On Thursday 18 February the arresting officers start to interview the two boys. Thompson has been taken to Walton Lane Police Station and Venables has found himself in Liverpool’s Lower Lane Police Station. Both boys have samples of their blood, hair and fingernails taken.
The police are entering new territory with this investigation as no-one has ever interviewed child murder suspects before. To ensure their testimonies will stand up in court, it’s important that the two boys understand the implications of telling lies and telling the truth and know the differences between right and wrong. Asking specific questions to prove these facts, they both pass. So the questioning commences.
Both young boys have their mothers present along with legal representation. However, they are both coping very differently with the police questioning. Venables acts his young age - he’s hysterical and extremely scared of the investigators. He keeps revealing his deep-rooted fears of being sent to prison. Thompson on the other hand is controlled and mostly composed throughout the whole process.
Venables is quick to reveal that he had been in the area on the day that James disappeared, but doesn’t mention the Strand shopping centre. Thompson eventually reveals that they were both at the Strand and goes on to describe in detail the clothes that James was wearing. The police are perplexed as to why a young boy of 10 would know that information. This is one of Thompson’s major slip-ups as it reveals James had been with the boys for a very long time. Thompson later confesses that the two boys had taken James Bulger from the shopping centre.
The police are having a hard time, as getting the story straight is proving tricky. Both boys are blaming each other for things and doing their best to hide the truth. Thompson’s testimony changes on five separate points over the course of two days of questioning. It’s when Venables asks if you can get fingerprints off skin, that alarm bells start ringing for the police. The boys are obviously hiding something.
Police start to notice a pattern in Thompson’s chatter. Whenever he starts talking about James, his anxiety causes his legs to shuffle. By lunchtime on Friday 19 February, Thompson admits they had taken James to the railway line. During the investigation, there’s an eerie moment when Thompson imitates a wailing James asking for his mother. The investigating officers find it unnerving.
Nearing 1pm, Venables finds himself alone with his parents. It’s at this point that he can’t take any more. He breaks down and confesses to being involved in the murder. The police are listening to everything. With this revelation they can now interrogate Thompson. He refuses to admit his guilt in James’ death but police feel they have enough evidence against both suspects. On Saturday 20 February 1993, the boys are charged with the abduction and murder of James Bulger.