Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Buddhist Temple Massacre

Recantations

This raises an important point in the process of investigation.  No matter how bad the conditions, why would people confess to something they did not do?  It seems incomprehensible to most people, but studies show that people confess for a variety of reasons.

"I did exactly what they told me to do," McGraw said to a reporter.  For more than 44 hours, he said, there were as many as 30 investigators questioning him and threatening him.  He insisted that he had not called authorities.  He'd checked into the psychiatric institute for a drug habit and someone else from there had called and implicated him.  His interrogators had denied his requests for a lawyer, denying him rest and food, and humiliating him by forcing him to urinate into soda cans.

Right after McGraw, the others recanted their confessions.  Two of them said that before the interrogation, they were placed in a room containing charts and photographs associated with the murder.  That gave them the ability to tell their interrogators what they wanted to hear. Hoping to get a break, they used the information they were supplied.

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