Interrogation of Suspects: Why They Lie

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On the face of it, we know the answer to this question regarding crime and suspects. Guilty suspects lie for various reasons. Innocent suspects even lie when they are “worn down” by fierce interrogation for hours on end and … they just want it all to end!

The topic of interrogation techniques can be a minefield of controversy – one I do not wish to tackle in depth. However, a primer may be appropriate to illustrate the point further on in this blog.

Valuable time, and resources can truly be wasted, in addition to contributing more torment for victim families!  I was horrified a couple of weeks ago while watching an episode of Dateline about a missing person-homicide case which included two examples of lying that put the case off the track. The reasons they lied… had nothing to do with the case, only their selfish motives!  Such is my motivation for this blog!

“In the United States, scholars estimate that somewhere between 42 percent and 55 percent of suspects confess to a crime during interrogation.” 

Human Nature and a ‘Bare Bones Environment” During Interrogation-

According to several internet sources on interrogation, the keys to gaining useful information depends largely on the skill of the interrogator and the type of interrogation method used.typically only two or three uncomfortable chairs, a table, with no access for temperature control, lighting or bathroom facilities in order to “establish dependence on the interrogators.”

Physical Abuse and Deprivation-

In the case Brown v. Mississippi, the Supreme Court threw out a voluntary confession that was obtained after police officers r\ strung a suspect up in a tree and whipped him repeatedly. The Court’s decision was clear: Confessions obtained by force cannot be used as evidence at trial.

In the 1950s, it was okay to deprive a suspect of food. water, bathroom facilities and physically abuse a suspect for hours.

The benchmark case for protection of suspects during interrogation occurred in 1966 in the case of Miranda vs Arizona in which a  kidnapping and rape suspect, Ernesto Miranda, was not informed his rights of obtaining an attorney when questioned and his right to remain silent prior to providing his confession. Many modern day crime shows, particularly Law and Order, have made this case part and parcel of their stories.  

The moral compass with juries perhaps lying about nonexistent evidence versus lying about the welfare of people, particularly children, may not be palatable as have been demonstrated in documented cases brought to the Supreme Court level.

“Interrogators cannot misrepresent a suspect’s legal rights – Court rulings are clear that because the totality-of-the-circumstances, inquiry is fact specific and determinations of the limits of police deception are case specific” (American Psychological Assn.)

The Reid Technique-

A Chicago police officer in the 1940’s developed this technique which relies on observation of  different kinds of eye blinks and  body language, supposedly connoting anxiety which was interpreted as lying. This technique also uses the  control questions while developing a rapport with suspects. However, this technique has been extensively researched for 40 years and debunked. Anxiety does not mean someone is lying. Rather, it is a natural response to a stressful situation.

Good Cop- Bad Cop-

We all know this technique in which one interrogator becomes the aggressor while the other in the team supposedly takes the side of the suspect, becomes his “friend and protector” in order that the suspect will let down their guard during questioning.

The PEACE-  

Steps in the process-1) Preparation and Planning 2)  Engage and Explain, 3) Account, 4) Closure and Evaluate) is a method conceived in the 1990s and used initially in the United Kingdom. It was developed by law enforcement and psychologists, designed to be non-confrontational and to prevent false confessions.  This technique is  considered best practice. As a suspect composes lies, eventually he will be caught in an inconsistency and, voila, the gig is up! ( I dare say, I think DCI, character Jane Tennison- Helen Mirren  (BBC’s Prime Suspect Series) skillfully used this technique!

Dateline- The Halloween Party Episode -1027 October 27, 2017

What happened to Chelsea Bruck, 22 years old, who lived in a farm town located  in Southeastern, Monroe, Michigan? Chelsea was ten years younger than her two best friends and grew up the youngest of five children in the town of Maybee (Kind of like Mayberry), Michigan.

It happened at Big Mike’s Halloween bash on October 25, 2014.  700+ partiers amid several heavy metal rock bands and alcohol under two tents. In the dark with only the light of the moon and a bonfire, all masqueraded guests. What a nightmare for investigators!  

Becky, and friends Penny and Chelsea, were a threesome that night. However, they became separated and Chelsea never made it home. Chelsea did not drive and her homemade poison ivy costume which she labored for months to create, had no pockets for a cell phone.  She tried to call a friend, borrowing a phone for a ride, but it didn’t work out. In the wee hours of the morning, it was learned that there may have been foul play involved. Her friends were remorseful and filled with regrets. One red shoe, and five months later, over 600 tips helped to solve this case.

This was a very engrossing episode, but, when the leads came about, one suspect lied for the attention, and the other lied for revenge in her own sick intimate partner violence scenario.  What? How could anyone do such a thing when a young girl’s life is at stake?

What lessons can we learn from this true account? What lessons are there about the real challenges for investigators and the unconscionable motives of people?  Chelsea’s family and friends were truly inspiring in their long journey for justice. I invite you to watch this documentary: Video- https://www.nbc.com/dateline/video/the-halloween-party/3608893

HELP FOR MISSING PERSONS

If you know of a missing person-unsolved homicide that needs assistance, contact the Cue Center for Missing Persons – http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/about/
Referenceshttps://people.howstuffworks.com/police-interrogation1.htm;

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/05/jn.aspx

http://forensicoutreach.com/library/4-police-interrogation-techniques-you-should-know-and-why-not-all-of-them-work/

https://people.howstuffworks.com/police-interrogation.htm

miranda vs arizona case;

https://i-sight.com/resources/investigative-interviewing-techniques-the-peace-model/


To schedule a presentation with me at your future event or  conference please contact:

ImaginePublicity,  Telephone: 843.808.0859  Email:  contact@imaginepublicity.com

 

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