Did a Detective Admit to the Innocence of Four Men He Helped Convict?


Photo: Former detective Robert Glenn Ford, from a 2006 deposition obtained by FRONTLINE.

December 21, 2010

A confidential witness has told an investigator that former detective Robert Glenn Ford, who elicited false confessions from four men who were later convicted of the rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko in 1997, believes they did not commit the crime, reports The Virginia-Pilot. Omar Ballard, a fifth man, later confessed to the crime, pleaded guilty and is serving two life sentences. His DNA is the only match to the crime scene, and he claims he committed the rape and murder alone.

The allegation against Ford was leveled in court documents filed last month as part of Danial Williams’ appeal to overturn his conviction. Ford’s attorney rejects the claims, and lawyers for the state insist that the “statement is unreliable and ‘contains several layers of hearsay.'”

The new allegation is just the latest in a series of legal troubles facing Ford. In May 2010, he was indicted on four counts of extortion and one count of lying to the FBI; he pleaded not guilty, was convicted on two of the four extortion charges and one charge of lying to the FBI in October and will be sentenced in February. In addition, two death row inmates recently petitioned for new evidence to be brought to their appeals. Ford was lead investigator on both cases.

The Norfolk Four’s story was told in our film The Confessions. You can also read our comprenensive timeline for more about the twists and turns of the case.

Update: On Dec. 22, 2010, a judge rejected the appeals of the two death row inmates mentioned above.

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

As the U.S. Crosses 500,000 Deaths from COVID-19, These 9 Documentaries Offer Context
These nine FRONTLINE films help explain how we reached this point.
February 22, 2021
As the U.S. Rejoins the Paris Climate Agreement, Revisit FRONTLINE’s Recent Climate Reporting
These five projects illuminate the science, politics and impacts of climate change.
February 19, 2021
Iraqi Prime Minister Announces Arrests of “Death Squad” Linked to Activist Assassinations
The arrests were a rare sign of progress in an investigation critics say has moved too slowly, while the assassination squads operate with impunity — as reported in our recent documentary "Iraq's Assassins."
February 17, 2021
The Plastic Industry Is Growing During COVID. Recycling? Not So Much.
Unlike many sectors of the U.S. economy, plastic — an industry examined in the March 2020 documentary "Plastic Wars" — is increasing during COVID. But growth also means more waste in landfills.
February 17, 2021