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[DRAFT] The Killer's Confession

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Verdant Haven
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Founded: Feb 26, 2013
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[DRAFT] The Killer's Confession

Postby Verdant Haven » Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:45 pm

This issue is inspired by the saga of alleged serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, and the massive corruption that lead to his celebrity status. He was a murderer, to be sure, but nothing like what his confessions claimed. This is very much motivated by the recently released and deeply disturbing documentary series "The Confession Killer" about this very topic.

[TITLE] The Killer's Confession

[VALIDITY] At least moderate levels of both corruption and crime


[DESCRIPTION] Police claimed Henry Lee @@RANDOMLASTNAME_1@@ was one of the deadliest serial killers in the history of @@NAME@@, having confessed to first three, then a dozen, and now well over 100 murders in a relatively short period. The police had been rapidly clearing cases, bringing closure to numerous families. Now, evidence is suggesting that the confessions were false, even coerced, raising the specter of widespread law enforcement corruption looming over the nation.


[OPTION 1] "Nonsense!" drawls celebrity sheriff @@RANDOMFIRSTNAME@@ Wellbout, striking a pose for a horde of photographers. "@@RANDOMLASTNAME_1@@ confessed to these crimes and gave us details only the killer could know. Ain't nobody gonna do that but the real murderer. Now if you'll excuse me, ol' Henry confessed to another one today, so I owe him a milkshake!" Pausing to sign autographs on the way out, @@HE@@ locks eyes on you. "Best not to look to close – wouldn't want to get your nose dirty!"

[EFFECT 1] "evidence" is considered synonymous with "inconvenience"


[OPTION 2] "The details Henry provided are those the sheriff fed him in advance!" warns @@RANDOMMALEFIRSTNAME@@ Feazell, government prosecutor in @@CAPITAL@@. "He's confessing to cases we already solved. He even confessed to one we completely made up just to test him! It's obvious he's being manipulated by corrupt law enforcement just so they can close their books and make a name for themselves. We need to set up a special commission to purge corruption in our ranks! There can be no justice in @@NAME@@ until we do."

[EFFECT 2] officers recording confessions are immediately investigated for abuse of office


[OPTION 3] "I've spoken at length with both Mr. @@RANDOMLASTNAME_1@@ and Sheriff Wellbout, and I think they're just the sweetest men!" urges Sister @@RANDOMFEMALEFIRSTNAME@@, the volunteer counselor assisting Henry. "Henry's faculties are so limited he just didn't know what he was confessing to, and the sheriff had no idea this might be a sham! What we need is extensive training for our police officers so they can recognize when a suspect has special needs, and act accordingly!"

[EFFECT 3] the back seats of police cruisers have been replaced with a psychiatrists' couches


[OPTION 4] "There may be a problem here, but it's not the cops" intones Col. @@RANDOMFIRSTNAME@@ Adams, head of the sheriff's office in question. "I know this prosecutor, Feazell. A nosy little do-gooder is what he is, a bleeding-heart fool who think he's going to topple the system. Listen, I've got some connections in Intelligence… let me take care of him. We'll wreck his image so fast, nobody will ever question law enforcement again."

[EFFECT 4] police badges proudly bear the motto "I am the law"




1st Draft:
[TITLE] The Killer's Confession

[VALIDITY] At least moderate levels of both corruption and crime


[DESCRIPTION] Police claimed Henry Lee @@RANDOMLASTNAME_1@@ was one of the deadliest serial killers in the history of @@NAME@@, having confessed to first three, then a dozen, and now well over 100 murders in a relatively short period. Law enforcement officials have been rapidly clearing cases, bringing closure to numerous families. Now, evidence is suggesting that the confessions were false, meaning scores of real murderers may still be on the loose across the nation, their cases erroneously closed.


[OPTION 1] "Nonsense!" drawls celebrity sheriff @@RANDOMFIRSTNAME@@ Wellbout, striking a pose for a horde of photographers. "@@RANDOMLASTNAME_1@@ confessed to these crimes and gave us details only the killer could know. Ain't nobody gonna do that but the real murderer. Now if you'll excuse me, ol' Henry confessed to another one today, so I owe him a milkshake!" Pausing to sign autographs on the way out, @@HE@@ locks eyes on you. "Best to keep closing cases, doncha think?"

[EFFECT 1] "evidence" is considered synonymous with "inconvenience"


[OPTION 2] "The details Henry provided are those the sheriff fed him in advance!" warns @@RANDOMMALEFIRSTNAME@@ Feazell, government prosecutor in @@CAPITAL@@. "He's confessing to cases we already solved. He even confessed to one we completely made up just to test him! It's obvious he's being manipulated by corrupt law enforcement just so they can close their books and make a name for themselves. We have to re-open cases, throw out his confessions, and purge corruption in our ranks!"

[EFFECT 2] criminals offering confessions are immediately charged with perjury


[OPTION 3] "I've spoken at length with Mr. @@RANDOMLASTNAME_1@@ during his time in prison, and I think he's just the sweetest man!" urges Sister @@RANDOMFEMALEFIRSTNAME@@, the volunteer counselor assisting Henry. "He was tricked in to confessing, and just feels awful about all this trouble. It's on account of his terrible childhood, you see? You should set him free immediately, and go after the parents whose abuse and neglect lead children down bad paths!"

[EFFECT 3] parents sit in detention for the spitballs of their children


[OPTION 4] "There may be a problem here, but it's not the confessions" intones Col. @@RANDOMFIRSTNAME@@ Adams, head of the sheriff's office in question. "I know this prosecutor, Feazell. A nosy little do-gooder is what he is, a bleeding-heart fool who think he's going to topple the system. Listen, I've got some connections in Intelligence… let me take care of him. We'll wreck his image so fast, nobody will ever question law enforcement again."

[EFFECT 4] police badges proudly bear the motto "I am the law"
Last edited by Verdant Haven on Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Australian rePublic
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Postby Australian rePublic » Thu Feb 13, 2020 2:08 pm

You just said there were cameras. Won't the cameras provide proof?
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Lelscrep
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Postby Lelscrep » Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:40 pm

This one and your last one, I'm having issues critiquing them, another good issue! If there's one thing I may point out, it would be the description being a bit on the lengthy side. Possibly find ways to condense the information you've written there and I think it will flow better, but it's all up to you of course. :)
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Candlewhisper Archive
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Postby Candlewhisper Archive » Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:22 am

It's a nice premise, but doesn't sound like something you'd expect anyone outside of the criminal justice system to be involved in dealing with. Surely various chiefs of police would decide when a case is open or closed?

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Verdant Haven
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Founded: Feb 26, 2013
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Postby Verdant Haven » Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:58 am

Candlewhisper Archive wrote:It's a nice premise, but doesn't sound like something you'd expect anyone outside of the criminal justice system to be involved in dealing with. Surely various chiefs of police would decide when a case is open or closed?


I definitely need to draft in more clarity about why this needs leader-level involvement - I wanted to make sure I got my base structure written while it was fresh in my mind.

Basically, what's really at play in this issue is A) corruption, and B) pardoning the falsely convicted, both of which are reasonably handled at a national level.

Here's some background on the real world version of this. Sorry it's very long, but this is a horrifyingly convoluted and corruption-filled tale:

- Henry Lee Lucas was considered a serial killer in the 80s - the most deadly in American history. He confessed to the murder of his mother when young (the mom was violently abusive), and to the later murder of his girlfriend and the woman they were working for. These are murders he did actually commit - nobody really questions these.

- Lucas was had a very low IQ (in the 80s), was extremely suggestible (extremely high scores for Confabulation), and suffered from a massive lingering traumatic brain injury (ostensibly caused by his mother clubbing him unconscious with a 2x4 as a child).

- After he had been arrested on an unrelated charge, and then confessed to the latter pair of murders (and lead investigators to the bodies, giving him credibility), he was imprisoned. In prison, he was allegedly beaten and tortured by both other inmates and the jailers.

- When he would be pulled for interviews, he would be treated differently. He was given fancy steak dinners, cigarettes, and luxuries for his cell. This triggered him to want to keep those amenities coming, so when police started pressing him, he started confessing to additional murders, which he hadn't done.

- Suddenly having somebody claiming a huge number of murders, a task force of the Texas Rangers (state police of Texas) was set up to see what he could be connected to. Law enforcement from all around the country began flying in to see if Lucas could be linked to their crimes. He confessed to first 100, then 150, then 360, then over 600 murders in something like 8 years.

- The sheriff who had charge of him, Sheriff Boutwell, began to treat him like a celebrity, and in turn, became a celebrity himself. He let Lucas freely wander the jail (public and private areas) without handcuffs, had him helping on the phones for the task force, and coordinated his calendar. When Lucas would confess to a crime, Boutwell would buy him a milkshake. So many police were driving and flying in to see him, that there would be lines of different police departments waiting at the jail, and they would get as little as 20 minutes to talk to Lucas. They would show up with pre-typed confessions for him to sign (describing the crime), and let him read them. They would try to "refresh his memory" by showing him the crime scene photographs and telling him details about the murders. Then, when he would respond with "memories" describing what he had just been shown, they would say he had given them details only the killer would know, have him sign the pre-written confession, and depart. They would give him maps showing where things occurred, and then take him to those places. When he walked to where the photographs had shown the body, they'd say he'd led them to the crime scene.

- Some departments began to get suspicious. One homicide investigator put together an entire false case file and brought the information to Lucas. Lucas immediately confessed to committing the non-existent crime. A nearby district attorney (equivalent: crown prosecutor) named Vic Feazell had doubts when Lucas confessed to several crimes that were already solved. He began to research not just the confessions for his area, but many others. They began mapping the alleged dates and locations of the crimes, and showed that he would have had to have been traveling more than 50mph around the clock without stopping for days on end to bounce back and forth between scenes fast enough. 2000 miles in 2 days one direction, then over 1000 miles back the way he came the next day, then hundreds of miles in a circle, etc. All of this occurring during periods where they had proof he was living and working in a single place a thousand+ miles away.

- When Feazell tried to publicly question the confessions, and make it known that some were false, the Texas Rangers came down like a ton of bricks. The head of the agency, a state level official named Col. Jim Adams, told Feazell in no uncertain terms that not only would there be no re-opening of cases, but that he would be investigating Feazell now in retaliation for making statements against the Rangers. Adams was the former associate director of the FBI, and had many friends and connections at the federal level involved in covert work. Feazell and his family was harassed at home, their phones were tapped, their house was broken in to, his dog was poisoned, and eventually he was (falsely) arrested on federal charges of soliciting bribes. Adams had put together an entire fake dossier and given it all to a local news agency, with whom he worked to do an entire series of character assassinations on Feazell. Adams then used this manufactured news series as the evidence to convince a federal grand jury to bring charges - it was literally the only evidence presented. Feazell was eventually acquitted of all charges, and then won the largest libel lawsuit in history (to that point) against the news agency. His life was wrecked though - his wife divorced him, he lost his kids, and he ended up resigning from office before his term was up due to the ongoing harassment and the bad public perception created by Adams' work.

- Lucas had told several people that his confessions were lies. He told a journalist who covered him with unfettered access for many months, Hugh Aynesworth, as well as Sister Clemmie - a nun who was the jail chaplain.

- Throughout much of the time he was confessing, he was under an active death warrant for a murder (which he didn't commit, but did confess to). He had been told as long as he kept confessing, he wouldn't be executed. On the brief occasion when Lucas was removed from Boutwell's custody, he recanted his confessions and said he was manipulated in to giving them. As soon as Boutwell got control again, he started confessing again. He would occasionally say that even he didn't know what was true, and he didn't know why he was confessing to crimes he didn't commit. When he eventually told Boutwell it was all lies and he wouldn't confess to more, he was sent to Death Row.

- His death sentence was eventually commuted to life in prison by George W. Bush, who was Texas governor at the time, because of the vast amount of evidence that he was not actually guilty of the crime he'd been sentenced for. This occurred during W's run for president, and was a political hot potato because many of the families fully believed Lucas to be guilty - they wanted the closure it brought, and it was too painful to have the idea that their family member's killer was still free. To placate them, W agreed to have DNA testing done on old cases. This immediately excluding Lucas as a suspect, and in at least 20 cases so far, has proven somebody else guilty. The family activist group has now completely switched sides.

- To this day, the Texas Rangers deny any wrongdoing, and claim that Feazell was corrupt and just trying to make them look bad. They claim that despite the abundant evidence to the contrary, Lucas committed all those murders. Many of the local police agencies that wrongly closed cases refuse to re-open them despite family requests, even when presented with all the research and evidence to exonerate Lucas (something done by professional cold case groups, family members, etc).


So, basically, it is a colossal nation-wide embarrassment. While individual jurisdictions do have authority over "closing" cases, the part I really want to get at is rooting out corruption (which can only be done at the federal level, so long as local agencies remain unwilling to self-reflect), and addressing clemency (which is a high-level prerogative). I'll work on making that part of the story clearer, and making it less about the specifics of opening and closing individual cases.
Last edited by Verdant Haven on Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:25 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Verdant Haven
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Posts: 564
Founded: Feb 26, 2013
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Verdant Haven » Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:50 pm

Posted a new draft. Main points of alteration are:

- Refocused it, and made sure it emphasized that the issue being decided is one of law-enforcement corruption - not any individual cases.

- Updated texts for options 1, 2, and 3

- Adjusted effect lines 2 and 3 (not super happy with 3's yet)


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