Kansas
Victims of the State

3 Cases

Neosho County, KS 

Willie Sell

Mar 8, 1886

Willie Sell was convicted of murdering his parents, brother, and sister. In the early morning hours of March 8, 1886, 16-year-old Willie banged on the door of a neighbor, Robert Mendell, talking hysterically and incoherently. Mendell did not understand Willie's story, but had caught the words, “blood, murder and hatchet.” Mendell accompanied Willie back to his family's two-room house. On the floor lay the bodies of Willie's father, James W. Sell, a schoolteacher and farmer, and Willie's mother, Susan. In the corner, still in her bed, was Willie's teenage sister, Ina. Their skulls had been beaten with a hatchet and their throats had been cut. The floor was slick with blood. In an adjoining room, where Willie had been sleeping, was the body of Willie's brother, Watta Sell, 19, who was killed in the same manner as the other members of his family.
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Riley County, KS 

Eddie James Lowery

July 26, 1981 (Ogden)

Eddie James Lowery was convicted of raping a 74-year-old Ogden woman in her home. The assailant prevented the victim from seeing him. In the same early morning hours as the rape, Lowery happened to have an automobile accident near the victim's house. He was denied his request for a lawyer and questioned all day using “coercive strong-arm tactics.” Lowery made a confession, which he soon recanted. His first trial ended in a hung jury, but he was convicted on retrial. Lowery served 10 years of his sentence and after release paid for DNA tests which exonerated him in 2003.  (IP) (KS Collegian)  [10/05]

Shawnee County, KS 

Joe Jones

Aug 24, 1985 (Topeka)

Joe C. Jones was convicted of rape. The victim identified another man as her rapist when presented with a photo array but identified Jones in person. Jones and the victim were of different races and were at the same nightclub on the night of the attack. The prosecution presented a pair of jeans found at Jones's house that were similar to those worn by the rapist. An employee of a store testified that Jones was in the store at the time of the attack, and was wearing different clothing than the rapist allegedly wore. Jones was barred from using his sexual orientation as a defense. DNA tests exonerated Jones in 1992.  (IP) (CBJ)  [10/05]