Many Celebrated Cases Come With False Confessions


The guilty aren’t the only ones who confess, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. More than 200 people in 1932 claimed they had kidnapped and murdered the infant son of aviator Charles Lindbergh. Carpenter Bruno Hauptmann, who was ultimately convicted of the crime, maintained his innocence up to his execution. Shortly after 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey’s death in 1996, several people confessed to the killing. The latest claimant is John Mark Karr, who is accused in the crime and was extradited yesterday to Colorado.

“Voluntary false confessors tend to be mentally ill people who have a pathological need for attention,” said Northwestern University law professor Steven Drizin. In the 1994 case in which O.J. Simpson was acquitted, a dozen people claimed to have stabbed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman. In the 1980s, Texas prisoner Henry Lee Lucas, who died in prison in 2001, boasted killing between 60 and 600 people. He was convicted of killing 11 people. A researcher who interviewed Lucas concluded that the Virginia native thrived on the notoriety of his outlandish confessions. “You occasionally see someone who is just intimidated to the point of duress in the interrogation,” said Ralph Stone, a retired criminal profiler with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “It may be a weak personality, and they’ll tell you what you want so you’ll get off them.”


Comments are closed.