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John E. Reid & Associates, Inc. proudly congratulates one of our graduates for doing an outstanding job using the "Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation" to resolve the Featured Case.

Robert "Jerry" DeFatta
Security Investigator for Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana

Career Profile / Reid Training
Jerry has been conducting internal investigations for Horseshoe Casino for over 8 years. Has also been a licensed private investigator in the state of Louisiana for over 5 years and is the owner of DeFatta & Associates Investigative Services. Total of 17 years experience in security and law enforcement. (

Reid Training:

Jerry first attended the Regular course on The Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation in 1995, and re attended the 3-day Regular course in 1999 as well as the Advanced course. He recently became certified in the Reid Technique and is a member of the Reid Institute.

Case Facts
In September, an employee reported that her credit card had been used to make unauthorized purchases. She remembered that approximately (2) weeks earlier she noticed that her credit card was placed back in her wallet in a different compartment than she normally kept it in. On this day she had left her purse on the floor in her office while she worked in another area during the night shift. The door to her office was locked and only a Housekeeping employee had been in the office during her shift. When she got her bank statement she noticed two (2) charges totaling approximately $300.00 which she had not made. These charges where made on the day after she noticed that someone had gone through her purse.

My partner and I began to investigate the matter and identified the Housekeeping employee who had cleaned the office that night. We also learned that this employee had recently moved into a bigger apartment due to the birth of his son. Further investigation reveled that one of the items purchased, a CD changer remote, had been delivered to his new address. After discovering this fact, the employee was called in for an interview. Before the interview we also learned that this same Housekeeping employee had been a suspect in an earlier case where $20.00 was stolen from an employee's purse in another area he had been assigned to clean.

Behavior Analysis Questions:
Q. "Do you know why I've asked to talk to you today?
A. "I was told on the phone that it was something about something missing from a purse or something"

Q. "That's right. An employee reported that her credit card had been used to make unauthorized purchases. If you had anything to do with that you should tell me that now."
A. "...I don't even know what you are talking about, I don't remember seeing any purse"

Q. "Do you know who did?"
A. "Like I said, I don't know anything about this"

Q. Alibi - Tell me what you did when you went into the office that day?
A. "I never touch anything when I am cleaning, I just do my job."

Q. "Do you think anyone did use the employees credit card to make unauthorized purchases?"
A. "....Like I said, I don't remember seeing a purse"

Q. "Who do you think would have had the best opportunity to do this?"
A. "Anybody could have gone in that office, I'm not the only one who goes in the offices."

Q. "Did you ever think about taking anything without authorization from the rooms you clean?"
A. "No, I don't take things from others"

Q. "What do you think should happen to the person who did make unauthorized purchases on this employees' credit card?"
A. "I can't say, ...It's not up to me....I guess what ever is supposed to happen"

Q. "Do you think the person would deserve a second chance?"
A. "It depends on what happened"

Q. "How do you think the investigation will turn out as far as you're concerned?"
A. "I hope I come out ok, .....I didn't do anything wrong"

Bait Question:
Fingerprints on the purse.

Prior to asking the Bait question I asked the suspect if he had seen the purse in question. He had stated he had never seen the purse. I then asked him;

Q. "As a standard procedure in a case like this we will have the purse dusted for finger prints, as you probably know finger prints are unique to each individual. Do you think when we have the purse dusted for fingerprints, that we will find your fingerprints on the purse?
A: "Sometimes I have to move things to clean and I might have moved the purse.

Q: "Is there any reason why, if we were to lift the prints off the wallet in the purse, that they would be identified as yours?"
A: "The wallet could have fallen out of the purse when I was moving it."

During the interview the employee displayed a very closed posture and gave very evasive answers to most of the questions asked.
Themes and Alternatives

I conducted an interrogation regarding the unauthorized use of the credit card.

The theme used was to suggest that the employee had used the credit card to purchase things for his new apartment and newborn son. I contrasted this with selling the credit card in exchange for drugs.

I also used a role reversal;
  • I placed the subject in his supervisors' position. I ask him to compare two employees: one who admitted he had made a bad decision who wanted to make the situation right, and the other who did not care and told you to prove it. He was then asked which of these two employees he would have more respect for.
    He said he would have more respect for the one who explained himself
The alternative question
  • I asked him whether he used the credit card to buy things his family needed or did he use it for drugs.

The subject accepted the positive side of the alternative. He admitted going into the employee's purse and writing down her credit card number. He then admitted using the credit card number to purchase a CD changer remote and to have his cable turned on. He stated he just wanted his 4-month-old son to have some type of entertainment. He also stated that he was just going to use the credit card number as a security deposit. He claimed he thought the company would send him a bill but they had charged the card before he was able to make any payment.

After obtaining his confession and the details of this incident, I confronted him on the previous theft of $20.00. He confessed to this crime as well. He stated that he was moving two (2) purses to clean under them and that the money had fallen out of one of them. He then stated that he did not know which purse it had fallen out of and decided to keep it.

At the conclusion of his interview, I contacted the police and the subject restated his admissions to them. His employment was terminated and he was charged with the crimes. The final outcome of this case is still pending.

The suspect's rationalization of the crime was that he found lost property and he was entitled to keep it and use it as he wished. Unfortunately, the laws of Louisiana clearly state that, "...the taking of anything of value, without the owner's consent," constitutes theft.

Many times an interviewer can evaluate the attitude of a suspect by the way they answer the Behavioral Analysis Interview Questions. During this interview the subjects displayed typical deceptive attitudes as illustrated in the way the subject answers the following BAI questions.

Unrealistic / Unhelpful / Unconcerned - When asked about his possible knowledge or involvement in the issue he stated "something, about something missing, from a purse or something"..... "I don't even know what you're talking about, I don't remember seeing a purse." The subject offers as little information as possible and acts as though this is an inconvenience to him.

Concerning who would have had the best opportunity to steal the credit card numbers, the subject stated "anyone can go into that office, I'm not the only one who goes into the offices." The subject knew that he and the owner of the purse were the only ones to go into that office on the night in question. This statement was designed to intentionally mislead the investigator.

Minimizing - Concerning the punishment the offender should receive, the suspect said "I can't's not up to depends on what happened" The suspect is unwilling to express a harsh punishment. By suggesting such lenience he implies that this is not that serious of a crime, therefore, there should not be serious consequences. Deceptive suspects try to take advantage of every opportunity to minimize the seriousness of the offense hoping to influence the attitude of the investigator towards the investigation.

Lacks Confidence - Concerning the outcome of the investigation the suspect stated "I hope I come out ok...." Truthful suspects are confident that they will be exonerated and do not use the word "hope" in their response as we see in this suspects answer.

The case facts in this case strongly implicate the suspect.
  • The suspect received delivery of one of the items that was charged on the stolen credit card number.
  • He was also the only housekeeping person on the night shift the evening the credit card number was stolen.

Therefore the interview was not as extensive as it may have been if the case facts were not so incriminating. Because of the thorough investigation done prior to the interview there was a high level of confidence that this subject was guilty.

We are often asked why we interview suspects that we know are guilty instead of immediately going into an accusatory interrogation. Here are a few reasons why it is advisable to interview suspects before you interrogate them.

  1. The interview helps to develop rapport and change the suspects' perception of the interviewer. Most suspects come into an interview with the perception that the investigator is out to "get" them. If you were to bring the suspect in and immediately accuse him of the crime, that would serve to reinforce that perception. However, if you interview him in a non-accusatory manner it will give the suspect the impression that you are being fair, objective, and that you are not rushing to judgement. It also allows the interviewer the opportunity to get to know the suspect and the suspect to get to know the interviewer. This will help to develop the rapport necessary to develop the trust needed to secure a confession in the interrogation.
  2. The interview will help the interrogator maintain control in the interrogation. If you do not interview a suspect before you interrogate him, you will not have given him an opportunity to "tell his side of the story". When you begin your monologue, or theme development, in the interrogation the suspect may interrupt you by saying, "You're not giving me a chance to tell my side of the story." If you did not interview them first you may have no choice but to allow them to give their alibi. One of our objectives in the interrogation is to try to keep the suspect quiet. If you interview them before you interrogate them it will provide you with the necessary leverage to keep them quiet. You can simply remind them that they had their chance to explain themselves in the interview.
  3. Interviewing a suspect increases their level of anxiety. This is important because suspects generally make the decision to admit guilt because their anxiety level has become more of a concern to them than the fear of the consequences. One of the things that heightens a suspects anxiety level is the interview. During the interview the suspect will lie about their knowledge and involvement in the crime. The suspect will also try to be evasive in their responses to avoid telling lies. However a skilled interviewer will make evasion very difficult for the suspect by asking follow up questions. The suspect will begin to perceive the interviewer as someone who is not going to be easy to lie to. This raises the suspects' anxiety and lowers their confidence level.
  4. The interview allows the opportunity to ask the Bait question. Even though the bait question was not needed to determine that this suspect was guilty, it served to create uncertainty in the suspects' mind. "Do they already have my prints?" "Are they having them analyzed as we speak?" This has a tendency to create a higher level of anxiety in the suspect.