Podcast: Behind The Scenes Look At Controversial Police Interrogation Method

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Krista Johnson/IowaWatch

Nearly four years since her arrest in July 2013 for felony aggravated battery against a child, Dorothy Varallo-Speckeen stands in late spring 2017 outside her East Moline home that she and Jennifer Schafer share.


Dorothy Varallo-Speckeen says she thought she was being called to the Moline, Illinois, police station in July 2013 to help solve a child abuse case. The then-22-year-old former Iowa City, Iowa, woman was surprised to find out that police suspected her of breaking both legs of a 15-month-old toddler.

Her case reveals how a controversial method of police interrogation called the Reid Technique works, and how critics say it sometimes produces false confessions — something Varallo-Speckeen says she delivered in that July 2013 police interview.

Screen shot from Moline, Illinois, police interview video

Dorothy Varallo-Speckeen in a July 24, 2013, Moline, Illinois, police interrogation.

“I think we will make a great stride in reducing the rate of false confessions when we complete the move away from controversial techniques like Reid,” said Dean Strang, a Madison, Wisconsin, lawyer who has become known as one of the defense attorneys featured in the Netflix program “Making a Murderer.” That program tells the story of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man convicted of a sex assault he didn’t commit.

Strang and others speak in this podcast of an IowaWatch Connection radio report that digs into the investigative method. The podcast includes portions of the recording of Varallo-Speckeen’s interrogation. The IowaWatch Connection is a weekly program featuring IowaWatch reporting. It is aired on 20 radio stations each weekend.

 

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