Analysis of a murder suspect

Army Staff Sergeant John Wayne Mackay has been arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder.  Mackay’s wife, Dana was found murdered in the couple’s home in Virginia.  Mackay and his admitted mistress Nicole Houchin have been charged in the case.  Police say Houchin is who committed the murder but had conspired with Mackay to do so as they acted out on a professed fantasy of murdering Dana Mackay.

Screen shot 2013-09-26 at 7.01.35 AM

:48 “What happened to her“- Soft tone, distancing (fails to mention his wife’s name).  Soft tone is often used by guilty people as a way of lessening the impact of there crime. Strong tone would be “…after Dana’s murder…”.

1:10 “within 3 seconds”- The liar’s number(people not telling the truth have a tendency to use the number “3” in their stories, McClish, 2012)

1:50 Guilt/shame display, distancing- Eyes, head turn down and away, leans back

Guilt shame

1:55 Guilt/shame display

1:59 Failure to answer/responds with question

2:00 Gestural slip/ Behavioral delay- downward turned mouth=bitterness. It also fills a delay in conversation with behavioral pause(providing time to formulate a response). It can symbol regret (though in this case it can be regret for what he did or for getting caught- we don’t know).


2:06 Distancing “when you’re playing this game…” -No “me” or “I”

2:09 Shift in pronoun use “Oh, I  didn’t mean that…”- goes to “I” when talking about intentions.

2:14 Shift in pronoun use “you can just put that in the corner…”-back to “you”.  Pronoun shifts are indicative of deception.

Throughout the video, Mackay shows insincere sadness with a blend of hostility.  Also, his body language is closed (he is handcuffed to the front, but he still shows little confidence in his body language in his shoulders). The lines in his forehead are caused by lateral raising of the brows.  In sadness I would expect to see more oblique brow raises.  There is no drooping of the eyelids, which would indicate more sadness.  Instead there is an abundance of hostility, as evidenced by his tilting his head forward and the amount of white visible in his eyes (in a relaxed state you usually display “two whites” on each side of the iris- when there is 3 or even 4, the individual is displaying a heightened state of arousal/adrenaline).

3 whites

Mackay could very well be showing these emotions because he is angry at his mistress, Houchin, for murdering his wife and getting him in trouble.  This doesn’t seem likely, however, because the need to display fake sadness shouldn’t be there.  If he truly loved his wife and is mourning her death, I would expect his emotional display to be sincere and heartfelt.  Based on the video I have seen, I don’t believe Mackay is being genuine.

There are several other indicators of deception in this video and multiple body language reads.  For more material on Mackay, the full interview is here:

Mackay is innocent until proven guilty, and I am not concluding he is guilty.  I have no access to any of the evidence in the case and absent all relevant facts, I don’t make such declarations.  This analysis is based solely upon my observations of the included video.  That being said, I suspect Mackay has a long, difficult legal battle ahead of him.


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