SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Their job is to solve crimes and ideally getting a confession from a suspect will close the case.
Detectives with the Unified Police Department offered ABC 4 News a rare glimpse of what happens inside the interrogation room. For obvious reasons they would not talk about the strategy that is involved while interviewing suspects.
They offered two examples of crimes that happened years ago to show the inside of a police investigation. One of the cases involved a 2007 murder.
"This was a violent, violent crime,” says Christine Brown with the Violent Crimes Unit.
It’s up to Brown and other detectives to solve the crime.
“It could be a week, a year, 20 years later before you make an arrest,” says veteran detective Todd Park.
Five years ago, brown arrived to the crime scene in Neff Canyon. 19-year old Ben Perkins-Link was found dead. But there was a witness.
“He was able to escape and flag down a car,” Brown recalls.
His 911 call led to Christopher Hewitt. But the case was just starting. Investigators say they need evidence and ideally a confession.
In a taped interview with the suspect, Hewitt spoke openly about the crime. Detectives say he voluntarily made his statements.
And during the interview, Hewitt talks about taking drugs.
“We finally find a spot and I wanted to do coke (cocaine) so I open a coke bag,” Hewitt tells Brown and a second detective who is with her. “We went somewhere else and we smoked it.
Brown learns the trio went to the mountains. Hewitt says he brings a metal bar in case they come across a bear. And then Hewitt unloads the following to detectives.
Hewitt: "It's after the crack that I wanted to kill Ben.”
Hewitt: “Because he's always been crude to me."
Brown who is asking the questions says her strategy is to get more information.
“I want to get as much detail as I can from him,” she tells ABC 4 News. “I want to find out why it happened.”
Hewitt: “I just started talking about a bear and I started screaming about a bear, bear. Then I hit Ben in the back of the head twice. And then he dropped his head after the last three blows and I felt like I was completely drunk and out of breath and dizzy."
The victim, Perkins-link is on the ground, his friend who eventually called 911 ran off. Hewitt also leaves and goes home. During this part of the interview with police Hewitt arrives home and talks with his sister.
Hewitt: "I said Caleb, I did something bad. And she said ‘What?’ And I said I killed Ben.
And she says ‘What?’ I said I killed Ben."
Brown has her confession, but she wants to know why. But sometimes the answer doesn't make sense. Hewitt offers a motive to Brown.
Hewitt: “I just had it in my mind what would it be like to kill someone. I thought about it and I just did it."
Twelve years ago, detectives arrived to a mobile home in Salt Lake County.
Fifteen-year old Brookes Shumway is accused of stabbing his friend Christopher Ray more than 40 times during a sleepover.
“In this case we had many, many stab wounds,” recalls detective Todd Park. “And that doesn't show self defense.”
Detectives bring in Shumway to test their theory. And during the police interview Shumway describes the bloody scene.
Shumway: “I told him to put the knife down and he wouldn't so I tried to take it away from him.”
Detective: “Was he poking it at you, jabbing at you or anything?”
Shumway: "He was jabbing it at me."
Detective: “And you're struggling with him and the knife is flailing around and it stabs him. How many times would you say it stabs him?”
Shumway: “I think three or four.”
Detective: “Three or four. So, how many in the back?”
Shumway: “I think two in the back.”
Detective: “Two in the back and how about the front?”
Shumway: “Two in the chest and the fifth one was the throat one. He got on top of me and he slipped over and cut his throat.”
But detectives were having their doubts about how the stabbing happened.
“There were stab wounds in the head, stab wounds in the back, in the front, that's not someone trying to get away,” Park says. “That's somebody engaged in a rage.”
Shumway claims he stabbed Ray by accident. But police don't buy it.
“Things just weren't adding up,” says Park.
Eventually, Shumway is convicted of murdering his one time friend.
“One will never have any kind of life and the other will have a life behind bars,” Park says.
Confessions bring no satisfaction for detectives. That's because families of the victims are left wondering.
"I don't think the family was ever at peace for why it happened,” Brown says. “It was a very senseless murder.”
The case closes and detectives move on to the next crime pouring their heart and soul for the next family.
“I would be very upset with myself if there was something I could have done to get a case solved and it wasn't done,” Park says. “We want to do our very best for the victim's family.”
Investigating major crimes can even tug at the hearts of detectives. But Brown says detectives develop camaraderie. And any time a detective has personal problems handling a case they talk about it with each other.