Could Ibragim Todashev Have Made a False Confession?

This American Life takes a look at the evidence.

The staff at This American Life posted an in-depth blog post analyzing the Florida State Prosecutor’s report on the FBI killing of Ibragim Todashev in which they explore the possibility that Todashev’s confession to a 2011 triple murder in Waltham with bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev might be false.

This American Life collaborated with Boston magazine in their full-hour story “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” and Boston‘s March cover story “The Murders Before the Marathon.” In the post, the staff at This American Life compare the report to the radio story and answer some lingering questions about digital recordings of the interrogation and what evidence law enforcement had against Todashev before the fatal interview.

TAL also analyzes Boston‘s exclusive reporting on Todashev’s unredacted, partially written confession and an eyewitness account of the murder scene. The confession conflicts with what the eyewitness saw. TAL has reported extensively on false confessions, and in this blog post, experts on false confessions weigh in on the Todashev report.

Here’s an excerpt from the TAL post, but if you’ve been following this story, you should read the post in its entirety:

If it’s true that the victims’ hands weren’t taped or bound, why would Ibragim write that he’d taped them? If he did actually take part in the crime, it seems like a noteworthy detail to get wrong.

We called Jim Trainum, to get his take on it. Trainum is a former D.C. police detective who’s an expert on false confessions. (We did a story about Trainum and false confessions last fall.) Trainum does not have inside knowledge of Ibragim’s case. But he said that in general, in a reliable confession, when someone gives incorrect details it’s usually because they’re minimizing their role in the crime, not increasing it.

“For example,” he said, “a guy who kidnapped and murdered a child will admit to those but not to the sexual assault. However, if it were the opposite — if you had no sexual assault and the person admits sexual assault — then what’s going on there? Why increase their culpability?”

Trainum doesn’t have enough information on this particular case to determine if Ibragim’s confession was valid. But he said adding a detail like that can be a sign of a false confession. It’s odd that Ibragim would say he’d helped tape the murder victims’ hands if that didn’t actually happen

  • Seneca Wolf

    Of course it was a false confession. They wouldn’t give up on trying to
    pin him for these murders. He’d told his friend they were trying to set
    him up and now that friend isn’t allowed back into the US. They were
    pushing him for hours, most likely using deception by telling him they
    had evidence against him so they knew he was guilty- which was a lie.
    They most likely told him that he would go to prison because they had
    evidence, UNLESS he confessed to the crime and implicated Tamerlan as
    the mastermind behind the whole thing and then it that case he could get
    a much lesser sentence. He began to write it all down, clearly having
    no real knowledge of the crime scene, and then got frustrated with the
    whole thing. That’s when they killed him. Because his temper got hot, as
    they knew it would. And they killed him. And now they’re saying he was a
    murderer and so was Tamerlan Tsarnaev when there’s no real evidence
    that puts either of them at that crime scene.

  • Ralph Hornsby

    Duh…more like– Could FBI have written the whole dang thing in the first place?

    • jam

      I was thinking about the same thing. I believe they wrote it up and wanted Ibragim to write it in his own handwriting. Once ibragim realized what it was saying he did and to blame tamerlan as well he filled out and said he wasn’t going to write anymore. When trying to leave the FBI agent couldn’t let that happen afraid Ibrgaim would tell someone the truth they Murdered him before he could tell everyone what the FBI was doing. Ibragim knew to much and needed to be silence. Dead men can’t talk. The FBI agents are out of control. We should be afraid when we see them coming it can cost us our lives.. the sad part is how many innocent lives have been taken becuz of them.

      • Ralph Hornsby

        Everyone thinks this is another murder by our government. No matter who they get to write up the investigative reports. The Pope himself could write up a report and the public wouldn’t believe it. People everywhere are questioning the Waltham murders, the Boston bombing and Todashev’s death. The scary thing is wondering who our government will murder next.

      • furtive

        See post above. Cannot paste in this box.

  • Doomsday Diva

    Of course it’s a false confession. The local drug scene was permeated with corrupt cops and Mess and his friends were a big part of that scene. Given that this is an obvious false confession, the next question is…why?

  • barbara

    Since there is no video or text of the complete interrogation, how can we know what was said before or during the alleged “confession”? It is impossible. So convenient for the law enforcement, that it almost could have been arranged that way. Ibragim was not under arrest, he was in his own apartment with four armed men. Whether they want to say the alleged confession was not coerced, I think there’s a lot of doubt with that assumption.

  • alamo

    It’s possible that Mess’ Sudanese gf did not notice the taped hands? If I entered a room and saw people with their heads nearly decapitated and blood everywhere, I might not notice taped hands.

    I still don’t understand the random redactions and leaks. Why redact the cell phone texts early in the report but then include the same photo unredacted in the fuller supplements from Ashton’s office? Why the unredacted leak to you of the confession?

    Ashton also “prosecuted” Casey Anthony. Go figure. Either massive incompetence all around or gross corruption, DAs, FBI, MSP, JTTF, etc. Same as Christie. I can’t think of a prosecutor or former prosecutor I trust.

  • furtive

    Now why would the new defense lawyer on the block want a coerced confession by a young man who was hit in the face near his eye & then shot in the head, convinced that TAMERLAN murdered his buddy in Walth

  • furtive