Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Coerced False Confessions During Police Interrogations

Eddie Joe Lloyd

Eddie Joe Lloyd, earlier
Eddie Joe Lloyd, earlier

Eddie Joe Lloyd thought he could assist the police with an ongoing investigation into a 16-year-old Michigan girl's brutal rape and murder. In 1984, he contacted the police from the mental institution where he resided and gave them suggestions on how to better handle the case. The police visited him on several occasions and conducted interviews, hoping to gain even more information. During the interviews, the police told Lloyd, who was heavily medicated at the time, that if he admitted to committing the crime, he would help them "smoke out" the real killer, according to Ben Schmitt and Suzette Hackney in a Detroit Free Press article.

Barry Scheck
Barry Scheck

Lloyd was eager to help and agreed to confess, even though he didn't commit the crime. During a 2002 Fox News Network interview with Hannity and Colmes, Barry Scheck, a founder of The Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cordozo School of Law, suggested that the police fed Lloyd information concerning the crime, such as the location of the body, the type of jeans the girl was wearing, and the fact that underwear were left hanging from a tree. Lloyd then signed a written confession and allowed his statement to be tape-recorded. He had no idea that at that moment he had signed away his freedom.

To Lloyd's surprise, as soon he signed the statement and confessed, the police arrested him for the girl's murder. He immediately felt betrayed. Lloyd tried desperately to protest his innocence, but his pleas fell on deaf ears and the case went to trial in 1985. Based on the substantial evidence, namely the tape-recorded statement and the written confession, Lloyd was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to life in prison.

During his incarceration, Lloyd tried to appeal his sentence, but was unsuccessful. He then contacted the Innocence Project and asked for assistance in having his DNA tested against remaining samples from the original crime scene. After thorough analysis, the truth was revealed. The DNA proved that Lloyd was not responsible for the girl's death.  

In August 2002, after more than 17 years in prison, Lloyd was pardoned and released from prison. His exoneration was the 110th case of exoneration in United States history that was based primarily on DNA evidence. Many more will likely follow.

Eddie Joe Lloyd
Eddie Joe Lloyd

The use of DNA analysis in investigations has reached an unprecedented level, leading to the realization that a small percent of America's prison population is made up of inmates who have been wrongfully convicted. Interestingly, many wrongful convictions stem from false confessions made around the time of the arrest during police interrogations. Many now question the effectiveness of interviewing techniques used by investigators. When researchers studied the subject, they made a startling discovery. They found that in many cases, the police used illegal tactics and coercion to get the suspects to confess to crimes they never committed, often to hasten a case's closure.

 

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