In the United States, a woman who served 43 years for a crime she did not commit will be released (6 photos)

21 June 2024

Sandra Hemme was convicted of murdering 31-year-old library worker Patricia Jeschke in 1980. Last Friday, Judge Ryan Horsman noted that the 64-year-old Missouri woman was the victim of injustice, and that a now-deceased local police officer, against whom there was clear evidence, was never properly investigated.

"We just can't wait for Sandra to come home," said sister Joyce Anne Case.

This story began in November 1980, when Patricia did not show up for work. The concerned mother decided to check on her daughter and found her on the floor of the house in a pool of blood and with a knife under her head. The woman had no clothes, her hands were tied with a telephone cord, and tights were wrapped around her neck.

An investigation has begun. Sandra became a suspect when she showed up to her former nurse with a knife. A 21-year-old girl climbed into a closet and refused to leave; she was arrested.

Hemme suffered from a mental disorder and had been hearing voices since she was 12 years old. The girl was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where she had been admitted several times.

Investigators learned that she had been discharged from the same hospital on the day of the murder and suspected her of involvement. There was no convincing evidence or witnesses, as well as a motive for the crime.

Jane Pucher, Sandra's lawyer from the Innocence Project (which took up her case decades later), suggested that the murdered woman and the suspect had not even seen each other.

"Sandra's sentence was based solely on her confessions, obtained while she was under the influence of heavy drugs," the Innocence Project said.

“Virtually everything that was subjected to forensic examination excludes her guilt,” the judge said in the ruling.

The girl was interrogated at the hospital. Detectives noted that she appeared confused and could not understand their questions.

“Each time the police received statements from Ms. Hemme, they were radically different from the previous ones,” the lawyers commented.

“Even if I’m innocent, they want to put someone in jail to close the case. Let this all end, I’m tired,” Sandra wrote to her parents in a letter for Christmas 1980.

The following spring, Sandra pleaded guilty to the crime to avoid the death penalty.

Judge Ryan ruled that she made the confession while in a state of mental crisis and physical pain and it was "the only evidence linking Miss Hemme to the crime."

The court dropped the charges against Khemme, and she must be released within 30 days.

Police failed to investigate Officer Michael Holman despite having "substantial and objective" evidence against him. The officer was found with Patricia's earrings and her credit card, from which he tried to withdraw $630.43 on the same day the murdered woman was found.

Michael claimed that he found the credit card in his purse in a ditch.

In addition, strands of hair that matched his own were found at the crime scene. Several witnesses also reported seeing a police officer's pickup truck near the victim's home on the day of the murder.

"The officer was known for his criminal behavior, including theft from houses and stalking," the judge added.

As a result, the law enforcement officer was fired, and he died in 2015.

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