Making A Murderer, Chapter 1, Episode 1: Tom Kocourek Body Language Analysis

Chapter 1 / Episode 1 / Eighteen Years Lost

Tom Kocourek, Manitowoc Sheriff (1979-2001)

In the last post, we concluded by learning about shoulder shrugs. Shoulder shrugs are so common that we only have to look to the next character, Tom Kocourek, to see another one. This time it’s a one-sided shoulder shrug, the one we have to be most wary of.

Tom Kocourek

“No one ever intended to do anybody any harm by this. We firmly believed that we had the guilty party at the time.” 

Tom Kocourek’s one-sided shoulder shrug is at odds with his words–his words and actions are misaligned. Incongruences such as this are red flags in the world of deception detection. If we take a closer look at where in the sentence his left shoulder shrugs, we see it as he says, ‘firmly believed’.

Maybe, there was no initial intention to do anybody any harm, we can’t confirm or deny that, but what we can decipher, is that Tom Kocourek does not fully believe his own words in his second sentence, ‘We firmly believed that we had the guilty party at the time’. What could be more revealing than that?

We can conclude that there was not a firm belief that Steven was guilty. Coming from the Manitowoc Sheriff, this is hugely significant. It suggests there was some belief that Steven Avery was innocence. Why then, was he–is he–locked up?


Shoulder Shrug Meaning

If you haven’t read the previous post, here’s a rundown of what a shoulder shrug means.

The full shoulder shrug (both shoulders) is a common and interesting gesture, cropping up again and again within our daily lives–we just need to open our eyes to observe it. Its close relative is the one-sided shoulder shrug. The two gestures are opposite in meaning, yet both can be revealing and significant, depending on the words they accompany. The full shoulder shrug tells us that the speaker is confident in their words. They wholeheartedly believe what they are saying.

In stark opposition to the full shoulder shrug, is the one-sided shoulder shrug. It tells us that the speaker is not confident in their words. Pause for a moment and consider the significance–this is a non-verbal communication cue that points towards deception, a signal that should put us on high alert. The one-sided shoulder shrug doesn’t tell us the whole truth, but it does point towards the truth.


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