On December 14, 1955, Darrel Parker arrived at his Lincoln, Nebraska, home to find his wife, Nancy, strangled to death. Although their house was broken into less than a month earlier, the police were unable to find any leads, so their attention turned to Parker. To make their case, the authorities relied on a private interrogation by polygraph operator John Reid of Chicago. Reid’s company, founded in 1947, today provides interviewing and interrogation techniques that the company claims are the most widely used in the world.
Barbarous Souls tells the story of Darrel Parker’s wrongful conviction for Nancy’s murder. Lincoln native David Strauss weaves a shocking true crime story with an exposé of still-prevalent methods of interrogation—methods that often lead to false confessions and the conviction of innocent suspects. After he was convicted, Parker served thirteen years of a life sentence before agreeing to a deal that would free him but not clear his record. It was later discovered that a murderer who died in prison in 1988 had taped a confession to the crime.
A roller-coaster ride in the tradition of John Grisham’s The Innocent Man, Barbarous Souls is a thorough examination of a wrongful conviction based on a false confession, and an illuminating portrayal of a widespread phenomenon that still plagues the justice system.