Story transcripts

Unmasking the Truth

Friday, August 7, 2009

Reporter: Liz Hayes
Producer: Stephen Rice

Let's be honest, we've all told a lie or two. Usually they're pretty harmless and not very convincing. But there are bare-faced liars, people who try to get away with murder, quite literally.

You've seen them on the news, tearfully pleading for help in finding a missing loved one. And all the time, they know their husband, wife, even their own child, is already dead.

Now though, a new type of crime fighter is moving in to unmask these killers and their crocodile tears.

They're human lie detectors, who can pick up the smallest twitch, the slightest irregularity. One false move and you're gone.

Story contacts:

For more information on the work of Dr Paul Ekman go to:

For more information on the work of Professor David Canter go to:

Full transcript:


LIZ HAYES: We've all seen them and felt their anguish. The grieving son...

SEF GONZALES: My mother was the heart of my family, she was the heart of her friends and anyone who knew her.

LIZ HAYES: ..the desperate father...

JOHN SHARPE: My biggest fear is being denied a part of Gracie's future.

LIZ HAYES: ..the loving husband...

MARK GALANTE: I'm really worried about you. Your family, everyone is worried Let someone know you're alright, please.

LIZ HAYES: And then we discover we've been tricked. We were watching the killer all along.

VOICEOVER FROM NINE NEWS: A Sydney man who made desperate public appeals to find his wife's killer has now pleaded guilty to her murder.

LIZ HAYES: But if you had a sense, watching those Oscar-worthy performances, that something wasn't quite right, well, science is backing you up. Techniques that could catch terrorists before they strike, and even solve some of Australia's most controversial cases.

DR PAUL EKMAN: I look and I listen. Most people don't, and I pay attention to everything someone does, the voice, the gesture, the gaze, the expression, and I look for things that don't fit together.

LIZ HAYES: Dr Paul Ekman is a human lie detector. A world-renowned psychologist who has developed scientific techniques for reading faces and spotting deception.

DR PAUL EKMAN: There are micro-expressions, very fast expressions, that take 0.25 of a second, that most people don't see. There are the gestural equivalents of slips of the tongue which can reveal the truth.

SEF GONZALES: I'd like to speak briefly about my family.

LIZ HAYES: Dr Ekman has trained law-enforcement agencies around the world, including the FBI and Scotland Yard.

'LIE TO ME' EXCERPT VOICE ONE: You don't know what you're talking about.

'LIE TO ME' EXCERPT VOICE TWO: I know when you're lying.

LIZ HAYES: And his work in catching out criminals has been turned into a hit TV series, 'Lie to Me'.

'LIE TO ME' EXCERPT VOICE TWO: Eyebrows go up like yours, person knows the answer to the question they're asking.

'LIE TO ME' EXCERPT VOICE ONE: I didn't kill Miss McCartney.

'LIE TO ME' EXCERPT VOICE TWO: Now that's the truth.

LIZ HAYES: But truth is often stranger than fiction, and Australia has had more than its fair share of real killers lying through their teeth.

MARK GALANTE: If anyone has seen Jody, if anyone's heard anything...

LIZ HAYES: Three years ago, Mark Galante reported his wife Jody missing and made a public appeal for her return.

MARK GALANTE: We all love you, please come home.

LIZ HAYES: The truth was, Galante had lured his wife into the bush and shot her in the back of the head.

MARK GALANTE: Jody, please just let someone know as soon as possible you're OK.

LIZ HAYES: For Dr Ekman, it's those almost imperceptible expressions and movements that give Galante up.

DR PAUL EKMAN: Ah, now, the shoulder! Can you back up maybe 2 seconds? There do you see that shoulder?

LIZ HAYES: Yes, its minor.

DR PAUL EKMAN: Yes, we call it a fragment. It's usually an expression that the person isn't certain whether they can get away with what they're saying. I've not yet had a case where someone did it who wasn't lying.

MARK GALANTE: If anyone's seen Jody, anyone's heard anything, please contact the police as soon as possible.

DR PAUL EKMAN: Stop right there. One of the things he does again and again, he's already done it twice, is he shakes his head, like this.

MARK GALANTE: Please just let someone know as soon as possible you're OK.

DR PAUL EKMAN: He's not saying, "I can't believe what has happened!" No! At the same time he's asking people to give him information, he's telling them not to. And he is probably unaware that he is doing that.


LIZ HAYES: When 20-year-old Sydney law student Sef Gonzales made this seemingly terrified call to Triple 0, he had already brutally murdered his father, mother and sister. He, too, made a public appeal for help.

TRIPLE O OPERATOR: They have both been shot, have they?

LIZ HAYES: He too made a public appeal for help.

SEF GONZALES: Most of you are probably aware of the tragedy my family has experienced this week...

DR PAUL EKMAN: When he says, "..that my family has experienced this week," he has a trace of upper lip raise, which looks like this. It's a disgust sign.

SEF GONZALES: Most of you are probably aware of the tragedy my family has experienced this week...

DR PAUL EKMAN: It's there.


DR PAUL EKMAN: My bet is, he's really disgusted with himself.

PROFESSOR DAVID CANTER: Sef Gonzales was a very cold blooded murderer.

LIZ HAYES: Where Dr Ekman reads their faces, Professor David Canter tries to get inside their minds. He is an investigative psychologist, and Britain's top criminal profiler.

SEF GONZALES: The best way I could possibly describe my father is that he was my hero and role model...

PROFESSOR DAVID CANTER: This is part of the murder - this press conference and his having a script he works from, He is involved in in writing a novel here that people will accept, that will be plausible. And my guess is that at one level, he enjoyed all that. I mean, it really was an adventure that he felt he could be part of.

LIZ HAYES: Even terrorists can't hide from Dr Ekman. US intelligence and security agencies use Dr Ekman's techniques at airports around the country. Do you believe we would ever have been able to pick the 9/11 terrorists?

DR PAUL EKMAN: No question. These were terrible disguisers.

LIZ HAYES: And so too were the London bombers.

DR PAUL EKMAN: I have also looked at some of the video on the English bombers who bombed the subways and the buses, none of these people were very good at concealment.

LIZ HAYES: Australian police use similar techniques to unmask criminals.

DET-SGT SHANE BRUNDELL: Just from my policing experience, you get a gut feel on when somebody's genuine and sincere as opposed to when somebody's trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

LIZ HAYES: Homicide detective Shane Brundell has confronted plenty of cunning liars during his career.

DET-SGT SHANE BRUNDELL: The fact is, there will be changes in body language when somebody is trying to lie to you.

LIZ HAYES: So was John Sharp a bad liar?

DET-SGT SHANE BRUNDELL: Yes, a very bad liar. JOHN SHARPE Just want to ask Anna, or anyone who knows where she is, just anything daughter...

LIZ HAYES: In 2004, John Sharpe appealed to the public to help find his pregnant wife Anna and their missing 19-month-old daughter, Gracie. Det Sgt Brundell was assigned to the case.

DET-SGT SHANE BRUNDELL: One thing I also noticed that was consistent, is that he still couldn't look at the camera. He had his hand up over his face at times, it was contrived, it was a false emotion, and you know that he was lying.

LIZ HAYES: We now know Sharpe had already killed his wife and daughter, shooting them both in the head with a spear gun.

JOHN SHARPE: I'm a bit concerned now because the police are obviously making enquiries and haven't tracked her to date...

DR PAUL EKMAN: See how much upper lip raise he's doing?

LIZ HAYES: Is that disgust?


LIZ HAYES: He does that a lot.


JOHN SHARPE: I mean, I've spoken to Gracie but she can't... she doesn't talk, so...

DR PAUL EKMAN: And he has shown us, about three times, very long eye-blinks.

JOHN SHARPE: My daughter, that's all I'm really worried about - my daughter.

DR PAUL EKMAN: We interpret it as a sign that he is spending more time thinking about what he's saying or what he's going to say next than the situation requires.

REPORTER: Did you kill your wife Anna?

JOHN SHARPE: I haven't harmed my wife or my daughter, I haven't harmed either of them.

PROFESSOR DAVID CANTER: His answer is intriguing. For a start, there's a pause, there's not an immediate response. Second of all, he doesn't actually answer it. He doesn't say, "No, I didn't kill her." He actually says, "I didn't hurt my wife or my daughter," and that's what you find even in the most determined liars, is that they avoid telling the truth, rather than actually lying.

LIZ HAYES: So when he says, "I didn't hurt them," in his mind, he didn't hurt them? He killed them, but he didn't hurt them?


LIZ HAYES: My goodness. So what do our experts make of the case that has so divided Australians? Schapelle Corby was convicted of smuggling 4.1kg of marijuana into Bali, but has always maintained her innocence.

REPORTER: You weren't just being naive and silly and thinking, "I'll give it a shot,"?

SCHAPELLE CORBY: No, no, not if I could get the death penalty. Not if I can be in here for 20 years and never have a baby. I am innocent.

DR PAUL EKMAN: No, I don't think it's a clear cut one, one way or the other.

LIZ HAYES: While Dr Ekman couldn't call it, Professor Canter was convinced.

SCHAPELLE CORBY: that your boogie board? And I'm so excited, I'm having a holiday, I haven't been here for four years, and I say, "Yeah, it's mine," and I pick it up and I put it on the counter and...

PROFESSOR DAVID CANTER: I think there's an awful lot of what she says in that account that would tick boxes in terms of genuineness. The simple point is that, in order to invent you have to provide details, and therefore, if you're not giving a lot of details, there's less likelihood that it is genuine. She actually says what she was thinking about at the time.

SCHAPELLE CORBY: And then they come to me and say, "It's marijuana," and I'm like well, "Yeah, I can smell it's marijuana, but it's not mine. "This is my bag but this is not mine."

PROFESSOR DAVID CANTER: She actually gives gestures of what she did at the time. She has very immediate reactions to questions about what other people present were doing, that would actually be quite sophisticated to invent.

SCHAPELLE CORBY: This could happen to anyone, and it's happened to me...

PROFESSOR DAVID CANTER: It would support the notion that what she said is truthful. Music montage crime scenes etc

LIZ HAYES: It will almost always be good old-fashioned detective work that nails most crims. But spotting those tell-tale slip ups could make it just that bit harder for a gifted liar to get away with murder.

DR PAUL EKMAN: Once you learn to see them, you can't stop, you can't turn it off. But you have to be careful about how you use this information, because you're stealing it. You're taking information that someone doesn't want you to have.

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