Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Buddhist Temple Massacre

Confessions

Let's look first at what the investigators did to get the information they wanted.

They searched the homes of the four implicated suspects and used the information they had gotten from McGraw to pressure the others.  The interrogations lasted for many hours, until the men were thoroughly exhausted.  One by one, they gave in.  Each of them admitted to the crimes and provided more details.  Sometimes what one man said conflicted with someone else's account, but where the confessions agreed was that on the afternoon of August 9, the men had driven to Phoenix in two cars, a Ford Bronco and a Chevrolet Blazer.  They had then met in south Phoenix with three other young men before going to the temple later that evening.  Parker even described a spiral-shaped ring taken from one of the monks that the deputies did not even know was missing.  He also described how one monk had resisted them, and he added that a nun had come into the room where they had rounded up the man and startled him.

Confessions, especially those extracted after many hours, need to be corroborated with evidence.  In this case they had none.  In fact, videotapes exonerated one man: Michael McGraw -- the same man who had allegedly made the initial call -- was at work at the time when he claimed he was driving to Phoenix.  That alone should have made the other confessions suspect. 

Since the men appeared to know details about the crimes that had not been published in the newspapers, to explain their confessions as based solely on press accounts is insufficient.

On September 13, the Major Crimes Task Force, comprised of 66 investigators, announced the arrest of the five Tucson men, two of whom were ex-cons. The case had been solved and they expected to soon have physical evidence to link them to the crime scene.

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