The Thomas Quick Case: a lesson on the importance of ethical investigative interviewing

The Thomas Quick case underscores the vital importance of ethical standards in investigative interviewing and the necessity for reliable police recording technology.

This blog examines Quick’s notorious wrongful convictions due to coerced confessions to numerous murders he never committed. Through this cautionary tale, we delve into the consequences of improper police interviewing methods and the significant role that interview recording could play in preventing such miscarriages of justice. Highlighting the shifts needed in legal practices, the blog advocates for enhanced recording methods to uphold the integrity of investigations and protect vulnerable individuals from undue influence during interviews. 


  • Case overview: The Thomas Quick case highlights the severe consequences of unethical investigative interviewing and the importance of reliable police recording technology, with Quick falsely confessing to numerous murders due to coercive interview techniques.
  • Investigative errors: Key errors included leading questions, lack of solid evidence, and no reliable recording equipment, resulting in wrongful convictions. The use of suggestive interview methods and Quick’s vulnerability due to heavy medication exacerbated these issues.
  • Advocacy for change: The blog advocates for the integration of ethical interviewing practices and reliable recording technology, as championed by Davidhorn, to prevent miscarriages of justice and ensure transparent and fair investigations.

The Thomas Quick saga: a cautionary tale 

The story of Thomas Quick, is a chilling reminder of the critical role of ethical practices in investigative interviewing. Quick, who confessed to numerous murders he did not commit, became a central figure in a series of wrongful convictions. This case stands as a stark example of the consequences of flawed police interview techniques. 

The enigmatic case of Thomas Quick 

Thomas Quick, a Swedish man with the real name of Sture Bergwall, became infamously known for confessing to more than 30 unsolved murders across Scandinavia in the 1990s. He was convicted of eight of them – six in Sweden and two in Norway.  For years he was deemed Scandinavia’s most dangerous serial killer, but then all of the sudden the matter took a dramatic turn when Quick retracted all his confessions, leading to a re-examination of the evidence and eventually, the overturning of his convictions. This case is a bewildering journey through a maze of false confessions and questionable legal proceedings. 

Investigative missteps unveiled 

Key errors in Quick’s interviews were marked by the use of leading questions and the acceptance of questionable confessions without solid evidence. These flawed practices, exacerbated by the lack of reliable police interview recording equipment, resulted in miscarriages of justice. Quick’s admissions, largely shaped by suggestive and coercive interview techniques, were accepted without the scrutiny that recording could have offered.  

Frequently, Quick was under the influence of prescription drugs, rendering him a vulnerable interviewee. From today’s perspective, it is clear that he should have been interviewed in a very different way. First, the police should have used investigative interviewing instead of suggestible interview methods, next all interviews should have been recorded, and finally, much more caution should have been given to the fact that he was under heavy medication during interviews. If fact, getting more drugs might have been his main motivation to keep telling the lies.  

Discover more about transitioning from traditional interrogation to Investigative Interviewing. 

The role of recording interviews in preventing false confessions 

Had Davidhorn’s Investigative Interviewing recording systems been in place, the outcome of the Thomas Quick case might have been drastically different. Reliable and transparent recording of Quick’s interviews and fair interview technique while interviewing a suspect  

could have provided an objective account, helping to identify inconsistencies and prevent the acceptance of coerced or fabricated confessions. Interview recording technology ensures that every detail of the interview is captured, preserving the integrity of both the process and the evidence. 

Read more about the role of recording interviews in the UN Manual on Investigative Interviewing.

Davidhorn’s commitment to ethical interviewing practices 

At Davidhorn, we recognize the gravity of cases like Thomas Quick’s and the indispensable role of ethical interviewing and recording technology. Our solutions provide an objective, tamper-proof record of interviews, fostering a transparent and fair investigative process. We believe that the integration of recording technology in investigative interviewing can prevent similar tragedies and ensure justice is served through accurate and ethical practices. 

Want to learn more about how to work with vulnerable witnesses?

Written by Marta Hopfer-Gilles 

Fact checked by Ivar A Fahsing (PhD) 

(Chat GPT was used while creating this blog)