The True Story Of The First Death Row Inmate
The True Story Of The First Death Row Inmate Exonerated By DNA was written by Tim Junkin in 2004. Tim is a lawyer and an award winning novelist, having many other books. This book is a true story about Kirk Bloodsworth who was wrongly accused of a child’s rape and murder and put in jail for it. There he sat an innocent man for nine years of his life, just because a few people said he looked kind of like the murderer or so they thought.
This book proves many points; for parents it is to watch your children, you never know where they might be or who they might be with, and for everyone else it is not to take things for granted, you never know when something like this could happen to you. Mistakes happen every day in court, everywhere. Bloodsworth was just like me and you and never thought anything like this would ever happen to him, but all it takes is one person to accuse you and that could be the end of it.
Tim Junkin heard about Kirks story and immediately called him up to get his approval to write about it. He knew it would be a great book that everyone of all ages would love to read. This book is suspenseful, heart wrenching, and has an ending that no one could ever imagine. Tim set out to inform the world about this amazing trial and error case that has been going on for 20 years and has finally been solved.
I had never heard of this book or this trial. It was amazing to me that it took so long to find a killer, when all along the evidence was right there, but no one tested it. This all started right before I was born and just ended now that I am 20. It’s unbelievable how the court system and legal justice system works, and that it took an innocent man who wasn’t even a police officer of homicide detective to figure out who the killer was.
It all started on Wednesday, July 25, 1984 when a nine year old girl, Dawn Venice Hamilton, went out like any other day to play with her friends. Looking for her friend Lisa, she went down to Bethke’s Pond. Lisa was not there but two boys she knew, Christian Shipley, ten and Jackie Poling, seven, were there fishing. Dawn stopped to talk to them and to look at the turtle they had caught. A man approached the kids and asked them what they were doing. Dawn told him she was searching for her friend Lisa. The man then told her that he was playing hide-and-seek with Lisa and asked her to help him look for her. Little did anyone know this would be the last time they would see Dawn.
When Dawn failed to return home that evening, Elinor Helmick, who was watching over her, went searching. After a while she called the police in to help. A man named Richard Gray offered to help and spotted her clothes up in a tree, and then her body about 25 feet from her clothes. There she laid naked from the waste down, a stick protruding about six inches from her vagina, her face bloody, foot prints embedded on the back of her neck, and her purse still slung across her shoulder. A piece of cement found near the body was bloody and was suspected to be the murder weapon.
The Fontana Village Police questioned Christian Shipley and Jackie Poling, seeing as though they were the last two people to see Dawn, and to see her with the man who suspectedly killed her. Chris, ten, remembered the man to be a white male, six feet five inches, slim to medium build, dirty blond, very curly hair with a light brown mustache and tanned skin. He said he was wearing an Ocean Pacific short sleeved shirt with three stripes around the upper chest, tan shorts, calf length socks and tennis shoes. The police drew up a composite of the man Chris described and then brought in Jackie, seven, and questioned him about the man seen at the pond. Jackie said he looked between twenty and thirty, six feet tall, skinny, with light brown curly hair, wearing tan shorts and a tan shirt also. They showed Jackie the composite drawn up by the description Chris gave and he agreed it looked close enough to the man seen at the pond that day. The police questioned many residents among the neighborhood to see if they had seen any suspicious people around that day or previous days. Everyone had a different story and different descriptions.
Kirk Bloodsworth was a young man whose wife had some problems and fled to her mothers’ house in Baltimore. Kirk couldn’t stand being away from her, hitchhiked up there with a ten and some change in his pocket and just the clothes on his back. He was there for a month when he and Wanda, his wife, got into an argument about money and work. Kirk, fed up with their fighting walked to his workplace and told his boss he was sick and wanted his paycheck. He then walked to the mall where he cashed his check and began to then hitchhike home. Kirk called Birdie, Wanda’s mother, and told her that he had left and would not be returning. Wanda filed a missing persons report with the local police in Baltimore County, listing Kirk Bloodsworth as mysteriously gone and having unknown whereabouts.
Kirk Bloodsworth did not fit the composite profile, he was twenty three, red hair, mutton chop side burns and weighed over 200 pounds, but yet he was arrested on the account of first-degree murder for Dawn Hamilton. He went to court where everyone said “Yes! Yes! That’s him.” The jury wanted to put him on death row but the case got overturned due to a man seen in a psyche hospital wearing the same clothes as the murderer and talking about a problem he had with a little girl. That being overlooked Kirk was not put on death row but given two life sentences. He thought he would spend the rest of his life in jail.
Knowing he was innocent Kirk wrote every day to a different person describing his story telling them of his innocence hoping one day that someone would listen and help him. One day his dreams came true when Bob Morin a very prestigious lawyer came to his rescue. Kirk had read numerous books while in prison, majority of them being law books and newly written and discovered DNA books. Bob did everything he could to help Kirk, including retrieving the panties of Dawn Hamilton. Back in 1984 when Kirk received his sentencing there was not such advanced DNA technology.
In 1993 Bob had Dawns panties re-observed to find a quarter size of semen on her panties, and thanks to newly discovered DNA testing they proved that the semen on her panties was not Kirk Bloodsworths. Kirk was then released from prison and thought life would be great, he was free, but little did he know that people still believed that it was him who committed this horrific crime. Even though tests proved it was not him, the people in Baltimore still questioned his innocence. People would leave notes on his truck saying “child murderer” or people walking by would yell at him “child killer.” Kirk was not content with just being free from prison; he wanted whoever did this to pay the price he began to pay for what he had not done.
For ten years Kirk tried to convince the prosecutors to take the DNA and put it into the county database or national database to determine who the true killer was. It wasn’t until September 2003 that they finally ran the tests and found out who the true killer was. A man who lived right below Bloodsworth in the county jail, a man who had been convicted of child molestation, and released, a man named Kimberly Shay Ruffner.
Tim Junkin writes this book as a dramatic story of a crime, a police investigation, the prosecution and the defense of Kirk Bloodsworth. Except for some of the legalities this book was an easy read. It was very straight forward and didn’t have you second guessing everything.
The True Story Of The First Death Row Inmate Exonerated By DNA had many strong points. Such as the title say’s this is a true story. Junkin wrote so that it almost feels as this is someone you know or something you could possibly imagine happening. He wants you to feel what Kirk Bloodsworth went through, from being a normal man to being tried and convicted of a horrific murder. When Junkin talks about the murder he is very detailed, which paints a picture for the reader, not that it was a very pretty picture. A strong and weak point I feel is how he describes every thing about everyone, very detailed. I liked that because it really made me you see what was going on. I did not like that however because some of it seemed pointless and to much reading.
I am not a big reader and it did take me some time to read this book, but in the end it was worth it. It was not something that I would have thought I would not have enjoyed reading like I did. A very strong key point in this book is that it is a true story, while reading it you have to realize this actually happened. It’s scary.
This book did not have many weak points. One thing I think however was weak, or sad, is how the people in the court cheered when he was to be put on death row, and when released from jail how they treated him. He is a human being and an innocent man.
Kirk Bloodsworth’s story had its highs and its lows. It was like reading a mystery book. Junkin would start out with telling you something then you would think you would get to the conclusion of that part but then he would begin to tell you a new story that somehow connected everything together.
Bloodsworth’s story contributed to sociology today by letting everyone know that this stuff is out there in the real world. We talked about death row in class and I found it pretty interesting. We had that guy come talk to us about his grandmother being killed and that fifteen year old girl being put on death row. This kind of thing happens everyday, but until it happens to you, it’s like you never want to realize it’s really out there.
Get help with your homework
We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails