The Interrogation

Barry Beach’s Arrest and Interrogation in Louisiana

On the night of January 4, 1983, Barry Beach was picked up by Monroe, Louisiana police on a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In conjunction with Barry’s arrest on this misdemeanor charge, detectives in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana were working overtime to try to solve the abduction murders of three young women, one of them the daughter of a high school principal. When homicide detective, Sgt. Jay Via, ran a background check on Barry Beach, he learned about the unsolved murder of Kim Nees in Montana.

On the morning of January 8th, after spending several days trying to post his bail, Barry Beach’s father, Bob Beach, and uncle, Tim Beach, showed up at the Monroe law office of Paul Henry Kidd and retained him to find out why they had been getting the runaround at the jail. When Kidd appeared at the jail to inquire about the status of his new client, he learned that Barry had signed a murder confession the night before.

According to Detective Jay Via’s report, Barry Beach also confessed in the presence of his attorney to being involved in the three Louisiana homicides. Those statements have been proven false. All three of the homicides were determined to have been committed by others and Barry Beach was never charged in Louisiana with any of these crimes. As Louisiana Detective Jay Via testified, Barry Beach’s statements about the three Louisiana homicides were proven “absolutely false.” (Tr. 679)

After Barry Beach had been confined for two days at the rural minimum security detention facility known as the “pea farm,” Detective Jay Via showed up there on January 6th and questioned him briefly about the local murders. Barry denied involvement in these murders. Detective Via returned to the “pea farm” the following morning (January 7th) and escorted Barry to the parish sheriff’s office in Monroe where he placed Barry in a tiny interrogation room.

Without breaking for lunch, Detective Via then grilled Barry throughout the morning and into the afternoon on the local murders. Barry acknowledged having heard about the parish murders, but insisted to Detective Via that he had not been involved with them.

Around 2:00 in the afternoon, Detective Via left the room and Detective Alfred Calhoun took over the interrogation, which by this time, had shifted from the Louisiana murders to the unsolved murder of Kim Nees in Montana.

According to Barry Beach, Detectives Alfred Calhoun and Jay Via put him through an emotional wringer, alternately demeaning him, threatening him, praying with him, and describing to him in frightening detail the horrors of being put to death in the Louisiana electric chair.

According to Barry, Detective Calhoun told him that unless he admitted to the Montana murder, Calhoun would personally see to it that he went to the electric chair in Louisiana. By the end of several hours of interrogation, the Louisiana detectives had a tape recorded confession to the Kim Nees murder.

During the course of the interrogation of Barry Beach, there were numerous phone calls between the Louisiana Detectives and the Roosevelt County Sheriff in Montana, Dean Mahlum, who provided the Louisiana Detectives with a nine point list of things that Kim Nees’ killer should know.

A comparison of Barry Beach’s confession to the crime shows that Barry was wrong on eight of the nine points and that most of his confession was based upon either publicly known facts or is inconsistent with the actual evidence determined from Kim Nees’ body at the crime scene.

At Barry Beach’s trial, the prosecutor told the jury that Barry Beach had not only confessed, but had confessed in front of his own lawyer. Paul Kidd, Barry Beach’s Louisiana attorney, absolutely denies this assertion in a sworn statement. Kidd was not called to testify at Beach’s trial and did not even know of the prosecutor’s statement until well after Beach’s trial was over.

In his sworn statement, attorney Paul Kidd states in part: “It goes without saying that I was outraged over Jay Via’s alleged testimony that Barry Beach confessed to the Montana murders in my presence”, … “Barry denied any involvement in the Montana murder.”

During the course of the lengthy interrogation in Louisiana, it was reported that Barry Beach had confessed to three murders in Louisiana, as well. Detectives at Barry Beach’s trial in Montana later reported that those confessions were “later proved unfounded.” (Tr. 679). In fact, after being interrogated, Barry Beach had given incriminating statements about all three murders in Louisiana, each of which was “established later to be absolutely false.” (Testimony of Louisiana detective Jay Via, Tr. 679). Also, another person later confessed to one of those three murders (Tr. 683) and other suspects were later charged with those offenses.

The behavior of clearly falsely confessing to the Louisiana murders underscores the coercive tactics that were used to extract the Kim Nees confession from Barry Beach.