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Episode 12: Saratoga Springs 911 Call

In February 2010, a woman called 911 in Saratoga Springs, Utah. She’d gone to get cigarettes with a man she knew, and they drank vodka together in the parking lot of the convenience store.Shortly afterward, she said she began to feel “extremely tired.” She says she passed out, and when she came round, she says she was naked and the man was on top of her. She asked him to take her home, but he said he had to run some errands, and began driving down the highway away from town.
The woman told her abductor that she had to call her sister, because if she didn’t return home, her sister would call the police. She then called 911. Taking in the situation with great instincts, the dispatcher uses yes-or-no questions to learn that the caller is being held against her will. During the conversation, you can hear her whisper, “Help me!” It isn’t clear whether the woman’s abductor is not paying much attention or is simply clueless; she asks him about the road they’re on, the speed they’re traveling and the color of the vehicle they’re riding in–questions that would seem to suggest that the woman is not talking to her sister, or that her sister is strangely inquisitive. But she gets away with it, and manages to alert the police to the whereabouts of the truck. They are able to pull GPS information from her phone, so she needs to stay on the line until she’s rescued.
Finally, officers find the truck and pull it over. The caller then becomes very emotional, and starts sobbing. She was still naked, and the man was partially undressed. Although he had a number of previous convictions, the man was not charged in this case because, as in so many rape cases, the woman decided she didn’t want to co-operate.

Listen to the 911 call here.

Episode 11: Ted Bundy Confession

Five days before his execution for the murders of two sorority girls and a 12 year old girl, Ted Bundy said he wanted to speak with detectives from Washington, Colorado, and Utah to talk about the women he had killed there in those states. This is the confession he made to the officer from Utah.
    Bundy sounds exhausted, possibly even drugged. He’s been through two previous two confessions and has had very little sleep. He will be executed in five days. The officer has “five missing girls” he’s especially interested in talking about. Bundy asks for a map of Utah to direct the detective to the girls’ remains because, “it’s so much easier for me to try to locate the bodies than it is to talk about the actual thing,” he says.
They begin by discussing 17-year-old Debby Kent, whom Bundy admits to abducting from her high school parking lot. He admits he killed her between leaving the school and arriving at the burial site, but answers only “yes” or “no” to questions about the murder itself.
     On the other hand, he goes into great detail about the topography of the state, its small towns, the territory, details of the highways, and even the people. One of the places on the map in Utah is where Brigham Young had his summer home, the cop tells Bundy, which leads to a light exchange about Mormons. “They’re always at your door,” laughs Ted. “Knock knock knock. Freshly scrubbed faces. Good people, though. No question that they’re wonderful people. Absolutely the best. That’s what makes the place so nice. Even if you’re not of that persuasion.”
   “How about Nancy Wilcox?” asks the detective. “Are they all down in the same area?”
 “Let’s do one at a time,” says Bundy. “Let’s focus on this one.” He says he’s “just about ready to collapse” and “this is the one that I have the clearest recollection of.” He speaks about the murder very passively.
“She was restrained and placed in the car then taken to my apartment,” he says, claiming he was “not very conscious of what was going on.” He complains that he finds the murders difficult to think about:
   “What’s hard to appreciate is that the reality is that when I talk about kind of this stuff, it just drains me in a way that’s hard to disguise. I have not thought of these kinds of things for years. To attempt to re-live them vividly and to have to describe them, especially to the point if locating remains, my mind is just tied in knots right now, and I’m having a hard time. I’m having a hard time.”
    Using Bundy’s directions searchers later found one small kneecap bone belonging to a young woman believed to be Debby Kent.


Etiology of the Psychopathic Serial Killer, Rebecca Taylor LaBrode, Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 7.2 May 2007, 151-161.

Episode 10: Stephanie Lazarus Interrogation

51-year-old Stephanie Lazarus was a respected 26-year veteran of the L.A.P.D. who had worked her way up from an ordinary police officer to a specialist in high-profile art theft. On June 5, 2009, she was taken aside by two colleagues and led downstairs into an interrogation room, where she was told she was needed to interrogate a suspect. But once in the room, the tables turned, and it was Stephanie Lazarus who was interrogated – about her part in a long-ago murder. Unbeknownst to her, Lazarus had been identified from a bite mark as the murderer of nurse Sherrie Rae Rasmussen 23 years ago. Rasmussen had been married for only three months to John Ruetten, an old boyfriend of Stephanie’s with whom she was very much in love.  In March 2012, Stephanie Lazarus was convicted of the murder of Sherri Rasmussen. She was sentenced to 27 years. Listen to the way the interrogator eases Lazarus slowly gradually along towards discussing the case.

Listen to the interrogation here. (1 hour 12 minutes)

Interview Transcript

Stephanie Lazarus Appeal Opening Brief

Court’s Response to Stephanie Lazarus Appeal

Watch the interrogation on Youtube

Episode 9: BTK Court Confession

Dennis Rader, better known as the BTK (bind, torture, kill) serial killer, stalked and murdered ten people in Kansas, wrote taunting letters to the police and newspapers, and collected items from each murder scene. He was married with children, a member of Christ Lutheran Church, a cub scout leader, and had been elected president of the church council. In this recording from his trial on June 27 2005, Rader described his murders in detail and offers no apology. In January 1974, he killed a family of four; in April 1974 he killed a 21-year old woman. Two more women were killed in 1977. There were no further killings for eight years, then one in 1985, another in 1986, and a third in 1991, all women between the ages of 24 and 62.

As in the Bundy confession, Rader’s description of his crimes is notable for the speaker’s flat affect, emotionless tone, and the way he glosses over the most important details of the crimes (emphasizing how he made his victims comfortable, brought them water or cushions before “putting them down”) yet has a semi-autistic memory for insignificant details–numbers of houses, the places he parked his car). He also uses a lot of police report terminology and often explains the way “serial killers” think, and the stages of their operation, as if he were describing  someone other than himself. Listen for his mispronunciation of “ruse” as “russ,” which he quickly corrects, and the judge’s confusion between “trolling” and “patrolling.”

Listen to the confession here.

Dennis Rader, Summary of Evidence (Court Record)

Watch the confession on Youtube

Episode 8: Philip Markoff Police Interrogation

Philip Markoff was a well-bred medical student at Boston University with no criminal record when he was arrested by police, who had evidence that he was the “Craigslist Killer.” In this interview, police present Markoff with security camera footage, cell phone activity, and email accounts as evidence that he committed the armed robbery and kidnapping of two escorts in hotel rooms on April 10, and the murder of a third on April 14. Markoff always claimed to be innocent, and on August 15, 2010, one year and one day after the date his wedding was to have taken place, he committed suicide in his prison cell by cutting his major arteries with a primitive scalpel, and swallowing toilet paper to be sure he would not be revived. In this interview which led to his arrest, Markoff, who has just been pulled over on his way to Foxwoods Casino with his fiancee Megan McAllister, is initially friendly, denies all knowledge of the crimes, gradually becomes suspicious and hesitant, then clams up and asks to speak to a lawyer. He continued to claim innocence of the crimes.

Listen to the police interrogation here.

Suffolk District Attorney’s Press Release on Markoff’s Suicide

Episode 7: Megan McAllister Police Interview

Megan McAllister was the fiancee of Philip Markoff, sometimes known as the “Craigslist Killer,” who who was charged with the armed robbery and murder of Julissa Brisman in a Boston hotel room on April 14, 2009, as well as other armed robberies of escorts he met on Craiglist. Megan met Markoff when they were both hospital volunteers. Markoff was in Boston University Medical School, and the couple had planned their wedding planned for August 14, 2009. Markoff and McAllister were arrested on April 20 2009 on their way home from to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. McAllister had no idea of Markoff’s secret life, and continued to believe in his innocence until she broke off their relationship after a prison visit in June 2009.

Listen to the police interview here.

Episode 6: Bear Attack 911 Call

In June 2008, Petra Davis, 15, was 13 hours into a 24-hour trail-bike race in Far North Bicentennial Park in Anchorage, Alaska, when she was attacked by a grizzly bear. She survived the attack and crawled back to the trail, where she was found by her friend and coach Peter Bassinger, who called 911 and stopped other cyclists in the race as they passed. The bear punctured a lung, broke eight ribs, mauled her right leg and nicked Petra’s carotid artery. Despite these injuries, she recovered quickly and reports that she has almost no memory of the attack.

Listen to the 911 call here.

More about this story.

Episode 5: Russell Williams Interrogation, Part 3

By now, Detective Smyth has developed a rapport with Williams, using friendly and understanding conversation to create a non-threatening atmosphere. In the final section of the interrogation, Smyth asks Williams for details about other crimes he sexually-related offenses he’s committed, and continues to ask him where to find evidence of the crimes. Smyth tries to remain impartial and non-judgemental even when Williams tells him where to find videos of his crimes, as well as chests full of stolen lingerie, and even photographs of himself wearing it.

Edited Transcript of the Russell Williams interrogation

Watch the interrogation on Youtube

Episode 4: Russell Williams Interrogation, Part 2

In the second stage of the Reid interrogation technique, the goal is to make the suspect progressively more and more comfortable with acknowledging the truth about what they’ve done. Williams remains in denial at first, unable to believe the situation he’s found himself in, but as soon as he says, “Call me Russ,” Smyth knows he has broken through the Colonel’s terrible wall of silence.

In this part hour of the interrogation, Smyth is most urgently interested in finding the body of Jessica Lloyd as soon as possible. Once he has the location of her body, he sends out officers to find it, then he moves on to talk to Williams about her murder and the other crimes he’s suspected of (the murder of Marie-France Comeau and the sexual abuse of two other women, whom he tied up and photographed). Although Williams’s responses are shocking and Smyth is clearly disturbed by them, he continued to remain composed, understanding, patient, and non-demeaning. As in similar criminal confessions (such as those of Ted Bundy and Dennis Rader), Williams is monosyllabic when it comes to the most important details, which have to be forced from him by Smyth, but is happy to talk about related issues such as the number of kilometers) he drove from Jessica Lloyd’s home (he’s obsessed with numbers, as well as underwear).

Once Williams has confessed to Jessica Lloyd’s murder, Smyth goes on to ask Williams about the murder of Corporal Marie-France Comeau.

Listen to the second part of the interrogation here.

Documents in the case against Williams.

Affadavit of Mary Elizabeth Harriman, the wife of Colonel Williams

Watch the interrogation on Youtube


Episode 3: Russell Williams Interrogation, Part 1

Russell Williams was a 47-year -old married Colonel in the Royal Canadian Air Force whose sex crimes has increased in severity from peeping through windows, to stealing underwear, to forcible restraint, to sexual assault and murder. By February 7, 2010, when this interrogation took place, the Ontario police had enough evidence to place him at the scene of the home of Jessica Lloyd, a 22-year-old woman who had recently gone missing. The interrogation took place over 10 hours. In the interrogation, Detective Sergeant Jim Smyth uses what’s known as  “the Reid technique,” which involves bonding and forming a relationship with the person being interrogated, finding their weak points and pressing on them very subtly.  In this first hour, Smyth treats Williams with respect and deference, but slowly begins to present a series of increasingly damning connections between Williams and the death of Jessica Lloyd.

Williams, too, remains relaxed at first. He begins the interview by blithely noting that the previous officer who came to interview him was also named Russ, and appears eager to co-operate, but his nervous quick responses make him sound very much like Norman Bates being interrogated by Arbogast in Hitchcock’s Psycho. He clearly grows increasingly agitated, his answers getting shorter and shorter, until at last he clams up entirely,  giving nothing away (at times, he is silent for almost five minutes).

Finally, Smyth hits the right button. He says that even as they speak, officers are tearing apart Williams’s wife’s new “dream home.” This is Williams’s fatal weakness. He agrees to co-operate to “minimize” the effects of his crimes upon his wife.

Listen to Part 1 of the interrogation here

Transcript of the first hour of the interrogation

Watch the interrogation on Youtube