Can we decipher the words that people speak? Are subliminal messages revealed if we analyze language or read between the lines? Can additional information be gained from the way people tell a story or the words they choose? Can we separate the guilty from the innocent? I originally set out to strictly look at the 911 calls from the Anne Dunlap case, but I only found transcription from one 911 call. Rather than base everything on the one 911 call, I decided to evaluate any direct quotes from Anne Dunlap’s husband, who I will refer to as, “B” going forward. Did he unconsciously reveal any extraneous information to the police or the public?
The primary source of human behavior is the unconscious mind (Freud, 1915). Freud’s revelations divided the mind into three levels: conscious, preconscious, and unconscious. People are completely aware of what is going on in the conscious mind. The preconscious mind is somewhat of a gatekeeper between the conscious and unconscious mind. Lastly, the unconscious mind is completely unaware of the information stored there.
Primitive human urges often do not reach consciousness because they are unacceptable to our conscious selves (Freud, 1915). Freud argued that people repress and/or develop defense mechanisms to avoid knowing what their unconscious feelings and motivations are. He compared the unconscious mind to an iceberg. The conscious mind is what is visible. The preconscious mind is just below the surface of what is seen. The unconscious mind is the part that is not seen…yet is the most important. Stored in the unconscious and powerfully influenced by people’s past decisions lies their decisions, motives, and feelings
In my novice interpretation, I assumed nothing. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I may go deep and get nit-picky, but I based my opinion on B‘s words only. In my opinion, innocence or guilt was not absolutely or obviously revealed by B‘s words. Sometimes, what we don’t say is at least as important as what we share. However, pieced together, the truth may come to light.
The first of four 911 calls, came from B at approximately 9:00 p.m. on December 30, 1995, the day Anne went missing.
- “911? Hi, I was hoping you could tell me the procedure of who I might call.
- My wife left to go shopping about seven hours ago(according to her husband, B.)
- and I have not heard from her since,
- and I was expecting her back a long time ago.
What was the call about..? B is reporting a situation that is not technically a crime at this point. He is not requesting help for Anne (as a typical 911 caller might), but requesting assistance for himself. In an emergency, callers want to relay information as quickly as possible. B is offering more information and detail than is needed in his call. The call could have been shortened to, “My wife is missing! I need help!”
Who was the call about..?
The majority of 911 calls are emergencies for the caller or another person with the caller. Either way, the topic of the call remains on the victim. Examples; “I’ve been shot! Help me!” or, “My son can’t breathe! He needs an ambulance!” In the 911 call above, B mentions, “his wife” once. In fact, he doesn’t mention her name at all. B only refers to her as, “my wife.” With that said, he refers to himself (“I”) four times. B is who the call was about. His call is focused on help for himself, not help for Anne (at this point anyway).
How was the call made..?
911 is an emergency line. ~Merriam-Webster defines emergency as; 1. an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action. 2. an urgent need for assistance or relief.~ An emergent situation should be treated as such. If B called 911, he must have thought Anne was in serious danger. However, does B‘s emotional tone fit the seriousness of a call to 911? In the 911 call above, B‘s language, while extremely polite and respectful, does not have a sense of urgency. Politely and patiently reporting a crime and the events of the day is incongruent to behavior of a dire situation.
Order is also important in an emergent call, but I feel that B‘s statements are out of order. First, he asked the 911 operator to help him with the procedure. Second, he told the operator about his “wife” going shopping 7 hours ago. Third, B hadn’t heard from her. Fourth, B expected her home a long time ago. The most important thing in this call is that Anne Dunlap is missing! That should have been the first thing he told the 911 operator.
On January 1, 1996, as Law Enforcement and friends of the Barbers and Dunlaps searched for Anne’s car, B told reporters,
“We were supposed to meet at 4:30 that night [December 30, 1995] to go out to dinner. She never showed up.”
I have always thought B‘s statement, “She never showed up” odd. It sounds too casual as if she stood him up. Keep in mind, he made this statement roughly 41 ½ hours since he last saw Anne alive. ‘She never came home’ would have made more sense to me, along with some emotion perhaps. People all handle stress in different ways, but his way always seemed too casual to me. B called 911 after she was 4 ½ hours late, but add 35 more hours, and she just, “never showed up.”
Per police statements, it was B who instructed the search party to check for Anne’s car at the Kmart on Lake Street in South Minneapolis. There, the car was found in the parking lot, unlocked, with the keys in the ignition. Law Enforcement, friends and family, and the media filled the area. B stood in front of his wife’s car as a bloodhound circled it. Simultaneously and phlegmatically, he made the following statement on camera;
- “It’s strange because the keys are in it.
- I don’t know what that means~
- ~but I am just real hopeful that there is something in the car~
- ~maybe fingerprints or a clue…
- We are grasping at straws at this point.
- We can only hope and pray at this point.”
First and foremost, what I found curious about these statements is that, again B makes no mention of Anne’s name. A bloodhound is circling Anne’s car. Anne has been missing for 2 days. He alerted Anne’s parents to return home from their cabin when Anne was only 2 ½ hours late. He has called all of the local hospitals (per his account) looking for Anne. He made 4 calls to 911 for assistance in Anne’s disappearance. He rallied many of Anne’s friends and family to search for her. He still doesn’t mention Anne’s name.
Breaking down his words, at first it seems that he is stating the obvious. However, at the same time, he points out things that deflect from the obvious. What he comments on and chooses to point out do not seem natural;
- Why is it strange because the keys are in the car? First, I think most people were most concerned that the car was found, but Anne was not. I doubt whether or not the keys were in the car mattered. Second, others found it strange that her car would be in a Kmart parking lot, at all. I guess B didn’t think that part was strange. Where is Anne?
- It is strange that the keys are in the car, but then, “doesn’t know what that means.” Why is it strange then? B seems to be pulling back from his revelation about the keys being in the car. Where is Anne?
- B is just real hopeful they find something in the car. I would think anyone in this situation would be freaking out if their spouse was missing for 2 days and only her car was found. B seems to think this is a good thing and is hoping for even more good news of finding something in the car. Where is Anne?
- B is hoping for fingerprints or a clue… Why doesn’t he hope that they can find Anne! Her car was just found. They could be close to finding her. Where is Anne?
- The idiom, ‘grasping for straws’ means a desperate attempt to save oneself. Where is Anne?
- Why is there only hope and prayer left? It sounds like B is giving up. Why? Does he know more than we do at this point?
Where is Anne?
B speaking to media again while still in front of Anne’s car and the circling bloodhound (CBS, Murphy, 2013).
- We are as happily married as people could be.
- We are in the process of building a home right now in Medina.
- It’s our dream house.
- We are planning a family.“
In the above excerpt, I assume that a member of the media asked B if he and Anne had any marital problems. As far as Anne’s friends and family and their mutual friends, this all seemed to be true for her. I don’t know if B had his own friends aside from their mutual friends. I also don’t remember B’s family weighing in. A previous business partner, JB stated that B didn’t feel Anne gave him enough space, and that the couple had been in counseling for years. It seems odd to make these extraneous comments in this setting. In addition, I’d think verbalizing these wonderful words and plans for the future with his wife who is still missing would cause him to break-down. It didn’t.
Later in 1996, B told KSTP about a search warrant for the Minneapolis home where the couple was living at the time Anne was murdered.
- “The police went through it very thoroughly.
- They just wanted, I guess, to shake me down~
- ~and have me say that I had something to do with Anne’s death.”
- Props to the police department. They went through the house very thoroughly.
- They just wanted to, “shake you down?” Really? Collins English Dictionary’s definition; “If someone shakes you down, they use threats or search you physically in order to obtain something from you.” I guess the police were shaking you down. However, that is their job.
- The police were trying to, “have you say you had something to do with Anne’s death?”
His words are cold and insensitive. The police are doing their job by investigating Anne’s murder, not her death. She didn’t just die.
- As her husband, he should have been the first in line to unconditionally fight for her! Anne suffered a horrific death. She deserves to be fought for!
- Why wasn’t he selfless and do whatever possible to get justice for his wife?
- Why didn’t he work with the police and share as much as possible about Anne and her life? Even if it meant being under the microscope to be cleared!
- How can her murder be solved if Anne and B’s mutual friends also choose not to speak to police?
- How could any murder be solved if police were unable to learn about the victim? In any murder investigation, police start with people closest to the victim and work outwards.
- How can Anne’s murder be solved if police cannot rule out her husband?
~Where does your loyalty lie?
~Be selfless for Anne.
~Too much time has passed to ignore anymore.
~Her Name is Anne.
Hauser, T. & KSTP (2017, December 29). New Website Puts Spotlight on Unsolved Dunlap Murder. Retrieved from http://kstp.com/news/new-website-puts-spotlight-on-unsolved-dunlap-murder/4724959/
Lowe, C., & WCCO. (2006, February 02). Cold Case: Anne Barber Dunlap. Retrieved from http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2006/02/02/cold-case-anne-barber-dunlap/
McLeod, S. A. (2015). Unconscious mind. Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/unconscious-mind.html
Murphy, E. & CBS (2013, May 16). Minneapolis Police Reopen Anne Dunlap Murder Case. Retrieved from http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2013/05/16/minneapolis-police-reopen-anne-dunlap-murder-case/