507 this american lifeOK, it’s getting good again. The politics and the complexities of the American economy have been tabled. At least for episode 507 of This American Life. The topic: confessions.

But these are not  run-of-mill,  hand in the cookie jar, confessions. These are the big ones. We’re talking murder here.

In the intro, Father Thomas Santa describes condition called scrupulosity — a psychological disorder wherein moral questions can bring on guilt so intense a sufferer’s life can grind to halt.

Then we get into the murder: we hear a DC detective actually confess that he forced a false confession from a young mother twenty years ago. It was a sad story about a woman’s life ruined by an overzealous, overtired detective. Tragic, but engaging.

The last act tells the story of Jeffrey Womack, a man who spent a large portion of life as suspect number one in one of  Tennessee’s most notorious crimes. He was arrested and jailed, but he never confessed. Why did he never confess? Because he refused to talk. He didin’t say a work as everyone called him a child killer. Later the real murderer was identified through DNA analysis. Here’s a little snippet from his memoir:


Sure, the police were vilified in this episode a bit, but there were genuinely interesting stories being told. Definitely a must listen.