Best Evidence

George Allen claims police made him confess to rape and murder. Twenty years after Allen was convicted, his last hope hinges on a DNA test.

But, Riley admitted to Allen's defense lawyer, "I did not say he could leave." And no other officer mentioned to Allen that he was free to go, either. According to the police, Allen had been in custody for about two-and-a-half hours.

Riley asked Allen why he was walking the city streets when his home was in University City, because it seemed odd that he would be walking around the area. He wanted to know whether Allen had ever had "relations" with white women. Then he asked Allen whether he was familiar with the LaSalle Park area, the area where Bell was murdered. Allen said yes. Riley wanted to know whether Allen had been in the area around the time of the big snow. Again Allen answered yes.

Riley also testified that he showed Allen a photograph of a vase. And Riley recalled telling Allen: "'You know that we have fingerprints from this house' or maybe I might have said from the vase. I don't remember." He never told Allen the fingerprints were his, but, Riley testified, "I wanted him to think that we had his."

Douglas Levine, who represented Allen in 1983, says he still "believes Allen is not guilty."
Jennifer Silverberg
Douglas Levine, who represented Allen in 1983, says he still "believes Allen is not guilty."
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce says the decision to test Allen isn't "a comment or statement about the strength of the case."
Jennifer Silverberg
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce says the decision to test Allen isn't "a comment or statement about the strength of the case."

Once Allen admitted to being in the area around the time of the murder, Riley said, Allen became a suspect and police began tape-recording Allen.

The taped interrogation begins with a brief statement from Riley: "The date is March 14, 1982, and the time is approximately 1:47 p.m. My name is Detective Sergeant Herb Riley, assigned to homicide, and to my left is, ah, Officer Terry James, assigned to District 3. Ah, the gentleman in the room here with us is a man who may or may not have information relative to this incident."

Before the interrogation, Riley had shown Allen pictures of the apartment complex where Bell lived. During the interrogation, he refers to the pictures: "I asked you if you had ever been down to these apartments, ah, particularly, ah, in February when we had the deep snow. And you looked at the pictures, and was you down in that area?"

"Yeah, I was down there," Allen answers; a moment later, he adds that he was positive it was "late -- late at night" when he knocked on Mary's door. (The murder occurred in the morning.)

Riley mentions additional photographs of doors, wooden decks and steps at Bell's apartment that were shown to Allen.

"Had you ever been up on that deck and, in fact, had you ever knocked on that particular door?"

"Yeah, I did," Allen responds. A lady answered, he adds.

What did she look like? "Ah, I guess white," Allen says. "Dark hair, I guess." (Bell was a blonde.)

Riley continues: "When I asked you what she looked like, George, I mean, was she an attractive woman or ..."

"Yeah, she was attractive."

"Did she have a nice body on her?"

"Yeah."

"You remember how she was dressed at that time?"

"Uh, I think she had on a nightgown," Allen answers, then describes the nightgown as white.

Allen says he asked the woman whether he could come in and get warm. She said she didn't usually let men in the house.

"And what -- did she let you in there?" Riley asks.

"No, I don't think so. I think I forced my way in."

"Well, then what happened?"

"Ah, we started wrasslin'."

"I mean," Riley continues, "do you remember when you went in the door, did you go up some steps, or what happened? Ah, you remember?"

"Well, I think I was chasin' her up the steps."

Riley asks what happened next. "Well, I was wrasslin' with her, tryin' to force some answers," Allen says. "We went to bed together" on "a brass bed."

Riley asks, "Are you sayin' that because I showed you a picture of that, or do you recall that?"

"I recall it."

Did Allen have sex with Bell? Allen says yes, but "front, was all."

"Did you stick it in her butt?" Riley asks.

"Ah, no, I didn't."

"You sure of that?"

"Uh, no, I'm not sure."

"Could you have?"

"I might have. I could have."

The two men talk abut Bell's figure. "Was there anything about her body that especially turned you on?" Riley asks.

"Um, her chest, breasts."

"What was -- what about her breasts?"

"They were large," Allen responds. Riley asks Allen to describe Bell's figure.

Allen estimates Bell's measurements for the detective.

"Shit, man, you talkin' about a big -- big, big chest, ain't ya?" Riley says. "You sound like you're an authority on measurements. What'd you say 38 --"

"-27-35."

"Sounds awful good, doesn't it?"

"Yeah," Allen answers.

Riley has Allen go back through his testimony up to this point and asks, "Did you have sex -- other than on the bed, did you have sex anyplace else in that room?"

"On the floor. And, ah, I guess over against the wall and then --"

"On the floor, next to where?"

"Next to the bed."

A couple of questions later, Riley goes back to the question of sodomy.

"OK. Did you stick it in her butt?"

"Yeah, I guess I did. Yeah."

"Was she -- was she resisting this, George?"

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