A Son's Confession | 2000
In 1973, 51-year-old Barbara Gibbons of Falls Village, Connecticut, was killed in a brutal attack in her home. She suffered stab wounds and broken bones. She was also sexually mutilated. Police immediately focused their investigation on the victim's 18-year-old son Peter Reilly.
Peter told police he came home and discovered his mother lying on the bedroom floor in a pool of blood. At police headquarters, alone and without legal counsel, Reilly was detained and interrogated for over 25 hours. He eventually succumbed to exhaustion, hunger, confusion and grief, and confessed to the gruesome murder. Friends and neighbors rushed to Reilly's side despite his confession, refusing to believe he was guilty. They raised money for his defense, but to no avail. Peter was found guilty and sentenced to 6 to 16 years. The community was outraged. Playwright Arthur Miller alerted the national press and assembled a new defense team.
Before a new trial could begin, the prosecutor died. His replacement discovered evidence that led the state to drop its case against Reilly. The case has had a poisonous impact on Connecticut law enforcement for more than a quarter century. Today, new controversy surrounds the case, as Reilly calls for DNA-testing of old evidence that may once and for all clear his name and move police to resume the investigation.