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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

Thomas Quick and False Confessions

Nickie Phillips

In "Thomas Quick: The Swedish Serial Killer Who Never Was," The Guardian reports that Sweden's most notorious serial killer was a fraud--Quick (aka Sture Bergwall) falsely confessed to over 30 murders. Hannes Råstam documents the case in his book Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer. The Guardian states,

"Råstam unpicks in painstaking detail the way in which the deeply troubled Quick was able to gain key information surrounding each case from psychiatrists, police officers and lawyers, before cobbling together the rambling and confused testimonies into a coherent narrative that could stand up in court…

But why would a man confess to such sadistic and violent crimes if he was truly innocent? Back in the visitors' room at Säter, Sture Bergwall tries to explain. "It was about belonging to something," he says, speaking in Swedish through a translator."

While Bergwall's case is unusual, false confessions are not uncommon. For more information on false confessions, and best practices to avoid false confessions, check out the Innocence Project here