12-year-old Stephanie Crowe was attacked with a knife and murdered in her bedroom while her family slept in Escondido, California on January 20, 1998. The coroner determined that Stephanie had died the night before at approximately 11 PM. She was found by her grandmother, Judith Kennedy, the next morning at 6:30 AM when she went in to wake Stephanie up. Police zeroed in on Stephanie’s 13-year-old brother Michael and two of his young teenage friends, Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser, though they had no reason to suspect them or any evidence of their guilt. So police grilled the boys relentlessly. Eventually they wore the boys down and got half confessions from them.
Maybe because they already had their man, 13-year-old Michael Crowe. He was singled out by Escondido police because the crime scene seemed "to suggest an inside job," and because he seemed "distant and preoccupied" after Stephanie's body was discovered and the rest of the family grieved. Obviously, Police never considered the possibility that Michael was in shock over the beating, knifing, attempted rape and murder of his sister. Maybe, if police had looked around, they would have realized that every member of Stephanie's family was in the same condition.
Michael told police that he had gone to get a Tylenol and something to drink from the kitchen for a headache early in the morning around 4:30 AM. Police noted that Michael had to walk by Stephanie's bedroom door on his way to the kitchen. Some police officers contended that Stephanie's bedroom door was wide open when they arrived, with her body lying on the floor just inside. They claimed Michael had to have seen her. Michael said he did not turn on any lights, he turned on the TV with sound muted, so he wouldn't bother his family; when he left his bedroom, he felt his way to the kitchen using only nightlights for navigation, so he had no idea whether Stephanie's door was open or shut. He took the Tylenol and returned to bed.
The police claim that Stephanie's door was open when they got there and said it proved Michael's guilt, this was contradicted by some officers, who, arriving at the beginning of the investigation, admitted that Stephanie's door was closed when they arrived, but neither mattered, Nana/Granny had to open Stephanie's door to discover that she had been murdered. The illogic of the police argument illustrates an investigation which went off track from the very beginning.
Police questioned all members of the Crowe family on the afternoon of January 21, 1998. They also forced Stephen, Cheryl, Michael and Shannon Crowe to strip, and photographed them naked or partially naked, ostensibly to look for scratches or other defensive marks. They didn't find any.
Michael and Shannon were taken from their parents and placed in the Polinsky Center for abused children. Then detectives took Michael away for questioning; Shannon was told her brother was "going on a field trip."
Police immediately targeted Michael, beginning a campaign of interrogating and bullying him relentlessly. Then they brought Joshua and Aaron into their web when they could find no objective evidence against Michael, then began interrogating all three teenage boys multiple times without their parents' knowledge or permission and without an attorney present. Courts have given police wide leave way to interview a child alone after that child reaches 13-years-old. During these interrogations, police falsely informed Michael that they had found physical evidence implicating him, later the police told all three boys that they were implicated by physical evidence found at the crime scene, a lie, and that each boy had all failed an examination with a so-called "truth verification" device, a voice stress analyzer, another lie.
Police then told Michael, Joshua and Aaron that their parents were convinced that they were GUILTY, that the boys had attempted to rape and had murdered Stephanie Crowe. Police told lie after lie. They then told the boys that their parents wrote them off and hoped that they each got a sentence of life in prison. The police told the boys that they had no one, that the police were the only friends that they had at this point. With friends like that...
After an intense 6-hour interrogation, Michael gave a vague "confession" to killing his sister, providing no details and ending the session by saying that he couldn't remember doing it. The interview was videotaped by police; at times Michael is heard crying and screaming, protesting his innocence, then saying, "I'm only saying this because it's what you want to hear." Police arrested and charged Michael, Joshua and Aaron with murdering 12-year-old Stephanie.
Treadway endured two interrogations that lasted a total of more than 20 hours -- including one that lasted all night. The videotapes show that police relentlessly questioned Treadway, 15 at the time, and refused to accept his spontaneous statements that he wasn't involved in the murder. By the end of 20 hours of questioning, Joshua Treadway told police he served as the lookout while Crowe and Houser, then 15, stabbed Stephanie.
Treadway told the jury which was trying Richard Tuite, "I would have chewed off my own leg" or said anything they wanted me to, to put an end to these vicious, relentless inquisitions by police. Below Joshua Treadway testifying at Tuite's trial.
Police never found a 5"-6" bladed knife, which matched Stephanie's wounds in the Crowe home. Police did claim to have found a knife which was consistent with Stephanie's wounds at Joshua Treadway's house, Michael Crowe's best friend. Only one problem, the police clamed the knife was in "plain sight" on a sofa. regardless, no human blood was ever found on this knife, even after extensive testing. No human blood of any type was ever found on any of the boys' clothes and none of the boys' clothes were unaccounted for. None of the boys showed defensive wounds of any type anywhere on their hands, arms or bodies even though there was evidence that Stephanie had violently struggled with her attacker. Each boy had been strip searched by police. None of the boys' semen or sperm was found anywhere in Stephanie's room. Every time and everywhere the police looked for actual evidence against the boys, the police come up empty. But that didn't stop them, because they "knew" dangerous schizophrenic Richard Tuite was innocent and Michael, Joshua and Aaron were guilty, with or without evidence.
As the boys' trial neared, the judge ruled at a preliminary hearing that Michael's confession was coerced through psychological abuse, two of the boys' confessions were redundant and struck them on that grounds, Houser's statements to police were suppressed because police did not sufficiently advise him of his Miranda rights. The Judge then ruled Joshua Treadway's first confession inadmissible on other grounds. The second Treadway confession remained admissible. This is the "confession," after 20 hours of interrogation by police in which Joshua said he had been a lookout. Never once did the judge consider the abuse the boys suffered while in police custody worthy of consideration for dismissal of all charges, at all.
Michael and his two friends were arrested, thrown in juvenile prison and finally, after months in jail, San Diego county began the process of putting the boys on trial, at which point, to pre-empt the defense claim that Richard Tuite was Stephanie's rapist/murderer, police finally tested Richard Tuite’s clothes seized on the night of Stephanie's murder. The police crime lab said there was NO blood on the red sweatshirt, nothing. Look at the sweatshirt and you can see Stephanie's BLOOD. They are either grossly incompetent or are Blue Wall LIARS!
But at the insistence of Treadway’s relentless criminal-defense attorney, Mary Ellen Attridge, the shirt was sent months later to a highly respected DNA lab in the Bay Area. There it was discovered that several drops of Stephanie’s blood, an extremely rare type, were among the many stains on Tuite’s shirt.
One has to ask, were the San Diego County Police Crime Lab results FRAUDULENT? Blue Wall Police Lab Protecting One of their own?
That was enough for the case against the boys to be dismissed at a second hearing. The boys had spent 8 months of their young lives in prison for a crime the did NOT commit.
The best possible theory is the DA and Police were doing CYA, better to convict an innocent boy and his two friends than to admit they had been wrong from the very beginning. Police and the DA would later leak the story that they suspected Stephanie's blood on Tuite's shirt was from contamination, though they never could explain how that was possible. The shirt had been in police custody since the day Stephanie's body was discovered. And thanks to their lies, the murderer was going to walk away free, once police and the DA gave him the contamination cover story.
To understand this phenomenon, see my page on Peter Reilly who was coerced into a false confession for murdering his mom. A very good movie, A Death in Canaan (1978), starring Paul Clemens, Conchata Farrell, Brian Dennehy and Stephanie Powers was made based on Joan Barthel's book. In Peter Reilly's case, a lie detector administrator falsely told the boy that his exam showed Peter LIED AND WAS 100% GUILTY OF THE CRIME. It didn't. Later examiners looked at the same exam print out and said it absolutely did NOT show Peter's guilt or that Peter was lying. The police and lie detector examiner used this false testimony to intimidate the innocent teenager/orphan to confess to the murder of his Mom. Peter was all alone and had no one to turn to for advice, he had been in police custody for over 24 hours and relentlessly questioned and bullied by the officers. The same phenomenon, Peter and Michael both said they had NO memory of doing the crime of which they were accused, but believed police when they told the boys they had absolute proof of the boys guilt.
Steven later told police that he looked back, from approximately the point of view of this photo towards the crossroads, where the street sign and road to the right is today. He said he saw Lynne getting into a gray car. He believed she was getting a lift from a man in a new model Gray Chevrolet with an orange/yellow car license tag or sticker on it. The Air Marshal Hugh Campbell Royal Canadian Clinton base used yellow sticker/tags on military personnel vehicles to identify military personnel who worked there.
Steven Truscott's middle class home at 2 Quebec Road in Clinton, now called Vanastra, after the Royal Canadian Air Force Base was shut down in 1971. Neighbors liked the Truscott family and considered them good people. Many of them were perplexed by the charges against Steven which they never believed.
A girl friend of Lynne's reported that Steven had asked where Lynne was immediately before she left the school playground. Steven explained that he had promised to give Lynne a ride to a crossroad near her friend's horse farm on his bike handlebars, otherwise she would have had to walk the whole way, about a 30 to 40 minute walk. It has been argued that the police and prosecutors coached this 13-year-old girl to give a statement an ominous connotation to cinch their case against Steven. She also implied that Steven had been trying to have an assignation with her and had even stopped by her home the day Lynne disappeared trying to get her to go off with him. One huge problem, in a very long interview with police lasting over an hour, with multiple pages of police notes, before Lynne's body had been found, this girl makes no mention of either of these stories. These stories came later as prosecutors were building a case against Steven.
Author Isabel LeBourdais with Stephen after his release from prison in 1969, at the age of 24, Steven had spent almost 10 years of his life in prison. One half of his life had been stolen from him. If you wonder why I wrote this page on my blog, Steven's innocence was attacked in a recent book which supported the original police conclusions, conveniently ignoring the issues, which I and others have raised.
Remember, the mayor of Amity, promised that the shark in Jaws was dead, so everyone could relax and go back to the beach. He lied and more people died. And if you remember, the county coroner helped him out saying that the first attack, saying the girl had been hit by a boats propeller. Matt Hooper/Richard Dreyfuss said that was a lie and the coroner was a liar. The coroners was a politician, not a public servant. The tourist industry came first.
Another boy Douggie Oates saw Lynne and Steven on this bridge within a hundred yards of the cross road where Steven dropped Lynne off. Police and prosecutors REFUSED to take this boy's testimony seriously as well.
An ambulance is seen loading Lynne's body, to give you an idea of the dense forest which hid her body for two days. The first photo was taken from the main street leading to Lynne and Steven's homes and the Air Force Base. Even an adult would have trouble carrying a struggling child or dead body this far without a car/truck. Even using the prosecutors assignation theory, less than 5 to 10 minutes from that timeline can be allowed for Lynne's rape/murder. The inescapable conclusion is that this theory is only possible if Steven had planned to rape and murder Lynne all along. It does not account for the kids would have had to tramp a 100 yards into the woods and underbrush, which makes an impossible timeline into a ridiculously impossible timeline. All predicated on Lynne spontaneously asking Steven for a lift, which he had occasionally done before.
Lt. Columbo said in an episode, when I've completed an investigation, experience has taught me not to believe in coincidences when it comes to murder.
Elijah McClain was a gentle black young man who went to the 7/11 in Aurora Colorado for a bottle of ice tea on August 24, 2019 . While walking back to his apartment at 10:23 PM, police stopped him because he was wearing a hoodie and ski mask in the breezy 66 degree weather. Concert Violinist and massage therapist Elijah explained he was severely anemic and got cold easily. After explaining this to the officers, the situation immediately escalated, even though they had NO EVIDENCE of a crime. Police ignored his pleas. Police would later say Elijah was uncooperative, which caused them to wrestle him to the ground and beat him. Elijah appeared to be having a seizure, so police called paramedics. Police demanded the paramedics give Elijah the powerful sedative/anesthesia Ketamine, which is more famous as a DATE RAPE DRUG. The Paramedics at first refused, at which point the police officers on scene threatened to arrest them or get them fired if they didn't follow their order. So the paramedics administered Ketamine. The drug caused Elijah to have a heart attack, he died three days later. The officers involved made a video of the incident, during which they laughed and smiled.