Forensic Files – The Buddhist Monk Murders


NARRATOR: Late one August night in 1991, gunmen entered this Buddhist temple, and murdered everyone inside. ROMLEY: It was horrific. KIMBALL: It was just surreal and very, very silent. NARRATOR: It was the worst mass murder in Arizona history. The murders were carried out with military-type
precision. There was no clear explanation as to why someone
would murder the monks – who were unarmed, had no known enemies, and shunned all types
of violence. The Ku Klux Klan, the Bloods street gang,
and even some temple members were suspects. The investigation had more twists, turns and
surprises than most others. And some of the techniques used by local law
enforcement drew criticism. LEO: It was their ignorance, combined with their
overzealousness in this case that surprised me. WHITING: It was a story of international proportions. It was a zoo. It was just a zoo. NARRATOR: On the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona, a group of Thai Buddhist monks built a treelined oasis. A place where they could quietly practice
their religious beliefs. The temple, called Wat Promkunaram, was not
particularly well-known to Phoenix residents. ROMLEY: It was very modest, but the people
were very dedicated, and they were good people, very kind, good people, that were good citizens
here in Maricopa County. NARRATOR: Dressed in their traditional orange robes,
the small community of monks kept to themselves, tended to their gardens, and their animals. WHITING: These are very docile, very quiet,
very peace-loving people, and they’re not out making big waves in the community. KIMBALL: These were the type of people that
– as one story goes from the temple – that these monks wouldn’t even swat flies, when
they were stinging them. NARRATOR: Their worship services were open to the public, attended mostly by Buddhists of Thai ancestry who lived in the area. WHITING: It was a place not only of religious
worship, but also cultural as well. It’s a gathering point for the Thai community
here in Phoenix. NARRATOR: It was a custom for the members of the community to donate food to the monks. On Saturday morning, August 10th, a temple
member was dropping off some food, when she noticed some blood on the door. Inside, in the living room, she found the
monks, lying on the floor, as if sleeping. But they weren’t sleeping at all. All nine residents of the temple were dead. It appeared the victims had been herded into
the living room, placed in a circle, ordered to clasp their hands behind their heads, and were then shot, execution style, one by one. Six of the victims were Buddhist monks. One was a sixteen-year-old monk in training. Another was a temple helper. The ninth victim was a 71-year-old Buddhist nun. It was the worst mass murder in Arizona history. Russ Kimball supervised the sixty-six person
task force assigned to investigate the murders. KIMBALL: It looked very similar to what you
would see of the mass assassinations in Vietnam, actually – with the people face down, their
hands clasped behind their heads. It was just surreal, and very, very silent. NARRATOR: Investigators videotaped and photographed the crime scene carefully. On the floor were shell casings from two different
weapons. One was from a .22-caliber firearm. The other, a 20-gauge shotgun. Bedrooms had been ransacked, and some electronic
components were missing. But other valuables were left behind. A money tree was in plain view, with cash
attached, and a nearby safe was untouched. Crime scene technicians meticulously dusted
the walls, windows and furniture for fingerprints, and found over 1,000 prints. But all were matched to either residents of
the temple, or employees and volunteers. On the walls were smudge prints. Tests revealed the marks were made with cloth
gloves, which showed experience and premeditation. ROMLEY: They leave so little evidence there,
it definitely shows that this was a well-planned, very calculated crime that was to occur. NARRATOR: On the hallway floor was fire extinguisher
residue, and clear footwear impressions. They did not belong to the monks, since their
religion prohibits shoes in the temple. Lifting the impressions was done with an electrostatic
charge, and a sheet of Mylar. SERPA: You place one electrode alongside the
other electrode, and you touch the metalized surface of the
Mylar film, and the static charge draws the Mylar down
against the surface, and again static electricity collects all
that dust, and you can then see a reverse image of the
print that you saw on the linoleum. NARRATOR: The impressions were from a military-style
boot, with soles designed for use in the snow. Near the bodies, carved into the wall with
a knife – in letters two and a half feet high – was a message from the killer. It was the word ‘Bloods’, the name of a well-known
street gang. ROMLEY: It immediately made us begin to speculate
that maybe this was a gang murder in some way. Motive wasn’t able to be determined at that
time. NARRATOR: A few miles away, spraypainted on a watertower, was “the Phoenix group strikes again”. It was a group police had never heard of, and it was unclear whether the message was related to the murders. Since most of the victims were Asian, some
speculated it was a hate crime. A Thai newspaper reported that one of the
murdered monks told his superiors a month earlier, that they had recieved threats from the Ku Klux Klan –
a white supremacist group. He also told his superiors that he had clashed
with another monk, who had since left the area. Thailand’s U.S. ambassador flew to Phoenix,
looking for answers. He was also fearful that the monks would close
the temple. “A temple without monks would be no longer
a temple. So the monks informed me that they determined
to restaff the temple.” NARRATOR: Politicians pressured local law enforcement
to solve the crime, and to do it quickly. SYMINGTON: “We need to get to the bottom of
it in a hurry. It’s just a horrible crime, and it’s just
the – it’s the kind of thing that is so shocking, that you just – you don’t know…I’m at a loss
for words, frankly.” NARRATOR: The government of Thailand officially asked
the United States to use all means possible to find the perpetrators. Even the F.B.I. got involved. Since Luke Airforce Base is located near the temple, it is often photographed by intelligence gathering satellites. Sheriffs hoped that a surveillance satellite
may have photographed the getaway vehicle. Satellite photography is so advanced, that
it was possible a photograph from space could show the make and model of any vehicles
in the vicinity. But there were no satellites taking surveillance
photographs at the time of the murders. Brett Whiting is a reporter for the Arizona
Republic newspaper. WHITING: At this time, Russian technology
was being made available and backwater inquires were made to determine if the Russians had
spy satellite photos that would be useful. However, it was determined that the Russians
were not taking photos that evening with their satellite. NARRATOR: Deputies set up a tip line, and soon, with
the international publicity, came hundreds of outside calls. One caller, an expert in Asian gang activity,
said that the murders were most likely gang-related, and believed he knew the motive. KIMBALL: He instructed us that they’d had
a lot of home invasion style robberies, and that we should consider the fact that a lot
of the Thai Buddhists were smuggling gold into the country. NARRATOR: But there was no evidence this was the case here. Investigators also found a note on the temple’s
dining room table. KIMBALL: The note read something to the effect of “Already weighed ten eighty-three pounds”, or 1,083 pounds. In July of that year, there was 1,080 pounds of heroin on a barge – I believe – in Oakland Harbor, that was followed to a warehouse and never picked up. NARRATOR: But further investigation revealed the true meaning of this notation. WHITING: The number correlated with the number of aluminum cans that had been gathered by people at the temple in some type of fundraising venture, and that was a lead that fizzled as well. NARRATOR: Also found in the temple were several Buddhist statues lined up in one of the monk’s bedrooms. KIMBALL: Before the murders, an Asian was caught – I believe by the Canadian authorities – bringing into the country a statue of Buddha that was filled with heroin. NARRATOR: Drug-sniffing dogs searched the temple. KIMBALL: And one of the dogs had a positive reaction, inside the main sanctuary, in an area of the carpet, in front of where the monks sat during their ceremonies. And then, the dog had a hit in a file cabinet in one of the bedrooms or the office, I believe. The second dog was brought in, and reacted in the same two places. We cut up the carpet, we looked everywhere, did not find any sign of narcotics, at all. NARRATOR: Several sex magazines were in the bottom drawer of one of the monk’s bedrooms. This prompted investigators to question employees and temple members, suspecting that jealousy, or an angry spouse may have been the cause. KIMBALL: Even though these were holy men, they were human beings, and they were men. We had wondered – it crossed our mind if somebody had been having an affair with one of the parishioners. NARRATOR: In a search for suspects, police videotaped the funeral service held at the temple. Sometimes, killers will revisit the crime scene to relive the experience. But it turned up nothing. The F.B.I.’s Behavioral Science Unit released a psychological profile of the lead killer – predicting the person was extremely unstable, ruthless, and depraved. The profile wasn’t news to many in Phoenix. After following up on hundreds of leads, a telephone call provided the first real break in the case. It was from a mental patient who seemed to know intimate details of the crime. NARRATOR: After the nine execution-style murders in a Buddhist temple in Phoenix, Arizona, the Buddhist community, in keeping with their beliefs, mourned their loss, but also, prepared to be united again. MONK: “To me, sad. It’s natural.” “But this is for the end of your life. You die here, but as long as you have your desire to be, then you will continue.” NARRATOR: Carved in a wall inside the temple, near the bodies, was the name of a well known street gang – Bloods. Police wanted to keep this detail of the crime scene secret from the public. So they literally cut that section out of the wall, put it in a crate, and shipped it to the crime lab. For the most part, the crime scene revealed that these murders were carefully planned, and expertly executed. But there were a few indications that the perpetrators might be juveniles. A fire extinguisher was discharged in the hallway for no apparent reason. Many of the rooms were ransacked, and a soda had been poured into the monk’s computer, all signs of juvenile criminal behavior. One month after the murders, investigators got their first real break. Mike McGraw, a mental patient from a psychiatric hospital 120 miles away, called police to say he could lead them to the killers. McGraw admitted that he had been the lookout man, and had driven the getaway vehicle on the night of the murders, and said he was outside the temple when the crime took place. He said the motive was robbery, not murder. McGraw said he heard several shots before the shooters ran out of the temple, and took off. At first, police were skeptical. But McGraw knew an important detail about the crime – a fact that had been withheld from the public. KIMBALL: He said the word ‘Bloods’ was carved in the wall. And that was significant because the word ‘Bloods’ had been carved in the wall, and been protected, crated and hauled out of the temple. So nobobdy knew except the investigators who were inside the temple. NARRATOR: Detectives weren’t troubled by the fact that McGraw was a mental patient, recently hospitalized after a suicide attempt. ROMLEY: Mike McGraw said that there was a good reason why he was in that mental institution, and that was because he said that he had so much guilt from the horrific crime, and so. KIMBALL: So I was positive, absolutely positive that we had at least one of the suspects. NARRATOR: And McGraw gave police the names of his four accomplices: One was his cousin, Mark Nunez. The others were Leo Bruce, Victor Zarate, and Dante Parker. Dante Parker was the only one with a prior criminal record, with arrests and convictions for theft and burglary. All were living in Tuscon. WHITING: Immediately, SWAT teams wearing masks conducted full-scale raids and operations to take these boys into custody. LEO: Police drove maniacally from Phoenix to Tuscon, busted down doors, threw these people on the floor without explanation, late at night, handcuffed them, threw them back in the car, and hauled them down to the police station to interrogate them. NARRATOR: Just to make sure, police asked Mike McGraw to pick these suspects out of a lineup, which he did. During Dante Parker’s interrogation, he insisted he had never met the other suspects, had never before been in Phoenix, and said he was innocent. SLONAKER: He denied any involvement over the first fourteen hours. The investigators and interrogators had given Dante bits and pieces of the story that they knew, namely, how the monks had been shot. NARRATOR: Experts call this ‘contaminating the witness’, and that means anything the witness says afterwards is suspect. LEO: Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a circumstance in which it would be appropriate, because it contaminates the suspect and it means that if they are innocent and made the false confession, you’ll never know. NARRATOR: Parker held to his story throughout the first interrogation. Leo Bruce, a distant friend of Mike McGraw’s, also denied any involvement. RAKE: And the interrogation went on for many, many, many hours. NARRATOR: Mark Nunez and Victor Zarate both maintained their innocence as well. RAKE: They never had any evidence that could remotely tie the Tuscon defendants to this murder. They didn’t have one, single, little bitty thread of evidence. Not then, not now, not ever. NARRATOR: The only thing that tied them to the crime was Mike McGraw’s confession. In an effort to gather more evidence, Bill Morris of the State Police crime lab examined the .22 caliber shell casings found at the murder scene. He immediately recognized the murder weapon. MORRIS: It narrowed it down to rifles that were made by the Marlin Firearms company, under the name of under the name of Marlin, Glennfield, and a couple of others. The problem is, there are a lot of Marlins in existence. NARRATOR: And some unusual marks on the casings helped to identify the model. MORRIS: We noticed that there was a bulge around the firing pin, that was put there as a manufacturing process, and it is only found on semi-automatic firearms. NARRATOR: The Marlin company had only been manufacturing those rifles for three years, which meant the murder weapon was relatively new. So detectives searched every pawn shop and used gun store in the area, confiscating all Marlin .22 caliber semi-automatic rifles made in the last three years. KIMBALL: We knew that we were gonna find that weapon, and the way to find it was seize every one we could find. NARRATOR: Hundreds were seized and test fired, but none matched the murder weapon. With no hard evidence against the suspects, investigators decided to interrogate them once more. All had been identified by Mike McGraw, the mental patient from Tuscon, who said he was the lookout man and driver of the getaway car. RAKE: When I say he was mentally ill and mentally disturbed, he was mentally ill and mentally disturbed. McGraw would’ve confessed to the Holocaust. NARRATOR: The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department was convinced that they had solved the mystery of the Buddhist monk massacre – the worst mass murder in Arizona history. Mike McGraw was the first to turn himself in, admitting he had driven the getaway vehicle at the murders. McGraw identified his accomplices: Dante Parker, Mark Nunez, Victor Zarate, and Leo Bruce. Initially, all four men denied any involvement. They were interviewed a second time, and interrogators turned up the heat. INVESTIGATOR: Who shot him? Dante, who shot him? NARRATOR: Dante Parker was the first one to crack. SLONAKER: He was told that he should try to get on board as soon as he could so that he could get the best deal possible for his cooperation, and not wait to be the last guy who helped the police out. NARRATOR: Parker, who was interrogated for hours without sleep, eventually confessed. PARKER: First shot hit the old lady, she was on the ground. NARRATOR: Parker said he witnessed the murder of the 71-year-old Buddhist nun, and said she was face up on the floor when shot. INVESTIGATOR: Sideways? PARKER: Face up. NARRATOR: He also claimed the word ‘Bloods’ was written on the wall in the victims’ blood. The next day, Mark Nunez also confessed. NUNEZ: Alright. I was there. RAKE: They interrogated him for hours. Nunez was certainly a kind of a momma’s boy, y’know, was in tears most of the time. Absolutely terrified. NUNEZ: I was one of the killers. NARRATOR: After that, it was Leo Bruce’s turn. He had been kept awake for 33 straight hours. He too confessed. RAKE: The sheriff’s department had convinced him that the only way he could avoid the gas chamber was to confess, and that if he would confess, that the sheriff’s department would assist him in staying out of the gas chamber. BRUCE: I pull the trigger. I kill all nine people. NARRATOR: Police now had four men who confessed to the Buddhist monk massacre. ZARATE: I had nothing to do with this. I have no idea… NARRATOR: The last man identified by Mike McGraw as an accomplice, Victor Zarate, refused to confess. In the bedroom of Zarate’s home, police found this jade Buddha figurine. A temple member identified it as belonging to Pirak Kentan, one of the monks killed in the massacre. Victor Zarate not only denied he was involved, but said he had an alibi for the night of the murder. He was working at a racetrack that night, and a security camera videotape proved it. Later, the temple member who said she saw this figurine in the temple, admitted she was mistaken. RAKE: As it turned out, they had the wrong figurine, the wrong religion. They couldn’t even get that right. NARRATOR: So Victor Zarate was set free. The other men who confessed became known as the ‘Tuscon Four’. ROMLEY: At the time, it was clear that they stated that they were involved with those particular murders. NARRATOR: Mike McGraw said the shooters’ bloody clothes were discarded along Interstate 10, as they drove back to Tuscon. Sheriff’s deputies searched all 100 miles of the highway, using helicopters, horses, and all-terrain vehicles. But they never found the bloody clothes. And deputies still didn’t have the .22 caliber Marlin rifle used in the murders, so they asked each of the suspects about guns they owned. Leo Bruce, who previously admitted being the triggerman, said the magic words. RAKE: As he’s sitting there, he’s asked whether or not he owns a .22 Marlin rifle, and he says, “Yes I do”, and they say, “Well, that’s what was used to murder these nine individuals.” NARRATOR: His rifle was taken to the forensics lab for analysis. MORRIS: We know from experimentation, we know from our research that no two guns will leave the same identical markings on bullets and cartridge cases. NARRATOR: As a bullet travels through the barrel of the gun, it is marked by the various lands and grooves inside of the barrel. And every bullet fired from that gun will be marked in the same way. Morris test fired Bruce’s Marlin, and compared the lands and grooves from that bullet to those removed from the murder victims. In a major step backwards for the prosecution, the ballistic test showed conclusively that Leo Bruce’s gun was not the murder weapon. Since they needed some physical evidence against the confessed killers, they turned their attention to the footwear impressions found at the crime scene. Several dozen pairs of shoes and boots belonging to the Tuscon Four were seized by sheriff’s deputies and sent to the forensics lab for analysis. James Serpa photographed, then compared the soles of the suspects’ shoes to the crime scene photographs. SERPA: I was able to exclude all of those shoes as having produced any of the impressions that were found in or around the temple. NARRATOR: The suspects’ shoes did not match, and Leo Bruce’s gun didn’t match. And investigators were in for another surprise. Two of the four men who confessed recanted their confessions. And these two men made charges of their own, about what happened to them inside the interrogation room at the time of their confessions. NARRATOR: Investigators were shocked to learn that the rifle owned by confessed killer Leo Bruce was not the murder weapon. Investigators had no choice but to take a second look at the confessions. Was it possible, that in their initial excitement over these confessions, members of the sheriff’s department overlooked an obvious problem? Much of the information in the confessions was inaccurate. For example, Mike McGraw, the mental patient, incorrectly identified the types of guns used. RAKE: He had the murder weapons being Glocks and 9-millimeters, and shotguns and assault rifles, and deer rifles, all kinds of weapons that were not actually used in this horrible crime. INVESTIGATOR: Was she face up or face down? NARRATOR: Dante Parker said the Buddhist nun was lying face up on the floor. But she was lying face down. He said the word ‘Bloods’ was written on the wall in the victims’ blood. That too, was incorrect. And he said several monks chased him outside after the murders. SLONAKER: Dante mentioned that he saw all these bloody monks running out the door toward the parking lot, toward him, where he was, and of course investigators knew that couldn’t be true, because they had all been killed inside the building. NARRATOR: Parker also alleged that investigators threatened to arrest his foster brother if he did not confess. Soon, even the press was questioning whether the sheriff’s department had rushed to judgement. Prosecutor Rick Romley decided to take an independent look at the confessions, and spent a full week reading the transcripts of each one. ROMLEY: I just shut my door, read them at home, read them at work, and I read everything. And it didn’t add up. Stories were different, didn’t corroborate one another. NARRATOR: As Romley contemplated whether to go forward with the case against the Tuscon Four, forensic analysts were testing yet another rifle police had confiscated. Six weeks earlier, an alert military policeman on the Luke Air Force Base, Sgt. John Torito, stopped a car for a routine traffic violation. Inside the car, Torito noticed a rifle in the backseat. Sgt. Torito, aware that police were looking for the weapon used in the temple murders, confiscated the rifle and turned it over to the sheriff’s department, where it was placed behind an office door, and forgotten, until someone remembered it, six weeks later. It was a .22 caliber Marlin, like the one used in the Buddhist murders. Bill Morris performed the ballistics examination. The bullets from the confiscated rifle matched those found at the temple. 17-year-old Rolando Caratachea was driving the vehicle in which the rifle was discovered, and was immediately questioned by the sheriff’s department. Instead of implicating the Tuscon Four, Caratachea told investigators a completely different story. Caratachea insisted he had nothing to do with the murders, and said he didn’t know any members of the Tuscon Four. He did say that a few months earlier, he loaned his rifle to two 17-year-old high school students: Johnathan Doody, and Alex Garcia. WHITING: Suddenly, the case took a 180 degree turn. NARRATOR: The next step was to find out where Doody and Garcia were on the night of the murders. NARRATOR: The owner of the weapon used in the murder of nine Buddhist monks, Rolando Caratachea, was questioned by the sheriff’s department as a possible suspect. OFFICER: So you loaned your gun to them?
CARATACHEA: That’s all I did. OFFICER: Okay.
CARATACHEA: I just loaned it to ’em. NARRATOR: He said he had nothing to do with the crime, but implicated two high school students, Johnathan Doody, and Alex Garcia, saying he loaned them his rifle around the time of the murders. Doody’s father had been stationed at Luke Air Force Base, but when he was transferred, his son Johnathan stayed behind to finish high school, living with his friend Alex Garcia. WHITING: Doody and Garcia, as it turns out, were two seventeen-year-olds enrolled at Agua Frea High School, in Avondale, Arizona. Which is not too far from Luke Air Force Base. They were enrolled in the Air Force ROTC program, and aspired to have military careers. NARRATOR: Johnathan Doody was born in Thailand, and had ties to the Wat Promkunaram temple. His mother was – at one time – an active member, and his brother had also been employed there. Detectives searched Alex Garcia’s bedroom, and found boxes of ammunition, military camouflage gear, stereos, and cameras from the temple. And a pair of military-style boots, which were sent to the forensics lab for analysis. There, criminalists analyzed the pattern on the soles. SERPA: I took the out sole, and I applied a light dusting of black fingerprint powder, and then I lifted it with clear, adhesive, acetate film, and then deposited that film onto a clear acetate cover sheet. That allowed me to do an overlay comparison directly onto the impressions that were documented at the crime scene. NARRATOR: After careful analysis, James Serpa discovered six accidental characteristics on the suspect’s boots. These are tiny flaws made either in the manufacturing process, or through wear. The six accidental characteristics in the suspect’s shoes were identical to the accidental characteristics in the footwear impressions found at the murder scene. In Garcia’s home, police also found a Steven shotgun. MORRIS: Firing pin impression in this case gets stamped into the head of the primer of the shot shell, and it’s a very distinctive marking, and it’s different from all shotguns. All other shotguns. NARRATOR: The shotgun matched the casings found at the crime scene. When investigators confronted Alex Garcia and Jonathan Doody with this evidence, both confessed to the Buddhist monk murders. Alex Garcia confirmed what many already suspected – that he and Doody acted alone, and that the Tuscon Four were innocent. WHITING: The attack on the temple was part of a war games exercise that had been hatched by Doody and Garcia, to see if they could compromise the security at the temple, commit a robbery and make a clean getaway. NARRATOR: Doody said they chose the temple because of rumors of gold and riches. KIMBALL: There were stories about some safe, and there was, in fact, a large safe in the dining room. But the stories about all the wealth, and jewellry and gold, that the Buddhists had in their temple, which they didn’t have. But to these kids, it was something worth going after. NARRATOR: Garcia told investigators that on August 9th, as night fell over the temple, he and Doody put on battle dress uniforms, snowboots, scarves, and glasses to hide their faces. He said the motive was robbery. They forced the monks into the living room, ordered them onto their knees, and told them to put their hands behind their heads. Then, Doody panicked. He was afraid one of the monks might recognize him, since his brother had once worked there. And they both started shooting. [GUNSHOT] [GUNSHOT] [GUNSHOT]
[GUNSHOT] [GUNSHOT] [GUNSHOT] [GUNSHOT] [GUNSHOT] [GUNSHOT] GARCIA: “They didn’t try to get up, they didn’t try to run.” “I’m not sure if they all knew what was actually going on.” NARRATOR: After the murders, the two stole $2,600 in cash, and some stereo and camera equipment. Garcia also cleared up another mystery. KIMBALL: He had carved the word ‘Bloods’ in the wall, as an afterthought to throw us off. The red herring, the proverbial red herring. NARRATOR: Some members of the sheriff’s department still believed that the Tuscon Four were somehow involved in these murders. ROMLEY: They said, ‘Rick, just leave ’em in jail. We’ll get the evidence’. And that’s when I broke a little bit, and I slammed my hand on the table. And I said, ‘That’s not what we’re about.’ We, in America, don’t keep people in jail hoping to get evidence. NEWS REPORTER: “19-year-old Mark Nunez was the first of the four ex-suspects to emerge following the dismissal of charges this morning.” NARRATOR: Three months after the murders, the Tuscon Four were freed. All charges against them were dropped. But why would four men confess to a crime they didn’t commit, especially when facing the possibility of the death penalty? One possible reason for the false confessions was that the suspects were taken into what was called the ‘prop room’, before their interrogations – where they saw crime scene photos and what looked to be confidential files. LEO: The police justified having this ‘prop room’ by saying ‘We wanted to show these killers that we knew everything they did’. They were essentially educated about how the crime occurred, and so they fed back some of those details in their confession, and of course some of the stories matched. KIMBALL: The prop room is a ruse. It’s a trick. It’s a way to get a potential suspect to believe that you have information that you really don’t have. NARRATOR: Also in the prop room, were phony folders with the suspects’ names on them, filled with official-looking documents. And there was some theater involved. The suspects were led to believe that allowing them into that room was a huge mistake. KIMBALL: And then a commander would come in and say ‘What the heck is this person doing here? Get ’em outta here, he’s seen too much’. NARRATOR: Seeing the crime scene photographs had a devastating effect on the suspects, especially Leo Bruce. RAKE: Never seen a dead body. He’s certainly never seen anybody that was murdered. You can imagine what that must’ve looked like to a young man, who had never been involved in any criminal activity whatsoever. It scared him. He was terrified. NARRATOR: Some experts say that law enforcement in Phoenix was under so much pressure to solve the crime, they may have lost their objectivity. LEO: They were so locked into the belief, A. That these people had to be guilty, and B. No matter how psychologically rough, or however psychologically long, or what techniques you use, innocent people don’t falsely confess, and therefore these people will not falsely confess. It was their ignorance combined with their overzealousness in this case that surprised me. NARRATOR: The question still troubling police was how Mike McGraw, the mental patient, knew about the word ‘Bloods’ carved in the temple wall. It was all a misunderstanding. RAKE: Crazy Mike had said during one of the interviews, ‘Was there blood on the wall?’ And by the time it gets back to the headquarters, what it is percieved that he is saying is the word ‘Bloods’ is written on the wall. NARRATOR: In 1994, Johnathan Doody was tried and convicted for his role in the Buddhist temple massacre, and sentenced to 281 years in prison. Before Alex Garcia was sentenced, he revealed one last piece of news – some information about another murder. Shortly after the Buddhist temple massacre, at a lakeside campsite in northern Arizona, Alice Marie Cameron was shot and killed, while being robbed of twenty dollars. George Peterson, a transient with a history of mental illness, was a suspect in that case. Peerson was questioned for fourteen hours before he confessed to killing Alice Cameron, and was charged with first degree murder. But Alex Garcia said that he was the one who murdered Alice Cameron, and that George Peterson was innocent. ROMLEY: It was probably the most important piece to convince law enforcement that we needed to revisit the way we were doing business. Because this was not just a nice lady that instance. NARRATOR: For his part in these two crimes, Alex Garcia was convicted and sentenced to 271 years in prison. INVESTIGATOR: You did it. NARRATOR: Three members of the Tuscon Four accused their interrogators of making threats, depriving them of food, rest, and access to telephones to speak with their attorneys. They sued Maricopa County, and recieved a $2.8 million dollar settlement. George Peterson also sued the county, and recieved a $1.1 million dollar settlement. Citizens of Phoenix lost confidence. KIMBALL: I think the public trust was significantly damaged. I think the sheriff’s office became a laughing stock for a while. NARRATOR: Today, the Wat Promkunaram temple continues to serve Phoenix’s Buddhist community. In the garden, behind the temple, is a memorial to the nine, kind, peace-loving individuals who were slaughtered one night because two seventeen-year-old boys decided to play a war game. It also stands as a reminder that the journey to truth and justice isn’t always a straight path. There’s a need for objectivity.

100 comments

  1. Where were the parents? Where were the attorneys!? No wonder we don't trust the police! They lie to you set people up. Those sheriffs are the ones who should be in jail. I'll bet Arpio was right in the thick of this.

  2. An unbelievably awful crime. I hope those 2 vile, sickening monsters really suffer in jail. Garcia and Doody ! Sound like a comedy duo.

  3. All the API in the Arizona D.O.C. need to green light this coward ass sell out. Real talk uso and A's Split the Banana!

  4. The needless killing is just wrong on all levels,but one of the many things that pissed me off about this was when they had the real killers;then the cops said "Just leave the others in jail we'll get evidence!" That pissed me off to no end! Oh so the cops screwed up,but they're going to make for innocent men pay for their incompetence,and I have to ask myself how many times has that happened in the past? Because once is too many!

  5. OH MY GOD. STOP USING THESE POOR DOGS TO SMEAR HUMAN BEINGS AS WELL AS THESE SHOWS WHERE BULLSHIT ABOUNDS. GO SMELL JOEL OSTEENS FOR CHRIST SAKES.

  6. when I was this age I was at a work camp, and the boys started spontaneously playing a fantasy war game…Some were Army and some chose Marines. But against each other. It Went from fun fantasy to the boys acting more and more violent against each other. I wound up stopping it with my friend because we could see the direction it was going and someone was going to get seriously hurt. basically I just sat the leaders down and we told them that some of them were too wound up and it had become real for those guys…Someone could die…Even they admitted that it was possible, and agreed to stop all of them under pressure from us. They were actually relieved that we stopped them cuz they didn’t know how to stop it themselves without losing face. I am so glad we took action.

  7. This is the 3rd Forensic Files, I believe, where I've vented over political pressure on law people to convict SOMEBODY for some terrible crime. In one case, the person was probably guilty, although the evidence presented was risible. This case, & one other, are obvious abuses of the law. I wonder how many other innocent souls are languishing in the slammer because of corruption of the legal system.

  8. weird the prosecutor Romley at 27:10 states that he sat down and read the statements of the 4 suspects and came to the conclusion that it did not add up, …… you think he would have done that a lot earlier in the case, incompetent bastard

  9. Scandalous! This is a horrible story for the kids arrested and those poor Buddhist men/woman.
    Very disheartening the cop's work & investigating skills suck!
    Thank goodness for the prosecutor the guy had morals, ethics, and empathy!😔 This could've had a faithful, terrible, outcome, for the victims accused, also I'm happy for the homeless man.😔

  10. "…part of a war games exercise"  !!!  Just how sick & deluded were they?  And they hoped / expected that they would get away with it???  Pitiful.

  11. "We in America don't keep people in jail hoping to get evidence", Check Rikers Island you lying jerk off!

  12. "We in America don't keep people in jail hoping to get evidence", Check Rikers Island you lying jerk off!

  13. If only they were shaolin monks and not the usually monks those criminals would have had instant regret. As far as i know shaolink monks are not into violence but they will certainly defend themselves.

  14. FBI profilers were great! According to them suspects were unstable and exhibits juvenile behavior then the real murderer were a highschoolers 😉

  15. why don't people immediately request a lawyer?! If its regarding Murder, innocent or not, ask for a Lawyer and shut yo gawd damn mouth ha

  16. The narrator did everything he could to not state the obvious which is the cops who dealt with these guys are incompetent, heartless, ruthless liars. Pressure my ass. You cannot do that to someone to save your stupid face. Also, that mental patient… How did he know a detail that was never made public? Weird case.

  17. may they rest in peace and may their love and compassion be transferred to the animals who did this….and wisihing the animals be awakened…

  18. What? Maricopa County Arizona sheriff's office violating people's rights? It can't be, They had Joe Arpaio the ex-convict sheriff pardon by #TrresonTrump #TraitorTrump #CorruptTrump Not MARICOPA COUNTY, they're "good americans"

  19. Interesting article. https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/joe-arpaio-should-get-down-on-his-ancient-knees-and-thank-buddhist-temple-mass-murderer-johnathan-doody-6652203 This case shaped Phoenix political landscape for the next quarter century. How does Phoenix politics work? How do you vote an incompetent sheriff, Joe Arpaio, into office for 25 years? Does heat fry people's brains there?

  20. All I can say is, thank God for forensics, so many have been prosecuted when coerced under pressure to confess, fed information, grilled and pressured for hours with no breaks.

  21. "Category: Comedy"
    I have never posted a video before… how the hell does a mass murder documentary acquire that categorization?

  22. Not to ignore the terrible nature of this crime but I'm totally blown away by advances made in forensics that the video highlights. If this case isn't solved it's not for lack of evidence.

  23. WHY WOULD TEENS……ROB A PLACE….AND NOT TAKE MONEY…???? WHAT WAS THE MOTIVE THEN..????????…..TO ROB THE PLACE….OF WHAT??

  24. It is a miracle in this country when ignorance is overcome! It took the lives of nine innocent people and the scrutiny of the press to sufficiently upset a very ugly apple cart. As questioning goes on beyond 8 or 10 hours, fatigue becomes overwhelming. It's amazing that police don't realize that a person with a reason to foment resistance to questioning (actual guilt) is less likely to break down and confess than an innocent person who has not previously steeled himself in anticipation of such questioning. The scales fall from the eyes and ignorance is finally brought to light.

  25. We absolutely keep people in jail without evidence, it happens all the time, and that guy is being ignorant about it.

  26. The killers killed because they were afraid of getting caught. The police rushed to judgement because they were afraid of looking incompetent. Or as the Buddhist saying goes "One gets what they are afraid of."

  27. What does the lawyer mean, "McGraw would've confessed to the holocaust." What evidence does he have of that? Was McGraw confessing to other crimes? Come on, he's trying to discredit the guy on the basis of his being in a mental ward. But it's not like he was a lifer a schizophrenic. It sounds like he was there because of his recent suicide attempt after the guilt became too much. I think there needs to be more than just a wink and a nudge saying yeah he's a mental patient. Whatever the truth, facts must be provided, not innuendo and mental health stereotypes. Even if McGraw was lying…

  28. Are they "Crime Investigators' or "Crime Manipulators" ????? And the two idiots,,,what the
    hell can be said about them ?????? Evil,,, fucking Evil !

  29. It is, kind of like the central park 5. Back in, 1989 4 black and one latino teens were convicted of raping, and beating a female jogger in new York . They confessed to the crime after hours of interrogation and we're sentenced to 7 to 13 years in prison. Then 13 years later the real perpetrator came forward in prison and they were all exonerated

  30. they would do anything to get a fake confession shame on them 😒👎👎 America really does keep people in jail in order to get a confession 🙄

  31. Why monks? They are the most peaceful people on earth. I wasn’t born in a buddhist family nor in a country. But buddhism is the most peaceful religion/mindset for me ever.

  32. Dudes it's true they have trillions of dollars but it's in India and the Indian government wants to tax that money but it's not a money it's in precious stones gold silver diamonds rubies etc etc from over the centuries of people giving to the temple

  33. What is so shocking is the question how many innocent people were sent to jail in Arizona because the Police were only concerned with getting a case resolved. Its clear there are real issues in the US with how crimes are investigated. There is a horrible mindset at work here that says the truth does not matter as long as someone anyone goes to prison.

  34. The temple is still standing and very beautiful. Whenever I visit the temple, I make sure I pay my respect to the monks and others that were killed.

  35. A dumb lazy backwards Police investigation… Of course they will never suffer for their incompetence; that is not how the law works…

  36. If you kept those detectives awake for 48 hours browbeating and yelling and threatening them, they would have confessed to doing it themselves …

  37. These investigators should be fired and jailed for the way they browbeat these 4 young men. Lesson to learn: Nevet talk without your lawyer present.

  38. Of all the unbelievably depraved, low, stupid, insane things I've ever come across – this one makes my top ten. smh.

  39. Detective Kimball lies like a sociopath when he says that the psychiatric patient couldn't have known of "Bloods" being carved in the wall. In actuality the detectives conveyed to the crazy man that information and then arrested him for knowing that "privaledged" information. Kimball is as dirty a cop as ever lived in many other cases too.

  40. Kimball says "I was absolutely positive that we now had one of the perps". If Kimball was really a competent detective he wouldn't be positive. He would have known that sometimes mental patients falsely confess.

  41. Evil walks amongst us and we don't know when it will strike!!!! Very sad about those monk's. 👼💞 😔 There's nothing wrong with the narrator's voice!!!!!!

  42. Scary Sheriff department. Were past cases reviewed to find out if innocent people were wrongly convicted by these interrogators?

  43. What made Peter Thomas different is that he was not just a great narrator with a soothing voice but he was also a voice actor who brought these stories to life with his vivid voice acting.

  44. Damn people! Stop talking about Peter Thomas being so much better and R.I.P. and "we'll miss you", and "the show isn't the same without him" and blah, blah, blah. It's people like you that cause shows to get canceled. You sound like weirdos that watched the show because you got turned on by the guys voice. Also, the loud background intense scene music that played for Peter Thomas's narrations was VERY annoying. This guy doesn't do that.

  45. I wonder how many innocent men and women are currently languishing in the US prisons due to coerced confession. Imagine the sheriff blunder, for both crimes they convicted the wrong guys. The Airforce centurion who diligently caught the gun would have made a better investigator than those lousy cops.

  46. Maricopa County is a racist stupid sheriff racist against Mexico racist against disabled people the county has the worst police ever

  47. Which is the episode where a women was killed by detective's friend and changed his story multiple times. The killer walked out of the house bare footed …

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