Killer soldier Miles Evans let slip two signs of deception as he appealed for help finding his stepdaughter days after he murdered the schoolgirl outside her home in an army town, a new documentary reveals.
Nine-year-old Zoe Evans went missing from her home in Warminster, Wiltshire, on 11 January 1997, shortly after her mother Paula had tucked her into bed and kissed her goodnight.
Days later Evans, an army lorry driver, appeared alongside his wife in a televised police appeal for information on the missing girl, faking his concern as he told Zoe there would be ‘lots of cuddles’ for her if she came home.
However Evans, a Private in the Royal Logistics Corps, was only playing the role of the concerned parent in a bid to deflect police interest in him. For 72 hours earlier he had taken Zoe from her bed, punched her in the face and suffocated her with her own t-shirt before dumping her body in a badger sett less than half a mile away.
One forensic psychologist explains Evans might have sexually abused his stepdaughter. The documentary claims that she had drawn pictures hinting at this abuse and had told friends of a ‘bogeyman’ who came into her room at night.
In the latest episode of Investigation Discovery’s Faking It: Tears of a Crime, body language expert Cliff Lansley re-examines footage of Evans’s appeal to reveal how he unconsciously gave away two signs of deception:
- He closed his eyes in a bid to distance himself from his statements
- He nervously touched his leg in an attempt to comfort himself
Chilling: Miles Evans, right, murdered his nine-year-old stepdaughter Zoe, left, in January 1997, before dumping her body in a disused badger sett. There was suggestion that she had been sexually abused. Evans, an army private, then appeared alongside his wife to appeal for help
Tell-tale signs: During the press conference Evans closed his eyes as he spoke about Zoe, in a sign he wanted to distance himself from his own words about the murdered schoolgirl
The press conference was held three days after Zoe disappeared from her bedroom.
In the intervening days, Evans had joined hundreds of police and volunteers, including soldiers from the barracks, in their search of the local area. At the time it was the biggest-ever police search for a missing child.
Evans and Paula started the press conference side-by-side, with Evans holding on to his wife as she fought back tears.
Overcome with emotion, Paula eventually ran out of the room, leaving Evans to finish the appeal on his own. It was then that his deception started to show.
Distraught: Mother Paula, right, was visibly distressed during the police press conference. However her husband, Zoe’s stepfather, did not show the same physical signs of sadnes
No tears: How Evans faked sadness
With the cameras on them, Zoe’s mother Paula wept as she begged her daughter to come home before running out of the room when she became too overwhelmed. Evans returned shortly after to continue the appeal alone.
However Evans’s attempts to look distressed fell short, especially when compared with the genuine heartache felt by his wife.
Mr Lansley says: ‘We see the stepfather with hardly any expression on his face, he’s looking downwards, but that doesn’t convince us [of sadness]… His brows are flat. There are no reliable indicators of sadness.
Fake: Evans tried to cry but his eyebrows showed that he did not feel real emotion
However, with Zoe’s mother earlier, we saw the brows raised, in the centre… It’s a genuine indicator of sadness.’
He added: ‘So if you don’t see that facial display, you need to question whether the emotion is being felt.’
Journalists who were in the room at the time confirmed that Evans appeared ‘controlled’ and recalled how he struggled to make eye contact with reporters. Others said he ‘sobbed’ but that there were no tears.
Mr Lansley explains: ‘[Evans is] making a claim, he wants [Zoe] to come home – “We really love you” – but those statements are being contradicted by an eye closure.
‘When the eyes close for a second, like they’ve done twice at this point, then that’s a clue that he’s not connecting with the words he’s saying. This could be deception.’
Lansley, who used to train staff at the US Department of Homeland Security, reveals how Evans also started fidgeting with his leg in a very telling fashion.
Police search: Zoe Evans apparently went missing from her home in Warminster, Wiltshire (seen far left foreground). Six weeks later the schoolgirl’s naked body was found in woodland less than half a mile away (indicated by the black arrow)
‘You’ll also notice from the upper arm, there’s a movement of the upper arm,’ Mr Lansley continued.
Criminal profiler: Zoe was killed by her abuser
As the police built their case against Evans, more information about Zoe came to light.
The documentary reveals how she had drawn pictures that suggested she had been abused. She’d also told friends about a so-called ‘bogeyman’ who came into her room at night.
Forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes, explains her theory on what happened to Zoe on the night of 11 January.
‘My theory is that he came into her room, as had maybe been routine for him, to sexually abuse her, and she recognised him,’ Ms Daynes says. ‘And maybe she started to scream, maybe she started to protest…
‘I believe he panicked, and thought, “What can I do? What am I going to lose here? I’m going to lose my wife, I’m going to be, erm, exposed for what I am”. And so he panicked, took her out of the house, and killed her.’
‘This suggests he’s manipulating on his knee. And this is something we do to comfort ourselves when we’re under stress.
‘So, is he under stress, and he’s manipulating his leg because of the TV cameras? Is he under stress because he’s fearing being disbelieved when he’s telling the truth? Or more likely, with the other signals, is he feeling stressed because he’s trying to get away with a lie?’
Two days after the press conference police found Evans’s T-shirt in a copse near the rear door of his home and a pair of Zoe’s knickers in a nearby field. Both were stained with her blood.
Six weeks after she went missing Zoe’s naked body was found partially buried in a disused badger sett on Battlesbury Hill, just over half-a-mile from the house.
Nigel Pascoe QC, prosecuting, told Bristol Crown Court she died from asphyxiation because her top was pushed into her mouth as a gag and she inhaled blood from her nose, which had been broken by a blow from Evans’s fist.
Evans has always maintained his innocent but was found guilty following trial and handed a life sentence in April 1998.
Husband who murdered his special constable wife was given away by a ‘sly smile’ in an ‘arrogant’ TV interview – and gave a ‘flat’ Crimewatch appeal that left producers feeling uneasy
In the latest episode of Investigation Discovery’s Faking It: Tears of a Crime, experts also analyse footage of another high profile murder: Fadi Nasri’s contracted killing of his wife, special constable Nisha Patel-Nasri, at their London home in 2006.
In May 2006, Nisha Patel-Nasri, a special constable with the Metropolitan Police, was left to bleed to death on her doorstep in Wembley, London.
Murdered for money: Husband Fadi Nasri hired two hitmen to kill wife Nisha Patel-Nasri, pictured on their wedding day in 2003, at the home they shared in Wembley
She was stabbed by violent, powerfully-built nightclub bouncer Jason Jones, who was given the job by known underground figure Roger Leslie.
However it was her husband, Lebanese-born Fadi Nasri, who had organised the killing as part of a chilling scheme to pay off spiralling debts of more than £100,000 with the couple’s £350,000 life insurance policy.
But his role in her death only emerged later. For in the aftermath Nasri, who had been having an affair with a prostitute, dutifully played the role of the grieving husband and even appeared in a Crimewatch appeal for information.
He also took part in a subsequent TV interview in which he appealed for help.
Nisha was stabbed by Jason Jones, left, who was given the job by Leslie Rogers, right
Fresh analysis of this footage by body language expert Cliff Lansley reveals how Nasri was unconsciously signalling his deceit throughout the TV interview.
Mr Lansley said: ‘The confidence and arrogance of the guy who’s orchestrated the killing to say someone has got a guilty conscience is bravado at its heights.
‘Unfortunately he gives away this kick he’s getting from fooling the media with a sly smile. Now this happens for about one fifth of a second.
‘What you see from the corners of the mouth is a slight raising there and this is pulled by a muscle connected to the jaw bone to the corners of the lips, our smiling muscle is pulling up his lips. And we call this duping delight.
‘It’s the pleasure that he’s probably feeling here of getting away with a lie or getting away with the fact that he was a murderer.’
Crimewatch editor recalls Nasri’s ‘flat’ appeal – and a body language expert reveals signs of deception
Nasri agreed to take part in a Crimewatch appeal to help raise the profile of his wife’s murder. But the show’s producers immediately recognised something unusual.
Doug Carnegie, former editor of BBC Crimewatch, told Faking It: Tears of a Crime: ‘I remember clearly he was describing how when he’d come back from the snooker hall, dashed out of the car, all the paramedics and the police were there, desperately trying to save his wife’s life.
‘And he described that in the flattest possible tones… I remember the producer and I looking at each other in the editing suite just thinking, “what’s wrong with this guy”. He was trying to be convincing and in so doing it was the last thing he was.’
‘Flat’: Crimewatch producers were left concerned by Nasri’s appeal on the BBC show. Meanwhile a slight shoulder shrug contradicts the words he is speaking
Mr Carnegie even asked Nasri to re-film the interview in an attempt to illicit more compelling footage.
He continued: ‘But when the second interview came back and he was in the same flat-lined emotional register we thought “there’s something not right here”.’
Commenting on the interview, body language expert Cliff Lansley said: ‘To have the gall to and the confidence to perform on Crimewatch under this spotlight is either brave or stupid.
‘He’s saying this completely changed his life. However we’re seeing a contradiction with his right shoulder his left. You notice his right shoulder it’s lifting a fraction of a centimetre, maybe a centimetre at most. This is a gestural slip.
‘It’s a single sided shoulder shrug which contradicts the words he’s saying. And his eyes close for about a second which distances himself from the statement too. So we have two indications along with a low volume which makes [a third signal of deception].’
Faking It: Tears of a Crime airs on Friday at 10pm on Investigation Discovery