Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3010: McStay Family Murders - Body Language Signs of a Sociopath (PHOTO)

This is a photo of Charles "Chase" Merritt taken earlier this year. He had been a suspect then and was subsequently arrested on 5 November 2014 for the alleged murder of the entire McStay family (Joseph, 40; Summer, 43; Gianni, 4 and Joseph Jr., 3). They disappeared from their home in near San Diego in February 2010 and their bodies were found in shallow graves near Victorville, California a year ago yesterday.

From a body language perspective there are several very significant tells in this photo.

Although his hat is on, we can see the central (medial) aspect of his eyebrows are contracted upwards - indicative of a central forehead contraction (CFC). Merritt also has a mostly suppressed mouth smile. Taken together, this suppressed mouth smile with a CFC is very suspicious in the context of a murder investigation or during an interview about the deceased - whom he knew well (Merritt was business partners with Joseph McStay). This nonverbal cluster is seen as manifestation of arrogance, incredulity, contempt or insincerity - although each of these emotions/mindsets certainly have other nonverbal tells - and thus we all make this expression from time to time. However when seen chronically the cluster of a central forehead contraction with a mouth smile - either full or partially suppressed - is highly consistent with sociopathic behavior.

In addition, also notice that both of Merritt's hands are fully inside of his front pockets. While it may have been a bit cold in February in Victorville, in this nonverbal context-cluster it is highly consistent with emotional discomfort, low confidence, evasiveness and deception that a murder suspect would have if he's being questioned by a journalist. Adding to this cluster is the elevation of Merritt's Shoulders (hunching) and foreshortening of his neck. This entire nonverbal moment is very much like a turtle pulling his head and limbs into his shell when he "must be there" and "can't escape" yet very much wants to retreat.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2259: Game Show Killer Rodney Alcala Gets Two More Sentences - His Body Language Warning Signs

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3006: Charles "Chase" Merritt - Arrested and Charged with Murder of the Entire McStay Family

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3009: Vladimir Putin, Chivalry and China's first lady Peng Liyuan

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2299:  Rihanna & Chris Brown at 2013 Grammys -  What Their Body Language Says

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2747: Adam Lanza's Warning Sign - Body Language

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2512:  Matthew Cordle's YouTube Confession  and the Death of Vincent Canzani  "I Killed a Man" - What His Body Language Tells Us ...  It's NOT what you think!

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2843: Barack Obama & Vladimir Putin in Normandy