Videos: Anatomy Of A Bad Confession

BOSTON — In 2008, two Worcester detectives spent two hours interrogating 16-year-old Nga Truong, whose baby son had just died, until they forced from her what was later judged a coerced confession of murder. We’ve obtained exclusive video of the confession. (Read the report: Part 1, Part 2.)

Here are five excerpts from the interrogation:

Click here to watch an interview with Nga Truong
Click here for reporter David Boeri’s reflections

'Either you're a liar or you just got the worst luck in the world.'

'People will be much more understanding if you ... say, 'I'm a 16-year-old girl.' '

'If this drags out, then we'll push to try you as an adult. I don't really care.'

'You tell us what happened, we walk right out here, to special crimes juvenile...'

'I smothered Khyle.'

An Interview With Nga Truong

David Boeri On 'Anatomy Of A Bad Confession'

David Boeri On Interrogation Techniques

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  • Ren Knopf

    I listened this morning to David’s report with this interview and it was really all I could do to not leave the room. Dark fascination? Or just the anger from the abuse of facts and truth that I was hearing. The reported bright line of where she would be tried was far from the only line these two crossed to my mind. Exaggeration and mis-direction are tools, I understand that; but from the mouths of officers with closed minds, they became lies told to a grieving 16-year old denied counsel for the purpose of molding her to their view. Brick hammers pounding an arguably damaged psyche. So changes have been made? That’s nice. But what of the young woman? What has been her fate from this rough, criminally-flawed, justice? And Sgt Pageau and Det. Doherty and their bosses who went along with this? What of them? Have their hard, closed minds been cracked open? This listener, tired of hearing and reading about learning curves that defy geometry, would like to know.
    Ren Knopf, Framingham

    • dbgt

      She lost her son. She lost 2.5 years of her life.  I hope she is able to rise above this in some way.  And to Sgt Pageau:  I know (or at least hope) that you thought you were doing the right thing, but just suppose you had a crystal ball and suddenly could see that you were wrong.  How could you live with what you did to her and what it has cost her?

      • fet

        i know her personally and shes is down very well she is now in college and getting her life together.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        he got promoted

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1188702570 Ellen Rose Greenfield

    sounds like a lawsuit to me.

  • Amjadchoudhry

    It was a good story and I hope police learns to do the job right. poor woman will not be the same again.

  • Ed Herlihy

    This was a 16 year old girl who was questioned under suspicion after her baby died…

    Was she advised of her Miranda rights?

    Was she provided council?

    Do these cops still have jobs?

    This was inexcusable… 

    • SCOTT

      Counsel or counsel?

      As to the substance: The police are looking for a murderer.  What questions would you have had them ask?  They didn’t yell or berate or threaten violence.  You make a good point about her Miranda rights and if she was denied counsel, that would be grounds for dismissing the confession.

      • Scott

        Council or counsel?  Ah, it’s too early in the morning.

      • Where’s justice

        “What questions would you have had them ask?” – I’m not an expert in criminal justice, but I do know that what these two detectives were doing was psychological abuse. On top of it, to a minor who did not know of the consequences of her confession.  How about asking “fact finding” questions instead of phrasing presumptive questions and lying about help Ms. Truong was going to receive?

      • Rodgerian

        the autopsy was inclusive why where they looking for a Murderer?

      • HMF

        Why were they so sure it was a murder?  They distorted facts (lied) to make it appear to be a murder.  Does that not bother you?

  • Joh Harrison

    We don’t want to water board a terrorist, but we allow this
    to happen.  Does everyone realize this
    could happen to any US citizen?

    • rayy

      Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • Anonymous

    Kudos on this important work of investigative journalism.  Thank you for pushing for the release of this videotape.

    Before I started researching shaken baby syndrome, I had no idea how often coerced confessions become a key piece of evidence, especially in child-abuse cases. I watched one 3-hour interrogation over and over in amazement, as two police detectives essentially bullied a terrified young nanny relentlessly until she agreed, in broken English, that they were right: she had thrown the child to the floor. Her family was so convinced the videotape proved her innocence the attorney played it in court, but the jury apparently considered it a legitimate confession and convicted her.

    For a shaken baby case with a more careful detective, please see http://onsbs.com/prologue/

  • HMF

    Their job is to interrogate, not to bully a teenager.  Very unprofessional behavior.

  • arty

    when anybody is pepper with so many questions these people are just looking for their answer not the one you had ever started with … young lady is not guilty

  • koy

    Sadly, this happens to U.S. citizens all the time. Investigators forget who they are working for!!!!!! Disgusting!!!!

  • Babydoll198821

    This story is soo sad, I know Nga Trying, I was in Chicopee jail with her and we continue to stay friends now, its so sad because if u know her u not only know that she is a amazing person but that she would never hurt anybody. I now know that the struggle she must have endured each day inside that jail must have been excruciating. I love this girl to death, she made it easier for me in western mass regional correctional and sh always made me laugh, someone so pure spirited should never have gotten such tortured questioning especially after she lost her beautiful child. NGA honey iu know I’m always here for u!! -Elizabeth-

  • http://www.facebook.com/anorenestarr Norene Starr

    we the people have given too much power to authorities

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