Tag Archives: Interrogation

Life goes on?

Please Note: Posts in the ‘My Story’ page always have the newest post on the top. If you would like to read the story from the beginning – start with “An Introduction”. Thanks for reading! ~IWFA

What do you do the day after you are accused of a horrible and unthinkable crime that you didn’t commit?  Where do you start?  Are there things you should be doing?  There is no handbook for this type of scenario.  But the thoughts about all the “what if’s” begin in your head.  How do you go on “if” you lose the career you had worked on for your entire life?  What if you lose your home…your savings…your friends…?  What is the penalty for this kind of crime?  Worst case scenarios start immediately.

The first thing I could think of was to try to figure out what yesterday really meant.  Is it a good thing that I was not arrested – just questioned and let go?  Did the detective actually know I was telling the truth like I thought he did?  Should I tell my friends what happened?  How do you figure all of this out?

Fortunately – my mother has a close friend who is an attorney, and a local level prosecutor.  While he never handles cases of this magnitude, he was an amazing source of information on how things like this work.  What he told us, though, was the start of my total disbelief in our justice system!  He told us, of course, that when an allegation like this is brought to the police, they have to fully investigate it.  That makes perfect sense to me.  I hope they would investigate something this serious…but what made no sense is that they owe the ‘accused’ no more explanation than that.  We learned that the techniques they use in their ‘interrogation’ are designed only to get a confession – NOT to determine the truth.  The detectives don’t even have to give factual information to you in an interrogation in order to get a confession.  They can tell you that there were accusations made that actually were not.  They can phrase questions in a way to lead you to believe things that are not true.  They can promise you things about “deals” and “everything will be ok” if you just confess.  They can outright lie about the reason you are being questioned…all are legally acceptable ‘interrogation techniques’.

After the interrogation, the police don’t ever have to follow-up with you again.  The advice we were given is that if we heard nothing more about this for the next 90 days it is safe to assume they have dropped the investigation.  But – there are no rules either – they can sit on the accusations for a year if they want before they decide to act.  If they decide they are dropping the case – they don’t tell the ‘accused’…so you spend your entire life wondering.  So – our friend’s advice was to just go on with life as if this never happened…because you may never hear anything about it again.  Easier said than done!

From this day forward, I feel like nothing will ever be the same.  Are phone calls being listened to?  Are emails being read?  Quick trips to the store for milk are no longer an easy thing to do.  You look at everyone in the store…do they know?  You scan cars in the parking lot looking for an unmarked police car…are they watching me?  Leaving your house to check the mail raises so many new questions…  Who was in that car that just drove by?  Did I see a neighbor watching me from their window?  And forget about going out to eat…  A knock on the door makes your heart skip a beat every time…is this the knock before they arrest me?

But as the days and weeks go by – it actually becomes easier.  I return to work quickly – and it seems like nothing has changed at all.  No one seems to know.  Day to day activities become easier again as well.  I feel like I am not watching over my shoulder all the time anymore.  Christmas and New Years come and go.  Activities with friends and family happen as they always have.  My life actually feels like everything is back to normal now!  This has to be a good thing…right?

If you enjoy following my story please subscribe to this site by entering your email address at the very bottom of the page – then you will be notified immediately of new posts!  You can always unsubscribe at anytime! ~ IWFA Blog

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The Interrogation

Please Note: Posts in the ‘My Story’ page always have the newest post on the top. If you would like to read the story from the beginning – start with “An Introduction”. Thanks for reading! ~IWFA

November 16, 2006…continued:

As I am sitting in the reception area of the Prosecutor’s Office I continue to think of exactly what kind of issue there could be with John.  Remember – at this point the way the Detective got me into their office was to tell me that there was a custody issue with John that we had to address today.  Eventually Detective Smith came out – introduced himself, and said “let’s go inside and talk”.  As we are walking down the hall, we get into an elevator, then down another hall.  During this time Detective Smith is making small talk about the day, my job, what I was working on today, etc.  My initial impression was that he was very friendly and likable.

We eventually made our way into an interrogation room.  Detective Smith introduced me to Detective Johnson, a female detective who was already seated in the room.  They explained that due to ‘procedure’ they had to have this conversation in a room where it could be recorded.  They then advised me that because the conversation was occurring in ‘this setting’, that they had to provide me with a paper explaining my rights, which was ‘very standard in this type of situation’.  They asked me to read each of the rights below out loud ‘for the tape’, then initial the paper next to each right that I understood them.

  1. You have the right to remain silent
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
  3. You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have one present with you while you are being questioned
  4. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish
  5. A decision to waive these rights is not final and you may withdraw your Waiver at any times either before or during questioning.

Finally they had me sign the following waiver:

“I acknowledge that I have been advised of my rights and I understand what my rights are.  I am willing to make a statement and answer questions.  I understand and know what I am doing.  No promises or threats have been made to me.”

LESSON #1:

NEVER give a statement, or answer ANY questions without a lawyer present once you are provided with your rights.  The logical thought process is that “if I didn’t do anything wrong, I have nothing to hide so there is no reason I should not answer their questions”.  This is what law enforcement counts on – yet through my ordeal I learned that especially if you are innocent you need to stop and request an attorney immediately to protect your interests!  As nice as the police may seem they never have your interest in mind – and have only one goal – a confession at all costs!  At the time that I was provided, and waived, my rights I still had no idea why I was really there, but, looking back, even if I had known I still would have waived my rights because I knew I had nothing to hide.  This is the biggest and most damaging mistake anyone accused of a crime makes.  It is well-known that “anything you say can and will be used against you”.  The reality is that “anything you say will be taken out of the context it was said in and will be used against you”.  This is so critically important that it bears repeating – If you are ever provided with your Miranda Rights for ANY reason, STOP IMMEDIATELY.  NEVER give any statement, and NEVER answer any questions without an attorney present! Even though you know your innocence, it WILL come back to hurt you later on!

Back to the story…

This waiving of my rights begins what was to be a five-hour interrogation!  A five-hour interrogation that takes less than one page in the detective’s written report.

The interrogation started with a lot of small talk about my life…how I met John…how he came to live with me…what our relationship was.  Detective Smith questioned me about my job because it was ‘something he was interested in as well’.  He constantly made statements such as ‘people in careers that help people, like us, have to work together’, and ‘we are both on the same team’.  Eventually he turned the questioning to John’s friends, and which of his friends I knew.  I began talking about friends of John’s and how I knew each one.  When I said Michael’s name they stopped me, and started focusing on him.

They asked more details about Michael than about any other of John’s friends.  The questions started with how I met him – and turned more and more bizarre.  They asked questions about what Michael slept in when he was younger (I told them that he had always slept in underwear, just like both of his brothers), and what he slept in now (I told them I did not know, as I had not seen what he slept in since he was about 11).  They asked if I had ever seen Michael naked (I told them I had several times when he was much younger – he had a habit of getting out of the bathtub and running around the entire house naked when he was 8 and 9 because he thought it was funny that everyone yelled at him to put clothes on – so anyone who was in the house at those times saw him naked).  They asked if he had ever seen me naked (I told them that he had not to my knowledge).  They asked if I had any ‘identifiable characteristics’ that only Michael would know (I responded no…because I don’t).  They asked if I had ever provided Michael with alcohol (I answered no – and that in fact I had taken alcohol away from him on several occasions at his families parties – which was witnessed by many people each time). They asked if I had ever allowed Michael to watch pornography at my house (I answered “of course not!”).  Then they asked me if Michael had come to me and made allegations that someone had molested him, would I believe him.  (I answered yes – because at the time if he would have told me that about someone else I would have believed him). They asked me why I would have believed him.  (I told them because I trusted him – he was like family to me.)

It was at this point that Detective Smith told me that Michael had accused me of sexually assaulting him “a few years ago”.  Now – it seems like it should have been obvious what they were getting to from that line of questioning, but when someone who you have been there for and helped countless times since they were a little kid accuses you of molesting them, it is the furthest thing from the realm of possibility in your mind!  This was a kid who I literally thought of as a little brother – who I would do anything for…and he just accused me of something unthinkable.  I was speechless, nauseous, and honestly did not believe that he said it.  There was no way in my mind Michael would say that!

The next several hours were spent trying to get me to confess to a crime I did not – and would NEVER – do!  They started with statement such as “the only way we can help you is if you are honest with us”.  They tried to be friends – they tried to make me believe that it was not so bad.  And said things like “this is the type of situations we deal with every day, and on a scale of 1 to 10 we are only at about a 2 here”.  After they were unable to get what they wanted this way they stepped up their act.  Detective Johnson, for the first time, stepped in.  She choose an insulting route asking questions like “what could you have been thinking” and slamming her fists on the table and saying “we know what the f**king truth is”.  To every accusation I would answer “I didn’t do it”.  Eventually they told me that “I didn’t do it” won’t work anymore, and that “we can stay here all night” until you decide you are going to be honest with us.  When they felt they got nowhere, they both stepped out of the room – and left me in there alone for what felt like an hour.

Now I am sitting in a small room alone – I know that I am being taped – I know that they are watching me through the glass.  There are countless thoughts going through my head.  I later learn that is the intent of this technique.  We are now probably 3 hours or more into me being interrogated, accused over and over of something I didn’t do.  I am physically and emotionally exhausted.  I had been told ‘there is no way out of this’.  I had been led to believe that the only way to avoid going to jail where people ‘eat stuff like this up’ was to confess.  They said ‘you do not want to go in that jail accused of a crime like this, do you?’.  As I sat there alone I kept thinking – maybe I should just tell them what they want to hear so that this will just end.  Several times I was actually close to knocking on the window just to make the torture of the interrogation stop – thank God, looking back, I stayed strong!

Eventually, Detective Smith comes back in the room alone.  His jacket is now off, his tie is loose, and the top couple buttons of his shirt are undone.  He brings me a glass of water, and pulls a chair up next to me (prior to this both detectives had been sitting across the table from me).  He puts his hand on my arm and says “I really want to help you”…he talks about how he can tell I am a “good person at heart” and probably just made a mistake.  He tells me that he will put in a word for me if I am just honest with him now.  When I tell him that I would not confess to something I didn’t do he became very upset.  He asked me “why would Michael say that if it wasn’t true?”.  I said “I don’t know”.  He said “I don’t know isn’t f**king good enough anymore”.  I asked him how I was supposed to answer a question I don’t know the answer to.  He told me that the answer was “because I did it”.

Well – this back and forth technique continued for five hours.  They would try to be friendly, then would be intimidating and mean (honestly very terrifying…).  Finally I was left alone in the room again.  I felt like this would never end.  I was unable to even think anymore.  I had no comprehension of what was going on.  I was starving – it was now almost 6:00PM and I had not eaten since breakfast.  I had not been allowed to use the bathroom (I learned this is another frequent technique – they give you water to make you have to use the bathroom so you will be more uncomfortable in the interrogation).  Just when I thought this would never end, Detective Smith came in and said “you are free to go now”.  I was unable to even respond…I stood up to leave without a word.  As we were walking through the maze of hallways on the way out Detective Smith says to me in the friendliest way possible “listen, that back there was all just investigative techniques we use – it was nothing personal”.  I felt at this point that maybe he actually knew I was telling truth.

As I got into my car and started the long drive home all I could think was what do I do now…how do I tell my family what has happened…what will my friends think?…

If you enjoy following my story please subscribe to this site by entering your email address at the very bottom of the page – then you will be notified immediately of new posts!  You can always unsubscribe at anytime! ~ IWFA Blog

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