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Apparatus For Obtaining Criminal Confessions And Photographically Recording Them

Patents are granted to protect a person who has an idea, not to render judgement on whether it's a good idea. Therefore, the patent files are full of strange and wonderful notions that will make you scratch your head. In 1930, Shelby Helene Adelaide was granted a patent for a system to interrogate crime suspects and compel a confession from the guilty.  

“The present invention relates to a new and useful apparatus for obtaining confessions from culprits, or those suspected of the commission of crimes, and photographically recording these confessions, in the form of sound waves, in conjunction with their pictures, depicting their every expression and emotion, to be preserved for later reproduction as evidence against them,” the inventor describes her invention.

The invention works somewhat like this: first, the suspect is isolated in a small, dark chamber. The examiner sits in a nearby chamber and asks their questions through a megaphone. But here’s a twist—the suspect isn’t able to see the questioner. Instead, they’re faced with “a figure in the form of a skeleton.”

Moreover, the eyes of the skeleton are glowing red “for the purpose of imparting to the eyes of the skeleton an unnatural ghastly glow”

While such a setup might be perfect for a haunted house attraction, its use in solving crimes might have only come down to separating hardened criminals from the hopelessly naive (and probably innocent), who would end up traumatized for life. At any rate, it seems no one built this contraption, much less used it in law enforcement. Read about Adelaide's patent and see more pictures at Bored Panda.

(Image source: Google Patents)

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I checked my sources, and found out that this is only known form the memoir of one of the inventigators of the Haarmann case, which became public around 1960. This information is not from the official case file. .
I remember that i heared it in an interview with the leading actor of the movie "Deathmaker" in the radio. Unformtunately i was not albe to chane the initial post to indicate that this was claimed by an inventigator of the case. mea cupla.
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This reminds me of the "Fritz Haarmann" serial killer case. Haarmann has been chained to his cell. The police placed illuminated skulls with red paper placed in their orbits and a bag of bones of his victims in the cell. The police told him the souls of his victims would come and get him if he won't confess, which finaly caused superstitious Haarmann to confess...
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