A Kansas man convicted of a murder is now free after spending 15 years in prison. His release occurred after his older brother took responsibility for the crime in his suicide note.
Kansas 2nd District Chief Judge Gary Nafziger vacated 39-year-old Floyd Bledsoe’s conviction Dec. 8 in Jefferson County, NBC News reports.
Bledsoe was convicted in 2000 of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated indecent liberties in the shooting death of a 14-year-old girl.
Camille Arfmann was found with four gunshot wounds in her body, under a pile of trash, on Nov. 8, 1999.
Floyd Bledsoe’s older brother, Tom Bledsoe, reportedly confessed to the crime even before the girl’s body was found. According to court documents, Tom later recanted and eventually testified against Floyd at his brother’s trial, telling jurors that Floyd had initially threatened to disclose embarrassing information about him if he didn’t take responsibility for the murder.
But Tom committed suicide in November 2015, leaving behind three notes in which he took responsibility for the murder.
In the first note, addressed to Tom’s wife, he apologized for the suicide, writing: “I really loved you but I cannot go on. It’s tearing me up inside,” according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.
In a note addressed to his parents, Tom wrote, “Floyd is innocent” and asked them to “please tell Floyd I am sorry.”
The third note addressed to “whomever cares” explained how Arfmann died and why. He said he had sex with Arfmann in his parents’ home.
“I found out she is 14 and I freaked out,” he wrote.
He said he grabbed a 9mm handgun and pushed her to the ground to scare her and accidentally shot her in the back of the head.
“I raped and murdered a 14-year-old girl,” the note read.
It did not explain why he shot Arfmann three more times.
Det. Kirk Vernon read the letters aloud in court Dec. 8, according to The Capital-Journal.
The third letter provided details about Arfmann’s death that only the killer could have known, investigators said, according to NBC.
There was also new DNA evidence, recently released by the Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies at Kansas University, that showed the semen found inside Arfmann’s body likely came from Tom, not Floyd.
Tom was found dead inside his vehicle in a Walmart parking lot after news of the DNA evidence against him broke, according to the The Capital-Journal.
“It's been a long time,” Floyd said after his convictions were vacated, according to NBC. “I just want to take everything slow and take it all in.”
“I'm ready to move beyond the last 15, 16 years,” he told reporters, according to The Capital-Journal, adding that he would like to do “something peaceful.”