TheWitnessPartIIA “star witness,” Sammie Lintonberg, had come forward to accuse Harold, her ex-boyfriend, of being the serial murderer of three young women killed in Tulsa.

She was lying; I knew she was lying. The Police Chief and other staff members nonetheless decided to take all Sammie’s statements to the DA and file murder charges against Harold. I went to the homicide sergeant.

“Don’t you see?” I said. “They’ve led her through her statements like a dog on a leash. I want you to go to the DA and tell him this is the wrong man. I want the right killer, the guilty one.”

“I can’t do that.”

I stalked out of the bullpen. “What are you going to do, Sasser?” he called after me.

“Find the right killer.”

I radioed my partner McCracken to witness what I had to do. Sammie was a mental case. In questioning her, I would prove conclusively that an interrogator could make her say anything he wanted her to say. False witnesses with their own agendas are not that unusual in criminal cases.

McCracken and I took her to Riverside Park near the bicycle/jogger path where Suzanne Oakley’s mutilated body had been found.

“Where were you when this all started?” I asked her.

“You don’t believe me,” she whined. “You think I’m a liar.”

Show me!”

She flinched. After a moment of blank staring, she led the way off the trail to a spot near the trees.

“Now, point to where Harold attacked the girl.”

She pointed. The bicycle path was eighty feet away.

“You were right here and heard him. What was it he said to her?”

“He asked her for a light, and then he asked her if she wanted to smoke some pot.”

“Stay here.”

McCracken and I stood on the path within Sammie’s view.

“She’s a fat, sloppy, dirty, smelly, lying pig,” I said in a louder than normal voice. I smiled and waved at Sammie.

“You heard me, right? What did I say?”

“You asked if he had a light,” she called back. “Then you said, like, ‘Do you want to smoke some pot?’”

I looked at McCracken. “This is just the beginning,” I promised, and for the next half-hour I led Sammie through her paces.

“Did you see Harold stab Suzanne?”

“No, man, no.”

“Sammie, you don’t have to be embarrassed. You can tell the truth. You saw him stab her (in the genitals), didn’t you?”

“I was scared, man. Like I tried not to look. . . I seen him stab that girl. He stabbed her in the (genitals).”

Suzanne’s wounds were in the throat and left breast.

“Get it all out, Sammie. How many times did he stab her? Tell the truth.”

“Like, I seen him stab her three times.”

“Was that when you ran away?”

“Man, I was scared.”

“But then you came back to see?”

“He had a spell on me.”

“Sammie, tell the truth. You never even left, did you?”

She hung her head.

“Why did you lie about Wes being there with you?”

“I thought you’d see I was telling the truth about Harold if somebody else was there too.”

I kept at her, giving her no relief, leading her wherever I wanted.

“Where did he get the knife?”

“He had it in one of those canes with a knife in it.”

“Did he stab her before or after he (raped her anally).”

“That was before. He had gun, man, and, like, he held it on me while he (raped) her.”

He hadn’t raped her at all.

“Sammie, Harold made love to you first, didn’t he?”

Tears appeared. “I wasn’t going to tell you about that.”

“Isn’t it also true that you had sex with him after he killed Suzanne, not before?”

“He wanted (oral), but I wouldn’t do it.”

I gave McCracken a grim look. I coached Sammie into changing her story several more times before I let up. Finally, McCracken stopped me.

“You’ve made your point,” he said.

No charges were filed against Harold. Sammie was charged with making a false police crime report.

Twenty-eight years later, DNA, a technique not available previously, led to the arrest and conviction of Clyde Carl Wilkerson, a long-distance truck driver from California, for murdering Geraldine Martin, one of my three victims. He was suspected of, or convicted of, killing a number of other young women across the nation in his travels. He remains the primary suspect in the homicides of Suzanne Oakley and Marie Rosenbaum.

Charles W. Sasser is the author of Homicide!, the grim autobiography of a police homicide detective.