Brother’s suicide note helps free Kansas man

OSKALOOSA, Kan. (KSNT) — A Kansas man is free after spending 16 years behind bars for a murder his brother committed.

Floyd Bledsoe was serving a life sentence for killing his 14-year-old sister-in-law, Camille Arfmann. However, attorneys with the Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies at Kansas University released DNA evidence in late October showing semen found in Arfmann’s body likely belonged to Floyd’s brother, Tom Bledsoe.

Tom won’t serve any prison time after he was found dead from an apparent suicide inside his car in the parking lot of a Kansas Wal-Mart on November 9. Tom Bledsoe was found with a bag on his head and his left arm bandaged from what authorities say likely was a previous suicide attempt. Jefferson County captain of detectives Kirk Vernon does not believe Tom’s suicide was a coincidence. His rationale is supported by three suicide notes Tom left behind – one addressed to his wife, one to his parents, and one addressed to “whomever cares.”

From 2000, KSNT file
From 2000, KSNT file

“I killed Camille Arfmann on November 5, 1999,” Vernon read from one of Tom’s suicide note as he testified Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015.

Camille stepped off a school bus in Oskaloosa, on Nov. 5, 1999, and was never seen alive again. She was reported missing, but three days later, she was found dead from four gunshots wounds, including one in the back of the head.

In another sentence from Tom’s suicide note, he wrote: “I had sex with her, and killed her.” DNA evidence released more than a month before Tuesday’s hearing had proven Tom Bledeoe’s semen was found inside Camille, but it also found DNA from Floyd, Tom and Floyd’s father on the girl’s sock. In his note, Tom suggested his father’s DNA got on the girl’s clothes because they had sex on his parents’ bed.

Tom went on to confess he “freaked” when he realized Arfmann was only 14. He then drove her out to a ditch not far from the house he lived in with his parents, and begged her not to tell. Then he panicked, grabbed his gun, and pushed her to the ground, hoping just to threaten her. “When the gun went off behind her head, it was (an) accident. I didn’t mean to kill her,” the note read.

Although Vernon said Arfmann had been shot four times, investigators found only three spent shell casings. Authorities found the fourth casing an inch below ground after Tom Bledsoe directed them to it in one of his suicide notes, complete with a diagram of its location.

One of the last things Tom included in the note was a final confession: “Floyd S. Bledsoe is innocent, man. Thomas E. Bledsoe is the guilty one.”

Wearing a flannel shirts and jeans, Floyd Bledsoe walked out of the Jefferson County Courthouse with no handcuffs and a posse of attorneys that helped him finally get justice. When asked of his plans now that he is a free man, he responded, “I’m ready to move beyond the last 16 (years). … I can’t do anything about the past. All I can do is change the future.”

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