Since embarking on this wrongful conviction book project in January of 2014, A FAILURE OF JUSTICE underwent multiple revisions. One of my early drafts contained a curious older gentleman named Earl. He grew up in Nebraska, graduated from the University of Nebraska but went to prison for an underage sodomy charge.
“I was busted in Lincoln for a man lying to me about his age in 1953 for a homosexual act, and I did thirteen months in the men’s reformatory, which turned my life around to make a better man out of me with dynamic energy and made a whiz bang in the automobile business out of me out West,” Earl stated during a 1985 police interview.
As the Helen Wilson murder remained unsolved for more than ten months, Earl arranged for a private meeting with two detectives assigned to the case, one from the Nebraska State Patrol and the other from the Lincoln Police Department. “I want to get the ransom, and I’ll probably donate that to charity or most of it for some good cause,” Earl declared.
During the interview, Earl openly speculated how multiple people were involved in the cold-blooded killing of Mrs. Helen Wilson, which appeared to be the work of a sexual pervert, he pointed out. “But you want to remember one thing, gentlemen. Two out of three people walking around in Beatrice are not playing with a full deck. I think that you’re probably aware of that, and the other third, as the British would say, are dumb as dishwater.”
During his interview, Earl also claimed Helen Wilson’s death was tied to a black market underworld involved with prescription medications. “I’m told by other sources … that this Helen Wilson was involved with procurement of drug prescriptions for social people and friends of hers in the Beatrice and surrounding area.”
Earl also threw out another crazy theory that Helen Wilson’s homicide’s probe went cold because the killer was a local homosexual acquainted with some police officers in that same town who were rumored to be gay. “The fact is, the killing of Helen Wilson is a shielded, I feel, and protected source of information that has been, I would say, either covered up or withdrawn or disposed of from long investigation files in the Beatrice law enforcement agency.”
MY TAKE: Virtually every unsolved homicide investigation in a small town involves one or more misguided crack pots. Although Earl was flamboyant, chatty and colorful, I just could not convince myself that his commentary added value to the story line.
Let’s not forget Helen Wilson was truly a tragic murder victim. There was absolutely no shred of evidence pointing to the notion she somehow sold medications on the black market out of her apartment. This rumor or suggestion by the out of town informant was completely absurd.