In case any of you dabble in mystery writing, here’s what I told her…
1. Ask follow-up questions…
Liars anticipate obvious questions about an incident and they’re prepared. They look you “straight in the eye” and deliver the answers. But, you can easily agitate a suspect with a series of follow-up questions. Distracted by your face and your eyes, a liar will have a hard time concocting an answer. He will always look away, however briefly, before answering.
2. Then ask an oddball question.
Liars think they need to answer every question, no matter how unrelated or dumb, so ask one. “I know you were on the golf course and didn’t come home until four in the afternoon, Fred, but what, exactly, did you have for breakfast?” Watch the liar think-up an unnecessary answer: “Um, I had eggs. I need to eat a good breakfast when I play golf.” An honest man would say, “Huh? What the heck does that have to do with anything?”
3. Accuse him!
Innocent people are insulted when accused of something they didn’t do. They go on offense…
“Here’s the deal, Fred, I think you killed your Aunt Millie for her money.”
“What! Are you crazy?”
Conversely, a guilty person immediately goes on defense…
“I couldn’t have done that. I was at the golf course the whole time.”
4. Finally, trap him by inserting a bit of misinformation.
“Well, here’s what we know so far, Fred. The killer entered your Aunt Millie’s house around noon by cutting the rear screened door. He hit her on the head with a heavy lamp, robbed her and cleaned out her medicine cabinet (false info). It could possibly be a drug addict.”
“Her medicine cabinet? There have been a lot drug problems around here.”
This suspect didn’t say he had a key, and therefore, didn’t need to cut the screened door. He didn’t say that he loved his aunt and could never whack her with a lamp. He immediately seized on the convenient false info, which was the only part of the crime he didn't already know.
Is this guy guilty? I don’t know yet, but he moved up my short list…