Susan Smith pleaded to television cameras to find the man she said kidnapped her two sons in 1994 in South Carolina. Charles Stuart did the same in Boston in 1989, spinning an elaborate tale about how he and his pregnant wife were abducted and shot after leaving the hospital. This week on Long Island, says Newsday, William Walsh Jr., with red eyes and trembling voice, begged for public help to find his missing wife, Leah. All were charged in the deaths of their family members, fitting a criminal profile of defendants’ staging dramatic and public expressions of grief and composing detailed stories that just don’t add up.
“You’d think if you perpetrated something you’d want to keep a low profile and give as few details as possible,” said Stephanie Lake of the Criminal Justice Program at Adelphi University. “But some of these people almost enter into some kind of psychological state where they try to believe it themselves, convince themselves that there were some outside perpetrators.” Forensic psychologists who watched videotapes of Walsh cited signs of less-than-truthful behavior. “He seems to be not looking anybody in the eye,” said Lawrence Kobilinsky, chairman of the Department of Sciences at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “And I didn’t see a single tear.”