What the Media Missed in the Karen Ristevski Case; The Single Nonverbal Cue that Points Towards the Truth

I check the news every morning to see if there's anything interesting to write about. I'm usually looking for nonverbal cues that have specific meaning, usually those that contradict the spoken word and point towards deception. These cues are the most reliable and give us insight into the reality of the situation; the truth. My mission is to educate you. To give you so many examples of these cues that you start to notice them in the people around you. So that you are better able to understand the true feelings of others, which allows you to formulate a more appropriate response, ultimately improving your interactions and relationships.

One of the news topics I'm always on the lookout for, is the case of Karen Ristevski, who disappeared from her home in Melbourne, Australia, earlier this year. Today's news brought this case to the headlines once again, after little mention of it for several months. The reason I've been so interested in this case, is down to a single nonverbal cue, displayed by Borce Ristevski, Karen's husband, back in July. Ever since then, I've been waiting to hear the outcome of this case, because to me, it's glaringly obvious that Borce is hiding the truth. And it's all down to one single nonverbal cue.

You may have seen the video clip that I'm referring to. At the time, news articles surrounding this were focused on Borce's behaviour; his refusal to answer the question "Did you kill Karen?".  His refusal was in his lack of verbal response, but also in his physical distancing behaviour, when he turned away, stepped back, then walked away. This is 100% nonverbal behaviour, there is no verbal component. It's powerful because it tells us that he really doesn't like the question, but that's all it tells us. It doesn't tell us why he doesn't like the question. We can make assumptions from this behaviour and we can deduce that an innocent person would be more willing to respond to that question, and be more cooperative. Because innocent people usually are more cooperative. Yet we still don't know the truth. Only Borce himself knows the answer to that question. 

But that isn't the nonverbal cue that's been nagging away at me for months; the cue that went unnoticed by the media and the public; the cue that tells us a whole lot more.

I promise I'll get to it in a moment, but first I'd like to give you (my regular readers) an opportunity to spot the cue yourself (video below), since I've been working hard to teach you about these cues. If you haven't read my work before and are unfamiliar with nonverbal communication cues, either have a go yourself, or scroll down to below the video. 

Here are a couple of clues, because it's a tricky one to spot:

  • Don't take your eyes off Borce in the background, focus on his face.

  • Listen to Patricia Gray's statements and look for a change in Borce's nonverbal response to the stimulus (a specific statement).

It's a hard one to spot, don't be disheartened if you don't see it. If you do spot it; kudos!

What was the nonverbal cue? 

An eyelid flutter... Did you spot it? 

The eyelid flutter is a reliable, involuntary behaviour, a response to internal turmoil, picture it being like an internal temper tantrum, an "Oh my gosh", at a point of contention. It was in direct response to Patricia's statement, "if that was the case", which is where the giveaway is. Let's have a look at that statement in context:

Journalist: "Patrice, do you know anyone who might have wanted to harm Karen?"

Patricia: "No I don't. There is absolutely nobody. And if that was the case, we would have already know something about that..."

So here we have the husband of the missing person, inadvertently signalling his point of contention with the statement, "if that was the case". Suggesting that 'it is the case, he does know someone that might have wanted to harm Karen'. This is highly significant and concerning. Let me reiterate: This is an involuntary cue that is reliable in its meaning. Team it with the stimulus, a significant statement. We end up with a very revealing indication towards the truth.

It's important to note that Patricia did not display any nonverbal cues of significance, indicating that she believes her own statement. Is Borce the only one that knows of someone that would harm Karen? We still don't know the truth, but in this observation we've pinpointed an area that needs further investigation or questioning. If indeed Borce is willing to cooperate. 

For my regular readers: 

While looking for the nonverbal cue in question, you probably noticed Borce display a couple of nonverbal cues that show stress and discomfort. 

  • Very high blink rate- 84 blinks per minute (relaxed average blink rate: 20 per minute; TV appearance average blink rate: 40 per minute). Such a high rate does raise some concern.

  • Blocking behaviour (arm held tightly across body).

Stress indicators do increase during deception, however they are not deceptive cues as such, so I usually discount these cues. Stress/discomfort would be normal in this context.

Another interesting observation is that I haven't seen one image of Borce showing the universal expression of genuine sadness, whereas his daughter shows this most of the time. We see this within the mouth, but mainly in the raised positioning of the inner corners of the eyebrows. 

Remember, we can never definitively say that someone is being deceptive, but we can use these cues as indicators that point towards the truth. Which gives us the ability to adapt our own response, questioning or investigating further, so that we can get to the truth. 

If you managed to spot the eyelid flutter, I'd love to hear from you!