A TEENAGER CONFESSES TO MURDERING HIS KID SISTER, UNDER ILLEGAL POLICE PRESSURE -- WILL HIS CONFESSION DERAIL THE PROSECUTION WHEN ANOTHER MAN GOES ON TRIAL FOR MURDER? A "48 HOURS MYSTERY: 'WHO KILLED STEPHANIE CROWE?,'" SATURDAY, OCT. 16
Fourteen-year-old Michael Crowe of Escondido, Calif. confessed to murdering his 12-year-old sister, Stephanie, in her bedroom in January 1998. But was he telling the truth or was it another man, a drifter named Richard Tuite, who stabbed Stephanie while she slept? 48 HOURS Correspondent Bill Lagattuta has been following this case since it began in 1998 and reports for 48 HOURS MYSTERY: "Who Killed Stephanie Crowe?," to be broadcast Saturday, Oct. 16 (10:00 -- 11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Investigators initially focused on the Crowe family because there were no signs of forced entry. Soon after the murder, and following two days of police interrogation with no lawyer present, Michael confessed to killing his sister. Police also said he had help from two of his friends, Josh Treadway and Aaron Houser. However, the boys quickly recanted the confession, saying they made up the story under intense police pressure. Still, authorities charged Crowe and his buddies with murder and they prepared to stand trial.
Meanwhile, the family blamed Tuite, a drifter with a history of schizophrenia who was seen in the neighborhood the night of the murder. However, police were not convinced it was Tuite, citing a lack of physical evidence and saying that he couldn't have acted alone.
Lead defense attorney Mary Ellen Attridge disagreed and had Tuite's clothing reexamined, which lead to the discovery of bombshell evidence: Stephanie's DNA was found on Tuite's sweatshirt and tee-shirt.
After being jailed for almost a year, charges against the boys were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they could be charged again and a judge rules their confessions were gotten under illegal pressure. The investigation was taken over by the state attorney general's office. Now, six years after the crime, Tuite is standing trial for Stephanie's murder. But, questions remain -- will the boys' confessions create enough reasonable doubt to acquit Tuite of murder?
48 HOURS MYSTERY: "Who Killed Stephanie Crowe?" is produced by Marcie Spencer, Lourdes Aguiar and David Spungen. The senior producer is Katie Boyle and the executive producer is Susan Zirinsky.