About John Hoda

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So far John Hoda has created 22 entries.

Making the List and Checking it Twice

By |December 24th, 2015|Categories: crime, False Confessions, PEACE in America, taped confessions||Comments Off on Making the List and Checking it Twice




Bobby Johnson will celebrate his first Christmas with family in 9 years. He and Kwami made the HuffPo list for 2015  


Webinar – Ethical Investigation Interviews: The PEACE Model

By |October 5th, 2015|Categories: Events, PEACE in America||Comments Off on Webinar – Ethical Investigation Interviews: The PEACE Model

Webinar: Ethical Investigation Interviews:  The PEACE Model
Instructor: John A. Hoda

October 15, 2015 at 2:00 pm ET

Click here to register

The aggressive, intimidating interrogation tactics you see on television don’t always work. Not only can they discourage the interviewee from giving you the information you need, but also they have been shown to elicit false confessions. A more conversational interviewing style, which builds trust and rapport, is the way forward. This philosophy is encapsulated in the PEACE Model of investigative interviewing, developed in the early 90s and used by law enforcement in the UK, Canada, Australia since then.

Webinar attendees will also receive a 10% discount code for upcoming two-day workshops on the PEACE Model, being held this November in Atlanta 16-17th, Boston 19-20th, San Francisco 9-10th and Dallas 12-13th – Introducing P.E.A.C.E to America


An Article in PI Magazine that Provides a Comprehensive Look at P.E.A.C.E

By |September 10th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||Comments Off on An Article in PI Magazine that Provides a Comprehensive Look at P.E.A.C.E

Coerced Confessions

By |September 6th, 2015|Categories: crime, False Confessions, justice, Uncategorized||Comments Off on Coerced Confessions



On August 1, 2006 Herbert Fields was robbed, shot and killed as he sat in his car in a not so good neighborhood of New Haven, CT. The killers ran to the next intersection and veered to the right towards where they lived. A few days later, the police asked to see if the prints on the vehicle belonged to a suspected shooter or the young man that knew Mr. Fields was flush with cash and had set up that place and time to meet and receive a small loan.

A month later, the suspected shooter was found dead in possession of the gun that killed Fields and had been used in other two murders just prior to the Field’s killing.

Forty-five days after that, an upside down palm print on the passenger side of the car came back to the suspected shooter’s cousin whom he lived with. Both had significant contacts with the police. Both matched the general description of the witnesses.This was the evidence.

Yet, all this was ignored, when some very questionable informants and the alleged illegal use of Confidential Informant money somehow led the detectives to the men pictured with me. The connections were tenuous at best.  A third boy, Michael Holmes was coerced into giving a statement against Bobby Johnson to my left and Kwami Wells-Jordan on my right. Coerced confessions  by Bobby and Kwami were used against each other along with Holmes’ statement. None of the boys had a lawyer present when they were badgered for hours. One was threatened with the death penalty, if he didn’t confess and was told he would just get 10 years probation, if he put himself and the other boy at the scene. The other […]

Forensic Interviewing Seminar at TALI Conference

By |June 29th, 2015|Categories: Events||Comments Off on Forensic Interviewing Seminar at TALI Conference

Topic:              Forensic Interviewing Seminar
Where:            Texas Association of Licensed Investigators Conference
San Antonio Wyndham Riverwalk

Instructor:      John Hoda

Date:                August 26, 2015

John A. Hoda is a former academy-trained police officer, insurance fraud investigator and claims manager. He has been a licensed private investigator for 18 years and is the owner of Elm City Detectives. He has won  publishing awards for articles on Interviewing in PI Magazine and The Legal Investigator. His cases have made headlines in the Philadelphia Inquirer andThe New Haven Register. He graduated from Indiana Univ. of Pa. with a B.S. in Criminology and has been a student of interview his entire adult life.  His internet company is The Department of What Happened featuring the video download: The Ultimate Guide to Taking Statements. John is a frequent guest on the American PI podcast and has provided webinars to the National Assoc. of Public Defenders and I-Sight.com.


American PI Podcast

By |June 16th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||Comments Off on American PI Podcast

Great friend Paul Jaeb has me on his podcast as a recurring guest. We met at the FALI conference in Coco Beach Florida and he wanted to talk about the Department of What Happened.

Listen here:

Swimming Upstream

By |January 5th, 2015|Categories: False Confessions||Comments Off on Swimming Upstream

I was so stunned, that I had to read this article twice before I understood its true meaning. The Suffolk County District Attorney in Boston, Massachusetts brought PEACE to America. It’s the first instance that I am aware of this interview and interrogation technique, developed over 30 years ago in the UK, being taught here in the United States.

PEACE combines both legal and ethical techniques.  Previously, this forward-thinking prosecutor had experts come in to talk to his Trial and Homicide units about  False Confessions.

Reading between the lines of this article brings me to a logical conclusion. If certain methods of legal, although not always ethical interrogations  produce false confessions, this is how would he fill the void if he discouraged the use of false-confession producing techniques.

I will keep you posted on his progress.


In the same Google Alert, I then read how some of the boys n’ girls in blue in Austin, TX are not going with the flow for transparency in the interrogation process. This summer, I blogged about how then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a memorandum to all Federal LEO about recording all interrogations and serious interviews. I also blogged about the need to record all custodial interviews. Otherwise, the stuff that goes on before the final recorded event never sees the light of day in a courtroom.


Maybe it’s just that their patrol officers are camera shy. Antonio Buehler, a Stanford and West Point Grad, was acquitted after a four day trial on misdemeanor charges stemming from his filming of a street arrest in the Texas capital with his smart phone.


I try to focus on investigative interviewing technique, false witness/false confession wrongful convictions, but to have the same PD fighting against […]

Webinar: Closing the Investigative Interview

By |December 9th, 2014|Categories: Events||Comments Off on Webinar: Closing the Investigative Interview

Webinar:  Closing the Investigative Interview: When “That’s About It” or “That’s Basically It.”  IS NOT the End of the Story

Instructor:  John Hoda

February 5, 2015

2:00 p.m.


Sometimes, what a subject offers after the interview can be far more revealing than what’s contained in your interview notes.

Conducting effective investigative interviews requires a combination of great communication skills, empathy and the ability to look beyond the obvious, but most training techniques do not emphasize the closing.

Join John A. Hoda, investigator, trainer and author, for a one-hour webinar during which he will outline strategies for getting more information by harvesting the post-interview comments.

Webinar attendees will learn:

How to end an interview in a way that elicits more information
What “door-knobbing” is and why it’s considered to be a rich source of intelligence
Language that encourages interview subjects to talk more
Why staying “present” at the end of the interview can pay big dividends


John A. Hoda is a police-trained and college-educated former insurance company fraud investigator with decades of experience as a private investigator. He is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and a Certified Legal Investigator (CLI), one of only 74 in the world, and is trained in Uncovering Reasonable Doubt: The Component Method. John is an expert in the art and science of interviewing and is the creator of The Ultimate Guide to Taking Statements: Digital Edition at www.thedeptwhathappened.com where he blogs on Interviewing at The Department of What Happened

Eyewitness Recall, Maybe

By |December 5th, 2014|Categories: justice||Comments Off on Eyewitness Recall, Maybe

The article in vox.com quotes the Elizabeth Loftus studies on recall to help explain why the witnesses in the Michael Brown shooting were all over the map on describing what happened that fateful day in Ferguson, MO.


“In announcing that police officer Darren Wilson would not be charged for shooting Michael Brown, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch talked a lot about eyewitness testimony: how witnesses’ accounts had changed or been inconsistent with physical evidence, and how some eventually admitted they hadn’t actually seen the shooting.

When asked whether he thought these witnesses had lied, he said: “I think there are a number of witnesses in all honesty that truly believed what they said,” McCullough said. “I think they truly believe that that’s what they saw. But they didn’t.”

It’s impossible to say whether, in this case, McCullough is right. But since the 1970s, psychologists have conducted studies on eyewitness testimony.  And consistently, they’ve found it to be a shaky form of evidence.”

Newsweek quotes a Prominent Criminal Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman who has successfully defended high-profile clients such as rap mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs and former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, tells Newsweek that “witnesses who see a startling or frightening event often get it wrong or assume things that may not be accurate, and when you add to the equation the very strong emotions in a case like this, it complicates matters dramatically because people want to testify.”

I interview people everyday that are witnesses to crimes or serious accidents. How do I know that they are giving me an accurate representation of the events? I don’t have a magic ball and am not very good at reading tea leaves.

I rely on the fundamentals of […]

Cognitive Interviewing in Connecticut

By |December 3rd, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||Comments Off on Cognitive Interviewing in Connecticut

“Its not about my questions, Its about their story.”

That’s how John A. Hoda started his presentation on Cognitive Interviewing with those gathered for food and fellowship on November 5th at the CT Association of Licensed Private Investigator’s (CALPI) meeting at the Waverly Inn in Cheshire.

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