Etan Patz, the young son of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, disappeared
without a trace more than 30 years ago. At that time, roughly 200 people
came forward to falsely confess the violent crimes of
murder and kidnapping. Perhaps it was the brush with celebrity that caused so
many false confessions. Whatever it was, it made solving the crime more
difficult for the police.
“Wasn’t it just last month that we were digging up a basement,”
said the cop, “and were sure that it was another guy?” As
Jim Dwyer reports for the New York Times, the “publicity engine”
sometimes ensures that cops will be digging up basements of the wrongly
accused (or those who falsely confess).
Publicity, in other words, will guarantee confusion. In some cases, it
will even presume guilt in the court of public opinion, before charges
are filed against the accused.
At the time of Dwyer’s report, prosecutors still had not filed charges
against the newest person believed to be responsible for the crime, yet
both the police commissioner and mayor came out in front of microphones
to announce a confession.
If you are facing criminal charges, contact a
Maryland criminal attorney before you talk to police or anyone else.