This happened in the 1970s one town over from where I grew up. There's a surprising lack of good info on this online, but here's a link with some basic info about the case. For those who don't remember, Peter Reilly was 18 when he came home from a church group meeting to find his mother brutally murdered. Long story short, he confessed, but later recanted. His mother's murder is still unsolved.
My own mom taught both Reilly and the two guys who later became suspects in school. She always said she thought one of them (not Reilly) did it.
There's an American Justice episode on this (with crime scene pics) and a book -- one of the first true crime books I ever read -- called "A Death in Canaan." We used to drive by the place where Reilly's mother was killed (the house was torn down) when I was a kid... very eerie.
Sept. 28: At some time between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m., Barbara Gibbons, 51, is murdered in her Falls Village home, probably by more than one assailant and almost surely while she puts up a fight for her life. She is stabbed many times and almost beheaded by deep throat slashes. Her nose, three ribs and both thigh bones are broken. Her body is mutilated and internal injuries are inflicted by the sexual use of an unknown weapon. There is a great loss of blood.
The victim’s son, Peter A. Reilly, 18, returns home from a youth center board meeting at Canaan Methodist Church just moments after the assault. Discovering his mother’s body on the bedroom floor, he makes five telephone calls for medical assistance. The calls bring a state police cruiser and the Canaan volunteer ambulance as well as friends within minutes.
As other police personnel arrive, led by the Canaan barracks commandant, Lt. James Shay, Peter Reilly is regarded as a suspect. He is questioned and searched. After his constitutional rights are read to him, a statement is taken down, including his estimation that he arrived home at 9:50-9:55 and his belief that, as he saw his mother on the floor, “She was having problems breathing and she was gasping.” He states, “I didn’t touch my mother but went straight to the telephone.”
Sept. 29: Soon after 2 a.m., four hours after the homicide, Reilly is taken from his home to the Canaan barracks. He waits four more hours until Lieutenant Shay arrives to again read him his rights and begin an hour and a half interrogation. Reilly asks, “Am I actually a suspect?” He is told that he is. Perceiving that his story is not believed, he volunteers for a “lie detector” and is told that one will be arranged.
After 25 sleepless hours, Reilly is permitted four hours rest in a barracks bedroom. Meantime, a six-hour autopsy of the victim’s body is underway, conducted at Sharon Hospital by Dr. Ernest M. Izumi. He and the state medical examiner, Dr. Elliot Gross, had earlier examined the body at the murder scene. Dr. Izumi’s opinion that some of the blows and wounds were inflicted after breathing had stopped reinforces Lieutenant Shay’s suspicions of Reilly because the suspect said he thought he heard his mother breathing.
At noon, Reilly is driven to Hartford for a polygraph test that is coupled with a tape-recorded interrogation by Lieutenant Shay and three other officers that continues for some eight hours until almost 11 p.m. Statements that he slashed his mother’s throat with a straight razor and jumped on her legs before phoning for emergency aid are put in writing. After signing the confession, he is arrested, fingerprinted and driven back to Canaan.