Why did James Wayne Mullins, a Kentucky man, who never went to Phoenix, claim to be a killer of one of Georgia Thompson, the first known victim linked to the so-called Baseline Serial Killer, a predator whose acts of random violence, including 8 murders, have terrorized the Phoenix area. It turns out Mullins made the whole thing up in a hare-brained scheme to escape prosecution in Kentucky. Mullins was in jail in Kentucky, facing a 25 year sentence for burglary and theft charges, when he first heard about the Thompson murder. Mullins says he figured to face a maximum of about 24 years in prison in Arizona if a jury convicted him of killing the young woman. He also figured he had a good shot at beating the case becaust there was no physical evidence against him, including DNA, and nothing to link him to the crime scene. His hope was that by confessing to the Phoenix murder, he would be transferred to Phoenix and that Kentucky authorities would drop the pending cases against him after shipping him to Arizona to face the murder charge.
Mullins figured that the Tempe police authorities would see through his story fairly quickly but apparently, he didn't count on the phenomenon of tunnelvision taking over. To his surprise, when he interviewed with Tempe Detective Susan Schoville in Kentucky last January 2, she seemed to be buying is tale. As Mullins told a reporter from the Phoenix New Times: "It was like holding a carrot in front of a mule and leading it around. If she would have just looked into what I was saying . . . the shit I was putting out was obviously bullshit." Not only did the detective not see throught the confession, she worked hard to make the confession more credible. According to the article "the detective's videotaped interviews with Mullins show that she repeatedly tipped Mullins off to key evidentiary details so that his logistically impossible confession might seem more plausible." Prosecutors bought this crap confession as well, charging Mullins with the crime and then later announcing that he may be the Baseline Killer when they linked the Thompson murder to other killings.
How bad was the original confession? According to Mullins, the farthest West he had ever been before authorities flew him to Phoenix was Oklahoma City. "I didn't even know Tempe was connected to Phoenix, or what Maricopa County was." said Mullins to the reporter.
On August 3, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office finally dropped a second-degree murder count against Mullins. Since then, authorities have arrested ex-convict Mark Goudeau on suspicion of raping two south Phoenix women — a case police say they also can link forensically to the Baseline Killer. Whether Goudeau is prosecuted for Thompson's murder remains to be seen.
Although the inducement for the confession did not come from the police, the Mullins case goes to show you that even confessions which start out as "voluntary" can become "police induced" in the sense that police give the confessor the details that are needed to make the confession credible.
To read more about this case, view Paul Rubin's excellent article "I Dunnit" at: