Four men convicted in 1985 gas station cashier murder may have made false confessions
Four men convicted of the 1985 murder of 28-year-old Michelle Mooij at a gas station in Warnsveld may have been convicted based on false confessions. Recordings of their interrogations show the police manipulatively and aggressively pressuring the four men to confess, a group of investigative journalists from KRO-NCRV found in a reconstruction of the criminal investigation, the Volkskrant reports.
Michelle Mooij was stabbed to death at the Shell gas station on Rijksstraatweg in Warnsveld in 1985. Her body was found next to her car, parked at the gas station. Seventeen years later, in 2002, a tip led the police to four suspects. In 2004, Kobus S., Marty ten B., Godfried van Haut, and Hein Krombos were convicted on appeal and sentenced to between 6 and 8 years in prison, largely based on their confessions.
The men confessed after days of interrogations, during which they were kept awake at night. There are also clear signs of the police leading the confessions, according to the journalists in a three-part documentary series about the case. Detectives fed the suspects perpetrator knowledge and forcibly corrected them if they said something in their confession that did not correspond with the evidence. For example, after the 13th interrogation, Krombos confessed to attacking the victim inside the gas station, while Mooij was stabbed outside after she had closed the station.
Legal psychologist Annelies Vredevelt, who specializes in police interrogations, told the journalists that the confessions were “completely directed by the police” and were “clearly false.”
The confessions, which were later retracted, are also not supported by other evidence. DNA found on the victim’s body does not match any of the four men, for example. Former judge Henk van Harreveld, who acquitted the four in 2002 due to lack of evidence, said that the appeals court’s convictions were based on a “deficient evidentiary wreckage” of unreliable and contradictory statements. He couldn’t believe that they were convicted on appeal in 2004, even though no new evidence came to light after he acquitted them.
Kobus S. died in prison. The other three served their sentences. Godfried van Haut fought for this case to be reviewed since he was released in October 2008 until he died in June 2013, without the case being reopened.