how rare it is to read or hear the words of someone suspected of a serious crime?
Extremely rare is the answer. As someone who has spent thousands of hours analysing sets of words, I can tell you that when I find them, I treat them like gold.
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Interestingly, it feels like the guilty are more likely to speak to profess their innocence than the innocent are. This is probably why fans of the lame minded parts of True Crime content automatically jump on any person who speaks out and shout “guilty” at them based on nothing solid apart from the fact they have spoken. See Paul Ansell for details.
Therefore, it was of interest to listen to a podcast and read an article this week which carried interviews with a man arrested after his girlfriend fell from his apartment to her death. The man was not charged, but many suspect he was involved.
There are links to the podcast and article at the end of this post.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the words he uses. We won't fall into the easy trap of looking at what he says to see if we think he’s guilty or innocent. Instead, let’s look at how what he says reveals his thinking.
For American readers, it may be helpful to know in England a flat is how we often describe an apartment.
In this first excerpt, he describes his relationship with his girlfriend.
We just fell in love, plain and fucking simple, do you know what I mean? And bearing in mind that I’m 43, she died at 25, so you know to me it was a blessing that I had some beautiful, absolutely fucking stunning, beautiful young lady wanting to spend time with me. Not just because she needed someone to live because she’s capable of living anywhere and everywhere.
We learn a lot here. When he says, “we just fell in love” his use of “just” suggests that he skips events, but he wants us to know first and foremost, it was a relationship.
Her death is understandably very significant to him. He could have described the age gap or their relative ages when she was alive. Instead, he portrays it as his age now versus her age when she died to maximise them difference.
Her looks are important to him. It’s the only thing he says he that her got from the relationship. As well as the ego boost he got that she wanted to spend time with him.
The wording of “not just because she needed somewhere to live” allows for the fact she needed somewhere to live to be a factor in why she chose to be with him. He attempts to say it wasn’t, but he doesn’t have the truthful words to state that.
He doesn’t mention what it was about her as a person he liked apart from her age, her looks and that she wanted to spend time with him. Likewise, he doesn’t say what she did for him or anything about her as a person that he liked.
His words paint a picture of a relationship with a very skewed power balance.
To be in a normal human relationship is to become a bit angry now and then, because you love that person. If a normal human relationship is ‘sit there quietly and don’t make a noise’, then go crack on with your ‘normal human relationship.
Here he is talking about relationships in general. Not the specific relationship he has with her.
He states without room for argument that he considers loving someone means you will be angry with them. I’d suggest he grew up with anger as a central part of the adult relationships he observed, which is why he states it is normal.
Having stated in concrete terms what is relationship involves, he then contradicts that by saying a normal relationship could be different from that. Note the consideration isn’t that a normal relationship could be two people very happy with each other, but that it could involve discomfort with the other person, however in this version you don’t raise your objections or let your anger out.
In all my experience with analysing words, when someone is at pains to state how normal somethign is, it usualy means it is far from normal.
With these first two excerpts, I get a picture of an unbalanced relationship where anger and potentially abuse were the norm.
The boyfriend then describes what he did with his girlfriend on the day she died. Following that, the interviewer says to him:
Sounds like you’d had a happy day
We had happy days, every day was happy, every day was happy. Well.. I’m lying. Every day felt happy, but we’re humans. So some days were shitter than others.
He is asked specifically about that day, but then answers about days in general.
He tries to give the impression every day was happy but admits he was lying, then said days only felt happy.
Again, he normalises unhappiness as being human, pointing once more to my suggestion he grew up around unhappy relationships.
In the end, he explicitly says all days were shit and that some were shitter than others.
As he avoided talking about the events of the day she died and how they got on that day, and he says, “every day was shit” it’s fair to conclude that the day she died was shit and that there was at least one disagreement that he is hiding
It rolled up to just before 11pm… I had my dog with me, my dog comes everywhere with me. I give her my bank card, my wallet. I said, ‘Get a taxi home’. I had the dog, I can’t take the dog in the taxi and I said, ‘I can walk from here to Easton in 10 minutes, 15 minutes.’
He’s now talking about the events that night and has moved into storyselling mode, not only telling us the events that happened, but adding the reasons why they happened too.
He mentions the dog a lot in his excuse. I ask why is that? Does he want us to picture him as a kind, animal-loving person? Did the couple fight over the dog? Having the dog wouldn’t have only limited the journey home, it would have limited the places they could have gone to as well.
I spot the language of control here. He ordered her to get a taxi. As he tells it, it wasn’t a mutual decision. If he could have walked in 15 minutes, it couldn’t have been a long taxi journey. He also points out it was him who enabled it by paying for it. Again, is this to portray himself as a nice guy?
The line “I give her my bank card, my wallet” got me interested as it is in the present tense when the past tense is expected. It is potentially made up and that feeling increases as if she has his bank card, there’s no need to also give his wallet and vice versa.
In his later words, there is no concern his girlfriend has gone missing with his bank card and wallet, so I’m confident to conclude this is deception.
Although it could be they were somewhere she didn’t know well, it didn’t feel necessary to tell her how long it will take to walk home.
In conclusion, it appears his words here get deceptive to cover up a falling out or argument which resulted in them going separate ways.
Finally, the first words here “it rolled up to just before 11” are odd. It’s very specific and I question why he knew it was just before 11. It could be that 11 is a traditional closing time of British pubs. ‘It rolled up” struck me as a line that is used around drugs or smoking.
I got home, Shannon wasn’t home. She should have been home before me. Cos I waited for the taxi to turn up. Bearing in mind she’s just got her new clothes on she’s looking gorgeous again .. she’s beautiful anyway.
Now this is a strange passage of words. The first sentences are straight and believable. Then the fact he mentions her new clothes is bizarre and not relevant to the other words.
These clothes are obviously important to him. I think there’s a slip here that he thinks she wasn’t gorgeous to him until she put the new clothes on, he tries to cover up by correcting himself to say she was always beautiful.
It’s possible there is more control here. She was only gorgeous to him when wearing clothes he’d picked or approved of.
I got home and I took my clothes off. I’m laying on the sofa, the television is on. I’m in my boxer shorts, I’ve put a bath bomb in the bath that she bought for me that day. I don’t use bath bombs, but I thought, ‘fuck it let’s just do a bath bomb’.
This is the second time he says, “I got home”, so there’s a marker that deception is happening and this is not a truthful telling of events.
Another marker is the amount of present tense he’s used here. “I’m laying”, “the television is on” and “I’m in my boxer shorts:.
He does have a focus on what the pair of them were wearing that night. He may consider that wearing his boxer shorts is attractive. He thinks she looks good and the bath he’s poured is not for him (at least not for him alone) it isn’t a jump to conclude he may have been expecting sexual activity.
“Fuck up let’s just do a bath bomb” is another line that is reminiscent of describing the abuse of drugs.
And the bath’s run and I’m thinking: ‘Where’s Shannon?… Where’s Shannon?’ I’m not worrying, and I’m trying to phone her, but she’s not one to answer her phone, you know, if she wants to talk to you she’ll phone you. And say right... so I’m sort of laying there. I’m in my boxer shorts I’m on my sofa I’m - I’m - I’m - I’m 13 stories up you know it’s a 16 story block of flats so count 4 down I’m more or less at the top.
There is a lot more present tense here and repetition around the bath and the boxer shorts and his position on the sofa.
I note that he doesn’t mention the dog at all after it has served its purpose in this story.
I want to know why he tells us he’s not worrying. Is it because they’ve had an argument and so it’s very reasonable that she hasn’t come home? Is it because she regularly goes missing?
He says he tries to phone her, but then talks about how in general she doesn’t answer her phone, not what happened when he tried to call her that night.
There is a lurch in his words to tell us how high his apartment is. This is understandable considering what happened that night and with the stuttering that comes before it, you can see talking about this is stressful. That stress would be there regardless if he did something wrong that evening or is blameless.
And the leather sofa I had ..well have in my flat it’s a L shaped leather sofa which backs up to the window
This short sentence is instructive. He uses the past tense had to show his ownership of the sofa. He realises he still owns the sofa and switches it to the present tense have. This shows he has a firm grasp of tense use, which makes observations on his tense use earlier valid.
She had the clothes on that I’d bought for her that day, that we’d been shopping for… We had a nice day and she just came in and said ‘I’m sick of the world, and I’m sick of the people in it. And she she got on the .. she got on the sofa ...the window just... and she just....... jumped.
He mentions the clothes again and says they had a nice day. I’ve seen enough of this now to conclude that he is trying too hard to persuade us they had a nice day that they didn’t have happy day, that they were unhappy and argued. And that he’s attempting to portray himself as a nice guy who buys clothes for his girlfriend.
He uses “just” here and “just” often hides events. I believe more happened than her coming in and saying she’s sick of the world, and more happened than her climbing on the sofa and jumping.
Jumping is a term used to describe people taking their life by falling from a height. One can’t generally jump through a window, and his lack of description here is noted. If he detailed more steps that happened, I’d be more inclined to think this passage was truthful.
She jumped out the fucking window, and I grabbed her.
I couldn’t hold her… and then her shoe came off.
He’s used the term jumped again. Jumped is a final term, once you’ve jumped, the jump is complete. And yet, it wasn’t complete because he grabbed her. If he said, “she tried to jump, and I grabbed her” it would hang together much better.
More details feel to be missing, he doesn’t explain why her shoe coming off was important. We can guess, but that he doesn’t say it explicitly is a marker.
Want to laugh
He is asked how he feels about being arrested after her death. He says:
That just makes me want to laugh. I tried to save Shannon… I did my best to pull her back inside. I couldn’t do it, and I’ll beat myself up every day for that.
He says it makes him want to laugh, not that it makes him laugh. The next part is straightforward and believable. That’s not to conclude he had no part in her death, but his words that he tried to save her from falling feel more truthful than many things he said.
Neighbours say they heard arguing before the fall, he is asked “were you angry at her that night?”
No, no, The only noise that came from me that night is me saying, ‘You’re going to die if you drop’, and ‘I can’t hold you’.
He does say “no” but doesn’t give a more reliable denial such as “no I wasn’t angry” or “no we’d had a great day, there was nothing to be angry about.” He then goes on to discuss the noise from him, he wasn’t asked about the noise.
Now, if events happened as he says that she was fed up with the world and wanted to end it all, then saying to her that she’d die if she dropped seems odd. “Is me saying” is present tense again.
Once more his deceptive words appear to be him attempting to show what a nice person he is.
For all the deception in his words describing events in the apartment that night, I don’t see as much deception or storytelling as I do when he talks about events previously in the day.
Also, while is some evidence in his words that he is abusive and controlling, I don’t see that he’s hiding violence or a violent personality. He talks more about his internal thoughts than external actions.
I wasn’t there, I don’t know what happened but from studying his words I have the following opinions:
This was a troubled relationship, not a happy one at all. There was a power imbalance and the boyfriend was abusive and controlling.
On the day she died, they had at least one falling out and it was so bad they went their separate ways.
Those events and possibly an argument about sex led to her not being in a great place mentally. Potentially, she threatened to throw herself out of the window.
Something caused her to fall, he did try to stop that fall but couldn’t.
And that’s it. I’m not going to come to a theory that I can’t back up. I would have many questions to press on the boyfriend if I ever spoke to him.
The podcast is an absorbing listen
And here is the article that I mentioned
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One of the elements of word analysis I love is that I will never spot everything in a decent sized statement.
I noted in the post that the boyfriend talked more about his internal thinking rather than his external actions.
However I realised on the night he talks twice about laying on the sofa, as if he wants us to picture him relaxed. Once he says “sort of laying” so there was more to it than that.
I think it’s most likely there was some sort of drug or alcohol use being hidden there but it is noted.
He also says he “grabbed” her as she went went out the window which is a more violent term than alternatives such as caught or held.