"The friendless, the weird, and the mentally disabled are all vulnerable" when police are under pressure to solve a high profile crime, writes Robert Chesshyre in his article in the Britsih Daily online magazine "The First Post" available at: http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?menuID=2&subID=1074
Chesshyre's article tells the story of Stefan Kiszko (pictured below), who was charged with and convicted for the murder of 11 year-old school girl in 1976, based inpart on an alleged confession.
Kiszco was large, awkward, and did some strange things that caught the attention of the authorities, including jotting down the license number of a car seen near the crime scene. Kiszco languished in jail for 15 years and was treated the way most child sex offenders are treated in prison -- he was given a taste of his own medicine by his fellow prisoners who physically assaulted and shunned him. In part, due to the heroic efforts of his mum, authorities tested traces of semen which has been left by the perpetrator. When it was determined that Kiszco was sterile, he was released. Neither Kizsco or his long-suffering mum got to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Within six months after his release, both had died. Now 31 years later, police have arrested a new suspect 53-year-old Ronald Castree of Oldham on suspicion of Lesley's murder after forensic scientists produced a DNA profile.
Thee are many cases like Kiszco's in the annals of false confessions. Police, relying on little more than hunches and so-called experience, zero in on a suspect against which they have little evidence. This starts the process of "confirmation bias" in which police officers interpret all evidence to support their belief that their suspect is guilty and ignore or manipulate all evidence pointing to the suspect's innocence. This "tunnelvision" is common to all wrongful convictions, but is especially pronounced in the area of false confessions where the mere fact of a confession or an admission is enough evidence to set in stone the interrogator's belief that the suspect is guilty.