False memories led to guilt admissions in 1989 Nebraska murder

June 2017

In 1989, a Nebraska woman was murdered. Six people were accused; five took pleas and, over the course of suggestive interrogations, came to believe they were guilty. Two generated memories of the crime that embedded so deep they could be vividly recalled decades later.

But none of the six accused were responsible. It was the largest DNA exoneration involving false memory in U.S. judicial history.

The case demonstrates the malleability of memory. "Memory is born anew every day," Elizabeth Loftus, distinguished professor of social ecology, told The New Yorker.

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