Greetings once again to my dear readers from “The Gumshoe” as I submit to you another “truth stranger than fiction” tail from my police career.
Please let me digress for a moment, I loved watching classic movies since I grew up during the golden age of television. No matter what genre, I seemed to learn a deep sense of morality that was backed-up by The Baltimore Catechism from my stint in parochial school. God bless those dearly departed ruler armed nuns!
In 1953 the late actor, Montgomery Cliff played Father Logan in a movie entitled, “I Confess”. He portrayed a Catholic priest who hears the confession of a murderer. The good and pious Father Logan cannot break the sanctity of the confession and alert the police. The plot thickens when good old Monty, “Father Logan” becomes the alleged suspect. The person of “interest” in police jargon.
Note: I will not spoil the outcome of this fine acted movie for those of you who might want to view a good drama from your couch some rainy night with some microwaved popcorn and someone to share it with.
Okay, now I shall proceed with my tail since it plays a part in this real-life drama. No! I did not commit an unjustified homicide nor did I pretend to be a priest. Cops cannot legally do either one. Nor can a cop pretend to be a priest and murder someone – just to be perfectly clear.
It was about a decade and a half ago and I was a sheriff detective working special investigations – crimes against children. I happened by headquarters one day on some administrative business when our polygraph examiner saw me. She asked me if I would sit in on a preliminary interview of a bilingual suspect who was suspected of being involved in a domestic assault. She said that she wanted me to read the list of ten questions (yes or no) in English as well as in Spanish to the male adult suspect who was not in custody.
I quickly consented after I was assured that I would not have to do a lot of paperwork since my caseload was always heavy and that I was going to lunch shortly. I entered the interview room along with the sheriff detective polygrapher. She was an excellent investigator in her own right. I briefly advised the suspect that he was not in custody and that he could leave at any time during our interview.
Technical note: No need for Miranda when the suspect is not in custody nor feels that he is. Additionally, I explained to him that his presence is voluntary and that the interview room door was not locked, just closed for privacy.
I then read the battery often “yes or no” questions to him (one at a time both in English and Spanish) and I waited for each of his responses. This battery of ten questions is done twice in between a ten-minute break for the suspect to have an opportunity to relax and take a bathroom/water break. It also gives some time for the polygrapher to review and compare the test results between the two batteries of questioning.
Technical Note: The use of a polygraph is not admissible in a court of law. It is purely an investigative tool in the search for the truth.
When we entered the interview room to release the suspect pending further investigative follow-up; the suspect looks at me in earnest and starts telling me in a clear voice that he is a real life “Sicario” – an assassin (hit man) for a Mexican cartel. He further discloses to me that he had killed on separate occasions, four men and two women, who had run afoul of the drug cartel. He stated that he had cut up the bodies after he shot them.
Personal Note: So much for my planned lunch and the promise of no paperwork. Ugh!
He then wrote down his confession after he further said that he was wanted by the Mexican Federales for murder.
Needless to say (but I will say, myself along with the polygrapher were stunned by this spontaneous confession by the domestic battery suspect to seven cold-blooded murders – but we kept our “poker faces” and just let him talk and write. After all of the “habla”, I immediately placed my “esposas” (handcuffs) on this “Sicario” while we made further inquiries through the Mexican Consulate. Several hours later our secret “Sicario” was on his first steps back across our southern border. Adios and ole!
Now some of you fine folks may wonder how this Mexican murderer up and decided to confess since the investigation was only about a domestic assault committed in the good old U. S. of A. and was not connected to the mayhem in Mexico?
You see, for some twist of fate or providence, my wardrobe on that day consisted of a brand new white crew neck tee-shirt, a black short-sleeved shirt, black slacks with a black belt, black socks and shiny black laced shoes – I confess!
Till next time dear readers, this is The Gumshoe signing off – love the ones who love you and even the ones you don’t!
PS: Remember to see Monty’s flick.