KANSAS CITY, Kan. (CN) — A man who spent 15 years in prison for a murder his brother committed sued the Kansas officials he says framed him for the murder.
Floyd S. Bledsoe sued former Jefferson County Attorney Jim Vanderbilt, former Sheriff Roy Dunnaway, current sheriff and-then Undersheriff Jeffrey Herrig, other sheriff's officers and Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents on Wednesday in Federal Court.
Bledsoe spent 15 years in prison for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Camille Arfmann, until DNA evidence showed his brother, Tom, was the killer.
Bledsoe claims the defendants intentionally hid evidence, including multiple confessions from his brother.
Tom Bledsoe killed himself shortly after the DNA evidence vindicated Floyd. He left a series of suicide notes, according to the lawsuit, one of which said: "I sent an innocent man to prison. The Jefferson County police and county attorney Jim Vanderbelt made me do it. I was told by Vanderbelt to keep my mouth shut. Now I am going to set thing right.
"I killed Camille Arfmann on November 5, 1999. I had sex with her and killed her. ... I drove up to the ditch where the family dump trash and tried to convince her not to tell. ... I went to my truck and got my 9mm gun that was behind my seat and pushed her to the ground to try to scare her, but it failed with the gun went off behind her head. ... I as well might go ahead and say it I raped and murdered a 14 year girl. I tried telling the truth but no one would listen. I was told to keep my mouth shut. It tore me up doing it. I would ask for forgiveness, but I know none will come. Not even from God.
"Floyd S Bledsoe is innocent man.
"Tom E Bledsoe is the guilty one."
One of Floyd Bledsoe's attorneys, Russell Ainsworth, called it the worst prosecutorial misconduct he's ever seen.
"One detective wrote a 37-page police report detailing every action he did and left out every confession that Tom Bledsoe made," Ainsworth said in an interview. "That's Homicide 101. If you have a confession it should be noted, but the fact that it is nowhere in the document is beyond suspicious."
The lawsuit states that investigators ignored Tom's history of troubling sexual behavior, which included pursuing young girls.
Camille Arfmann disappeared on Nov. 5, 1999. Two days later, Floyd Bledsoe says, his brother admitted to the crime in messages to his Sunday school teacher and parents.
Later that night, Tom and his attorney Michael Hayes — also a defendant — led investigators to Camille's body.
"What we know is that Mike Hayes, who was involved at the beginning of the case representing Tom Bledsoe, told him that he would take Tom Bledsoe off the hot seat and put Floyd on it," Ainsworth said in the interview.
Floyd Bledsoe says investigators inexplicably turned their investigation toward him.
"Pursuant to defendants' scheme, Tom would recant his confession and instead claim that he had run into Floyd on Saturday, November 6th, at a roadside intersection; that Floyd had spontaneously confessed to the murder and provided Tom with extensive details about the crime; and that Floyd had persuaded Tom to take the blame by threatening to expose Tom's history of viewing X-rated movies, masturbating, and attempting to have sex with a dog," the complaint states.
Aside from fabricating Tom's testimony, Floyd Bledsoe says, the defendants withheld exonerating evidence. Along with withholding Tom's multiple confessions, he says, they withheld other crucial statements Tom made.
"For example, defendant Jim Woods and other defendant officers purposefully withheld their documentation of Tom's detailed confession that he had tried to have sex with Camille in his truck, that she had laughed, and that he had then shot her," the complaint states.
Floyd says they also withheld Tom's statements about the crime scene and that he had made sexual advances to Camille a few weeks before she disappeared. He says they withheld physical evidence proving that Tom's gun was the murder weapon and fabricated polygraph results.
The lawsuit does not mention the defendants' motives for framing Floyd Bledsoe.
"As far as why they would frame Floyd for this, that's why Floyd brought forth this action," Ainsworth said, "not only to hold these people accountable, but to find out why."
Sheriff Herrig said in an email that his office has no comment.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigations did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Floyd Bledsoe seeks punitive damages for, among other things, being deprived of the opportunity of raising his two boys and other family events and social opportunities.
"One of Floyd's motives for bringing this lawsuit is that by exposing the misconduct and by holding these officials accountable is that no one ends up in the nightmare he had suffered as an innocent man spending 15 years in prison," Ainsworth said.
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