Forensic psychologist troubled by letter from father of missing baby
INDIANAPOLIS – The father of a missing three-month-old girl wrote an email to FOX59 explaining how he placed her body in a dumpster after she died of natural causes.
It has been nearly two weeks since Janna Rivera went missing and police are still searching for her body.
Her father, Jeff Fairbanks, is the last known person to have seen her and the only person of interest named in the case.
In an email sent to FOX59, Fairbanks said he placed Janna’s body in a dumpster.
“Finding Janna was the most important thing, at first, because that gives us closure, a chance at a respectable burial, and exoneration,” wrote Fairbanks. “However, I am afraid that window may have passed. It was the hardest thing in the world to do, after the fact of Janna’s death, to take the detectives to a dumpster.”
He goes on to explain why he didn’t call 911.
“Believe it or not, it never even occured to me. Once I couldn’t save her, all I could think about were the girls downstairs… I guess, in some strange way, I was trying to protect them, because I knew she was already gone.”
Fairbanks said after driving “aimlessly, waiting for her to wake up, praying, thinking somehow she would,” he placed her body in a dumpster. Then he said he lied to his family and told them he had actually buried Janna, because he felt “so ashamed of what I had done.”
“He sounds guilty,” said legal expert and former prosecutor Jack Crawford. “The letter is extremely important to the prosecution of this case. It shows the thinking of Mr. Fairbanks and it shows – in my opinion – a guilty mind. When you make up a story so outlandish as this, lying to your own family about where you buried the little child, that indicates guilt.”
Forensic psychologist Dr. Margaret Ann Keaton couldn’t make sense of why Fairbanks chose not to call 911.
While admitting people react to trauma differently, she said the act of calling 911 is something even a child knows to do in an emergency.
“As a parent and as someone who has studied violent crime for over two decades, it does not ring true to me that a loving parent with nothing to hide would willingly toss their deceased, infant child into a dumpster for whatever reason,” she told FOX59.
She was also concerned by other statements made by Fairbanks.
“The statement that ‘after the fact of Janna’s death’ taking the police to the dumpster was the hardest thing he ever did is also troubling because how could anything be harder than tossing your baby’s lifeless body into a trash dumpster in the first place?” she asked.
In the email, Fairbanks also mentions passing a polygraph test despite his nervousness. Dr. Keaton said polygraphs are not admissible in court and sometimes, people with psychopathic tendencies can easily pass polygraphs.
“Some individuals have flattened affect resulting in less strong emotions, especially less guilt/shame. Such individuals may have a better chance of fooling a lie detector,” explained Keaton.
So why haven’t police arrested Fairbanks? Crawford believes they are trying to exhaust all their avenues of finding Janna’s body.
“Prosecutors and police want to find that body,” he said. “It helps their case tremendously. And I think by the fact they haven’t arrested Mr. Fairbanks yet, that they’re close. They have some strong leads on where the child’s body may be.”
If police cannot find the body, Crawford said they can still charge Fairbanks with murder based on what he’s said. But he believes Janna’s father has much more left to say.
“I think he wants to confess. I think he wants to tell where that child is.”