Society

Bill Macumber, 77, Released from Jail After Being Framed by Ex-Wife for Double Murder 37 Years Ago

| by Michael Allen

Bill Macumber, 77, who was jailed for 37 years for murdering a young couple, was released from prison this week because his ex-wife may have lied about his confession and framed him with planted evidence during their divorce.

Joyce Sterrenberg and Tim McKillop were found shot dead next to their car in the Arizona desert in 1962, reports the Daily Mail.

In 1974, Macumber's wife, Carol Kempfert, told her bosses at the Maricopa County sheriff's office that her husband had confessed to the killings.

In 1975, Carol Kempfert, now Macumber's ex-wife, testified at his trial that that Macumber had come home covered in blood on May 24, 1962 and confessed to the crime.

Macumber was convicted and sentenced to life. After a re-trial in 1977, he was found guilty again.

In 2003, Macumber's son Ron Kempfert received a call from Larry Hammond of the Arizona Justice Project, which works to free prisoners who it believes have been wrongly convicted.

Ron Kempfert, who believed his dad to be guilty, told ABC News: "[Hammond] said, ''I don't know how to tell you this, there is no way to tell you this, we know your father, we think your father is innocent, and we're pretty sure your mom framed him for it.'"

The Arizona Justice Project said that Carol Kempfert had access to evidence from the case and was also taking a class in fingerprint lifting while working for the sheriff's office.

Additionally, a man named Ernesto Valenzuela had allegedly confessed three times to committing the murders. Valenzuela died in 1973, but his confession was not allowed as evidence in the trials.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer denied Macumber's clemency plea in 2009, but a hearing was granted in 2011.

The judge at the hearing said there was not enough evidence for Macumber to be tried a third time, but if said if Macumber agreed to change his plea from 'not guilty' to' no contest,' he would be released.

Macumber did so and was released a year later. This week, as he left jail, Macumber was greeted by his son Ron Kempfert.