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False Confessions

Here are some of the questions that Jim is most frequently asked regarding false confessions in general as well as those involved in the two cases described in his book Fall Guys. If you have questions that are not answered here or in his book feel free to ask Jim using the contact information at the bottom of this page. Jim will try his best to answer as many questions as possible. Check back to see if your question has been added to this page.

  1. Did Detective Ted Botula, when he acquired false confessions from Charlie Zubryd (Duffy) and Jerry Pacek, know they were innocent boys?
    He didn't care one way or the other. Ted simply needed confessions to solve his two murder cases.
  2. What are come of the indications of a false confession?
    Confessions are suspect when the physical evidence contradicts the confessor's account of the crime, or when the interrogator feeds details of the crime to the person confessing. Factual inconsistency within the confession is another sign.
  3. Who is most vulnerable to confessing falsely?
    Anyone, under the right conditions, can falsely confess, but those most prone to this are young people, the mentally slow, and people terrified of the police. People who confess to crimes they did not commit often tell themselves that the investigators will eventually catch the real criminal and everything will be straightened out. Folks who believe this don't know much about the police.
  4. How can detectives guard against false confessions?
    Easy. They should never interrogate anyone unless they are 100 percent certain of their guilt.
  5. Can the judicial system do something to help reduce the number of false confessions?
    Yes. No one should be convicted solely on the strength of a confession. Reducing the number of lazy and incompetent defense attorneys would also help.
  6. Jerry Pacek served ten years in a maximum security prison. Was he ever compensated by the state for his wrongful incarceration?
    No. His civil suit was thrown out of federal court on a procedural technicality. The state legislature could pass a law calling for compensation for Jerry, but so far that has not happened.
  7. Did Jerry Pacek and Charles Duffy ever meet?
    No. They were aware, however, of each other's treatment at the hands of Detective Ted Botula.
  8. Do you believe that Ted Botula was an evil man?
    That's not for me to know. I do believe, however, that he did an evil thing when he solved two murders on the backs of a pair of innocent boys. Jerry Pacek lived as a marked man for 33 years before his name was cleared. Chuck Duffy lived 35 years thinking that he may have murdered his mother. Ted Botula personifies, in my opinion, the concept of banality of evil.
  9. Could either one of these cases happen today?
    Cases like this, notwithstanding all of the procedural protections built into modern law, still occur. Modern science - DNA - has been responsible for the vindication of many innocent prisoners.
  10. Have you stayed in touch with Jerry Pacek?
    Jerry Pacek passed away on November 24, 2004. I consider him a personal hero.

This page was last updated on: Monday, January 7, 2008

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A. James Fisher
Dept. of Political Science & Criminal Justice, 146 Hendricks Hall
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, PA 16444
e-mail: jfisher@edinboro.edu blog: http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com