On January 21, 1998, 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe was found by family members lying on her bedroom floor stabbed to death.
The police investigation started with the immediate family. Each family member was interviewed separately, with an increased focus put on Stephanie’s 14-year-old brother Michael. Michael was interrogated for 27 hours over 3 days. Two close friends of Michael’s were also questioned. Using inappropriate tactics on the three youths, the police were able to obtain confessions.
The methods used to obtain the confessions left much doubt about their accuracy. Police used lies, false promises, and threats in order to pursue the boys to confess. False confession expert Richard Leo analyzed the videotaped interrogations and concluded that all three confessions were coerced. Leo described the interrogations as a form of ‘psychological torture’ that led the boys to say anything in order to make it stop.
All charges against Michael and his two friends were dropped when it became obvious that they had nothing to do with Stephanie’s murder. This case is a textbook example of how not to interrogate suspects.
Richard Raymond Tuite, a homeless man found wandering around the neighborhood shortly after the murder was brought in for questioning. DNA tests proved that Stephanie’s blood was on Tuite’s clothing. In May 2004, Tuite was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 13 years in state prison.
Michael Crowe Update May 22, 2012
Crowe’s record has now been formally cleared.