Convicted Sex Offender Who Purchased Doug Williams’ How to Sting the Polygraph Passed Four Polygraph Examinations

Ray Dwight Sluss
Ray Dwight Sluss

On 21 February 2013, federal agents raided former police polygraphist Doug Williams‘ home and office, seizing his customer records as part of an investigation targeting polygraph countermeasure instructors. The U.S. government used these records to create a interagency watch list of individuals who had purchased Williams’ manual, How to Sting the Polygraph, an accompanying DVD, or had received in-person training on how to pass a polygraph “test.”

Court records obtained by AntiPolygraph.org reveal that one of the individuals on the list, Ray Dwight Sluss of Johnson City, Tennessee, a convicted sex offender on probation, passed four post-conviction polygraph examinations. In a memorandum (PDF) dated 22 November 2013, United States Attorney William C. Killian writes:

In 2013, federal agents received information that Sluss had purchased polygraph counter-measures techniques and training from an individual in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma who marketed these products to convicted felons like Sluss who were subject to polygraph examinations. FBI in Oklahoma referred the defendant to FBI in Johnson City, where an agent confirmed that Sluss had been convicted of child pornography crimes, was on state court probation, and had completed periodic polygraph examinations. As a convicted sex offender, Sluss was also subject to limitations on his residence, employment, and activities. FBI verified that Sluss had successfully passed four polygraph examinations since his release from prison.

There is no indication that any polygraph operator ever detected Sluss using polygraph countermeasures. Sluss had completed his polygraph requirement and on 10 September 2010 was placed on “unsupervised” probation.

According to another court filing, on 28 August 2013, FBI Special Agent Peter O’Hare, Jr. “visited Mr. Sluss at his home to question him about a report that Mr. Sluss had purchased materials relating to polygraph examination countermeasures. Mr. Sluss denied making such a purchase.”

O’Hare returned to Sluss’s residence two days later accompanied by the latter’s probation officer, and a search of the home led to the discovery of computer media with child pornography, for possession of which Sluss was sentenced to 17.5 years in federal prison.

The Sluss case highlights the vulnerability of polygraphy to simple countermeasures (see Chapter 4) that polygraph operators cannot detect and the foolishness of official reliance on this pseudoscientific procedure for public safety purposes.

Minnesota Appeals Court Rules Polygraph Results Inadmissible in Probation-Revocation Proceedings

In a 10-page published decision (PDF) filed on 23 May 2016, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that “[b]ecause polygraph testing has not been proven reliable, polygraph test results are not admissible as substantive evidence of a probation violation in probation-revocation proceedings.” The case is State of Minnesota, Respondent, vs. Chad Michael Nowacki, Appellant.

Federal Appeals Court Rules Certain Mandatory Sex Offender Polygraph Questions Unconstitutional

10-circuit-court-of-appeals
10th Circuit Court of Appeals Building in Denver, Colorado

The United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has ruled in a 25-page opinion (PDF) that a convicted sex offender in a post-conviction polygraph program cannot be compelled to answer questions about his sexual history that could tend to incriminate him. So-called “sexual history polygraphs” are commonly administered early in such programs, and typically include questions about any past, undetected sex crimes. The court’s ruling finds that compelling an individual to answer such questions, under threat of sanctions such as being removed from a treatment program and returned to prison, violates the individual’s 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination in the absence of a grant of immunity.

The specific mandatory sexual history polygraph questions that the appellant, Brian von Behren, refused to answer, and that the court found violated his 5th Amendment rights, were:

  1. After the age of 18, did you engage in sexual activity with anyone under the age of 15?
  2. Have you had sexual contact with a family member or relative?
  3. Have you every physically forced or threatend anyone to engage in sexual contact with you?
  4. Have you ever had sexual contact with someone who was physically asleep or unconscious?

The 10th Circuit ruling in U.S. v. Brian Von Behren (No. 15-1033), if not overturned on appeal, will bind federal courts in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.

For additional commentary, see Jesse Paul’s report, “Colorado sex offender’s lie detector court win could have big impact” in the Denver Post and Jonny Bonner’s Courthouse News Service report, “Forced Polygraph of Sex Offender Unconstitutional.”

Reader comments are welcome.

Polygraph Operator Ken Blackstone Pleads Guilty to Perjury

Ken Blackstone
Ken Blackstone

Georgia polygraph operator Ken Blackstone has pleaded guilty to a single count of perjury, a felony punishable by one to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000 under Georgia state law. Blackstone committed perjury by falsely claiming during a court hearing that another polygraph examiner, Charles Slupski, had reviewed the charts of a polygraph examination that Blackstone conducted on Guy Heinze Jr., who was charged with, and has since been convicted for, eight murders and one attempted murder. Blackstone was sentenced to five years’ probation and a $1,000 fine.

Florida Times-Union reporter Terry Dickson writes:

Polygraph examiner pleads guilty to lying in Guy Heinze Jr. hearing
Kenneth Blackstone sentenced to 5 years probation, gets 2-year ban on criminal trial testimony

By Terry Dickson Fri, Oct 10, 2014 @ 8:42 pm

BRUNSWICK | A polygraph examiner pleaded guilty to perjury Friday for testifying falsely under oath in the Guy Heinze Jr. murder case.

Kenneth Blackstone, 63, of Stone Mountain pleaded guilty Friday to a single count of perjury over his testimony on July 18, 2013, in a motions hearing in Heinze’s case, District Attorney Jackie Johnson said in a release.

Superior Court Judge Roger Lane accepted Blackstone’s plea under Georgia’s First Offender Act, sentenced him to five years to be served on probation and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine, Johnson said.

Lane also banished Blackstone from the 5-county Brunswick Judicial Circuit and ordered him not to testify in any criminal proceedings in court for two years, Johnson said.

In the motions hearing, Blackstone said he had administered a polygraph to Heinze in which Heinze said he had not killed his father, Guy Heinze Sr., his father’s friend, Russell Toler Sr., Toler’s four children and sister and the boyfriend of Toler’s eldest daughter. It was Heinze Jr. who made the 911 call on Aug. 29, 2009 in which he told an operator he had come home to find his whole family “beat to death.”

One person survived the beating. Byron Jimerson Jr., the then 3-year-old son of Chrissy Toler recovered from a severe head injury.

Blackstone, who was hired by Heinze’s defense team, testified that the test indicated the Heinze was not being deceptive when he said he had not killed the eight victims.

When Assistant District Attorney John B. Johnson III questioned Blackstone about his methods, Blackstone said he had sent the charts from the polygraph exam to Charles “Chuck” Slupski, an independent expert in polygraph examination methods. The state had its own expert, retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent Jerry Rowe who told prosecutors that Slupski had been out of the country at the time and said he had not spoken with Blackstone about the Heinze examination.

Confronted with Slupski’s statement, Blackstone said something to the effect he had been caught.

Polygraph exams are not admissible as evidence but Heinze’s lawyers had intended to use the results as mitigation during sentencing if Heinze had been found guilty later. The defense withdrew the motion and a Glynn County grand jury later indicted Blackstone for perjury.

Heinze was found guilty in November of all eight murders and the attempted murder of Byron Jimerson and is serving life in prison.

Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405

As of the time of this writing, Blackstone remains listed as a member in good standing of the American Polygraph Association, the Georgia Polygraph Association, and the Florida Polygraph Association.

Update (17 Oct. 2014): Ken Blackstone’s profile page on the American Polygraph Association member directory has been deleted.

Polygraph Operator Ken Blackstone Under Investigation for Perjury

Ken Blackstone
Ken Blackstone

Terry Dickson reports for the Florida Times-Union that polygraph operator Kenneth E. Blackstone of Atlanta, Georgia is under investigation for perjury in connection with a death penalty murder case:

Guy Heinze Jr.’s polygraph examiner under investigation for truthfulness in court
Posted: July 18, 2013 – 9:01pm  |  Updated: July 18, 2013 – 9:14pm

By Terry Dickson

BRUNSWICK | A polygraph examiner who testified on Thursday in Guy Heinze Jr.’s death penalty murder case is himself the subject of a perjury investigation, an official said.

Testifying in a motions hearing, Kenneth E. Blackstone said Heinze showed no deception in saying that he had not killed his father and seven others in a mobile home on Aug. 29, 2009.

Blackstone said he asked Heinze three relevant questions: Did he physically assault anyone in the trailer, did he assault any of his family members in the trailer and did he cause the deaths of his family members?

Heinze answered no to all three questions, and the polygraph showed no deception, Blackstone said.

It was during District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s examination, however, that Blackstone got into trouble. When Johnson asked Blackstone if he had undertaken any quality control measures to ensure his findings were correct, Blackstone said at first he had reviewed it himself.

He said later, however, that about two weeks ago he had shown it to Chuck Slupski, who operates a polygraph examiners’ school in the Atlanta area.

He had shown the polygraph charts without Heinze’s identity to Slupski, Blackstone said.

“He said there was no deception,” Blackstone said.

Johnson then asked Blackstone if he was aware that Slupski was out of the country and had been in South Africa during the two-week time frame. Blackstone responded he may have shown the charts to Slupski earlier.

Johnson had intended to call Jerry Rowe, the director of polygraph for the Department of Juvenile Justice, as a witness to rebut Blackstone’s testimony after court reconvened after lunch, but it never got that far.

Heinze’s defense lawyer, Newell Hamilton Jr., withdrew his motion to have Heinze’s polygraph results used as evidence during the sentencing phase of the trial, should Heinze be found guilty.

Rowe said he had spoken with Slupski, who said he had not seen Heinze’s polygraph results nor talked with Blackstone about them. Slupski was willing to come to court and testify if necessary, Rowe said.

‘CAUGHT ME IN A LIE’

Greg McMichael, Johnson’s chief investigator, said he will conduct an investigation on whether Blackstone testified falsely.

Rowe, a retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent, said Blackstone’s examination would have been easy to refute because he didn’t use a necessary tool, a motion sensor in the chair of the person being examined. The movement sensor can detect when a person is tightening the sphincter muscles or doing other things to try to fool the test or reacting, Rowe said.

When Johnson asked Blackstone why he hadn’t used a motion sensor, he called them worthless and said they are used only in evidentiary examinations.

Johnson referred Blackstone to a section of the bylaws for professional polygraphers which says “a motion sensor is used in all cases.”

“You caught me in a lie,’’ Blackstone said. “I didn’t know that was in there.”

He then said he would always use the sensors in the future.

Outside the courtroom, Rowe said the motion sensors are essential.

“You’ve got to have the movement sensors, or the polygraph is no good,’’ Rowe said. “It’s for the person [under examination], too.”

Blackstone also erred in his choice of non-relevant questions on which he had Heinze purposely lie to show bodily responses to deception, Rowe said.

Blackstone posed questions on drug use to Heinze, an admitted drug user, so those responses would have contaminated the results, Rowe said.

There were also some glimpses of the case against Heinze in Johnson’s cross-examination of Blackstone, who had said he had familiarized himself with the crime scene and some of the evidence. She asked Blackstone if he was aware that Heinze’s bloody palm print was found beside the body of a victim or if he knew that drugs belonging to one of the victims were found in the console of the car Heinze was driving.

The drugs belonged to Michael Toler, 19, who was still alive the morning of Aug. 29 when Heinze called 911 and said he had found his whole family beaten to death. Toler, who had Down syndrome, died the next day.

The others killed in the mobile home at Good Hope Mobile Home Park were Guy Heinze Sr., 45; his close friend, Russell “Rusty” D. Toler Sr., 44; Toler’s children, Russell Toler Jr., 20, Chrissy Toler, 22, and Michelle Toler, 15; Rusty Toler’s sister Brenda Gail Falagan, 49; and Chrissy Toler’s boyfriend, Joseph L. West Jr., 30. Michael Toler was also Rusty Toler’s son.

Chrissy Toler’s son, Byron Jimerson, now 7, recovered from a severe head injury.

Until Thursday, jury selection for the trial was to begin in late September and the trial itself in October. Presiding Judge Stephen Scarlett met with Johnson and Hamilton after the hearing on scheduling, and the dates might change.

Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405

Blackstone specializes in polygraph screening of convicted sex offenders and is the author of a book titled, Polygraph, Sex Offenders, and the Court: What Professionals Should Know About Polygraph… And a Lot More.

Chris French on Polygraph Screening of Sex Offenders

Professor of psychology Chris French writes for the Guardian on why mandatory polygraph screening of convicted sex offenders is a bad public policy choice. Excerpt:

It is clear that offenders only have to spend five minutes on Google to realise that experts generally agree that polygraph testing is in fact not a reliable technique for detecting deception. If such testing becomes mandatory, it is inevitable that this truth about polygraphs will become widely known among offenders. From then on, any effect that unfounded belief in the effectiveness of the technique had in terms of increasing disclosures is likely to disappear.

To make matters worse, techniques exist to beat the test. Once the underlying rationale of the test is understood, steps can be taken to either augment the psychophysiological response to control questions (eg via self-induced physical or mental pain) or else reduce the response to relevant questions (eg using mental training, such as meditation).

 Indeed, polygraphs are easily beaten, and information on how to do so is freely available here on AntiPolygraph.org, among other places. Authorities in the US, UK, and elsewhere would be wise to terminate their misplaced reliance on the Emperor’s-new-clothes technology of polygraph “testing.”