Why Can’t Law Enforcement Admit They Blow It Sometimes?
After honor student Stephanie Crowe was stabbed to death in her bedroom in Escondido, California in January 1998, police briefly questioned (and collected clothes from) Richard Tuite, a drug-addicted, mentally ill transient who had been spotted prowling nearby the previous evening and scaring the Crowes’ neighbors. But the first person to get the third degree by detectives was Stephanie’s 14-year-old brother Michael, who weathered 10 hours of grueling interrogation without his parents or attorney present.
Michael was told - falsely - that his 12-year-old sister’s blood was found in his room, that his hair was discovered between her fingers and that his voice stress analyzer test showed deception. Eventually, Michael cracked. He told detectives he had no memory of the crime, but he would be willing to make something up for them.
The desperate teenager’s taped confession is now infamous, heavily interspersed with red flags like: “OK, here is the part where I’ll stop lying.” At one point, veteran detective Ralph Claytor asked him, “How many times did you stab her?” “It’s going to be a lie,” Michael responded. “Three times.” “How many?” Claytor repeated. “Three,” said Michael. “It’s a lie.”
The teen quickly recanted and wouldn’t sign a written “recap” statement. But now-retired Detective Claytor had no doubt that he had his killer. After all, the investigator observed, Michael seemed less grief-stricken than his family and while at the police department, during lunch the boy watched cartoons and played a video game.