Uncovering lies to solve a cold case: Experts reveal challenges at CrowdSolve

CrowdSolve: Chicago focused on the mysterious death of local teen Kurt Sova
Published: Feb. 27, 2020 at 9:03 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Hundreds of true crime fans gathered together with law enforcement and criminal experts in Chicago this past weekend to solve the mysterious death of a local teen at CrowdSolve: Chicago.

It’s an innovative approach to solving cold cases, using crowdsourcing to get fresh eyes on the case.

17-year-old Kurt Sova disappeared from a party in Newburgh Heights nearly 40 years ago.

His body was found five days later, in an area that had already been searched.

No exact cause of death was determined by the coroner.

Kurt Sova.
Kurt Sova.(Kevin Sova)

Cold cases present many challenges for investigators. Uncovering lies from decades ago is one of them.

19 News caught up with a former US Marshal and FBI agent at CrowdSolve to ask them how they detect deception.

“Focus on the language itself. Because people's words will betray them,” said retired Supervisory Deputy US Marshal Mark McClish.

McClish now runs Advanced Interviewing Concepts in North Carolina.

He detects deception through witness and suspect statements to police.

“People will always word their statement based on all their knowledge. Which means their statement may contain information which they did not intend to share,” he said.

McClish said the most common form of lying is by omission.

He focuses on words more than body language.

19 Investigates asked him how statements from Kurt's case hold up today.

“If it's decades later, sometimes they don't remember, even if they are being truthful, we don't always remember everything that happened 10, 20 years ago. And so that sometimes presents a challenge,” McClish said.

Mark McClish trains investigators on statement analysis.
Mark McClish trains investigators on statement analysis.(WOIO)

The next step in Kurt Sova's case may be re-interviewing people with information who are still out there.

Lie detector tests could be used too.

Jay Cherry is a polygraph examiner and spent two decades with the FBI.

He now owns Eagle Eye Polygraph in Batavia, Illinois.

“The same principals apply to way back when, we're looking at heart rate and blood pressure. And breathing, sweat gland activity,” Cherry said.

He said polygraphs guide investigations can point detectives in the right direction.

“Would a polygraph from the 1980s still be as accurate as it would be today?” Investigative Reporter Sara Goldenberg asked.

“A good test done then should hold its water today, however you would need to look at the charts, the results. You would need to look at the way the exam was conducted,” Cherry replied.

Cherry believes the polygraph can play a role in Kurt Sova's case moving forward.

He hopes his family gets closure.

“Maybe not the sole determining factor, but there might be some people out there that maybe should be tested whether it's to clear their name or to obtain further information,” Cherry said.

Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for any information leading to an arrest in Kurt Sova's case.

You can contact them at 216-25CRIME.

You can read more about CrowdSolve: Chicago and Kurt Sova’s case in this exclusive story from 19 News.

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