She’s So Cold: Murder, Accusations and the System that Devasted a Family by Donald E McInnis

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“Your parents believe you’re guilty, Michael, and they never want to see you again.”

This book was kindly provided to me by NetGalley and WildBlue Press in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: In the winter of January 1998, the small town of Escondido, California, was horrified when the body of 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe was found brutally murdered in her own bedroom. The police used psychological manipulation to force three 14-year-old boys to falsely confess to the murder. She’s So Cold traces the twists and turns of a real-life mystery which eventually changed the lives of fifteen people and cost a district attorney his job.

To protect children and teens from such manipulation in the future, McInnis proposes a new Children’s Miranda Rights Warning and a Bill of Rights for Children who are being questioned as suspects. These proposals must be adopted in order to prevent minors from making false confessions that could destroy their futures.

She’s So Cold is the story of a broken system. A system stacked against families and, most of all, against children. 

Annoyed. That’s how I felt during this book. Annoyed, angry, frustrated that this happened. From what I’ve seen, I would compare the feeling of injustice with Making a Murderer and the Central Park Five. That feeling that whatever you do, you can’t get it right. The truth is so close, though nobody believes you or wants to believe you.

The first part of the book consists of the endless interrogations that the police officers are conducting. At one part I was wondering if there was ever going to be an end to it. These three boys are getting interrogated for hours and hours and hours, being promised things, deprived of sleep and food, confessions pulled out of them.

The trial shows how ridiculous this case is. The hearing and the arguments being used, shows how little they actually have against the boys. Assuming that from a knife the murder is decided is just a lousy case. It sounded like the police had nothing but fake pieces of evidence. Nothing turned out to be a significant piece of evidence, except the forced confessions.

Interesting to me is that the police never seemed willing to catch the real killer. Richard Tuite, a man who was delusional and wandered around seeking a girl named Tracy around the time of the murder, was never seen as a suspect and never interrogated for the murder. Once Tuite was sentenced to jail, the police still didn’t want to admit that Tuite did it.

The Miranda Rights are a big part of this book. These are the right where the police needs to state to any suspect that:

  1. They have the right to remain silent
  2. anything the suspect does say can and may be used against them in a court of law
  3. they have the right to have an attorney present before and during the questioning
  4. they have the right, if they cannot afford the services of an attorney, to have one appointed, at public expense and without cost to them, to represent them before and during the questioning

The lack of these rights presented to the suspects in this case, is worrying. Every singly right has been ignored, which in my opinon already makes the confessions invalid. The author did right to show us why it’s so important that these rights are handled correctly and explains at the end of the book what the history behind these rights is.

I believe that it’s needed that these sort of cases are being shown to the world and that people read about this. In the last years injustice like this has been in the media a lot more. Movies, documentaries, and books are great ways to go deeper in these cases, but also to put pressure on the justice system and make clear that this way of solving crimes is not okay.

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

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