Odd Murder Confessions From '70s Second-Guessed

Suspects weren't sure whether they'd been involved
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2014 12:17 PM CDT
Odd Murder Confessions From '70s Second-Guessed
Multiple confessions to a pair of Iceland murders remain a source of controversy: Were they genuine?   (Shutterstock)

In the 1970s, six people confessed to killing two men in Iceland, apparently explaining the victims' mysterious 1974 disappearances and ending what the justice minister called "the nation's nightmare." But the suspects, who were all convicted—with one sentenced to life in prison—at first didn't seem to remember the killings. During their interrogations, they were subjected to long periods of solitary confinement; one had his head dipped in water and faced drowning threats, while another received daily psychiatric drugs, the BBC reports. Forty years later, the confessions are being investigated again.

Photos show suspects were prompted to re-enact their alleged crimes, a process that can cause suspects to develop false memories and thus "contaminates the entire case," says a former detective and expert on false memories. Meanwhile, diaries from two of the convicts point toward innocence: "This is a diary that an innocent man is keeping in here regarding a big case that he is wrongly accused for," wrote Tryggvi Leifsson, who was in solitary confinement for 655 days. "I can’t remember anything and I’m losing my mind," wrote Gudjon Skarphedinsson. Now, it's up to the state prosecutor to decide whether the cases should be sent to Iceland's supreme court; if they are, the convictions could ultimately be thrown out. Click to read the BBC's very lengthy story in full. (Read more murder stories.)

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