After 27 years with wrong man behind bars, cops have four new murder suspects
Officials say William Dillon, who was in jail for murder for 27 years, did not commit the crime. They now have four new suspects.
June 21st, 2011
09:22 AM ET

After 27 years with wrong man behind bars, cops have four new murder suspects

After an 18 month investigation the Brevard County Sheriff's Office in Florida announced it has solved a murder case in which a man was wrongly imprisoned for nearly three decades.

James Dvorak was found dead more than 30 years ago on Cordova Beach in Central Florida. For 27 of those years William Dillon maintained his innocence as he sat behind bars doing time for Dvorak's murder.

"Based on the information we have, the DNA evidence, some witness statements and some other information all appearances are [Dillon] was not involved in the beating death of Mr. Dvorak," Brevard County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Lt. Todd Goodyear said.

The DNA testing of evidence that helped gain Dillon's release from prison in 2008 also helped lead the sheriff's office to four new suspects. The suspects have not been charged but the case has been handed over to the prosecutor’s office.

"It's a little bit different to put your suspects out before you arrest them," Goodyear said.

He says with the focus off of Dillon the sheriff's office hopes to find more witnesses to "fill in some of the blanks."

Although Dillon says he is "extremely glad" that the sheriff's office found out who committed the crime, he still has a heavy heart.

"It hurts me down deep in my soul," Dillon said, "because I have been dealing with this for 30 years."

Man spends 27 years wrongly imprisoned writing songs

Goodyear says over those 30 years investigative tools have changed.

"We have the advantage of one thing they didn't," Goodyear said. "Science. And that has been very helpful in this."

As the sheriff's office continues to investigate those they say are responsible for Dvorak's death, the man who was originally convicted of the crime is still trying to rebuild his life.

Dillon plans to do this by using the songs he wrote while wrongly incarcerated. On August 16 Dillon's CD "Black Robes and Lawyers" will be released.

The title song starts off with Dillon saying, "I was arrested for murder on August 26, 1981, for a crime I didn't commit."

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Filed under: Crime • Justice
soundoff (370 Responses)
  1. Ed

    I would love to hear what the arresting cops from 27 years ago have to say about this grave error?

    June 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Harry Bolzack

      Knowing police officers, they probably believe that this is the right guy. Every met an LEO who would admit being wrong?

      June 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • pete

      The officers arrested a suspect in a crime. It isn't up to them whether he was judged quilty by a jury or not. Investigative technology has changed dramatically over the years. You just use this as an opportunity to bash the police. Funny how people hate the police until they need them, then they cry like a baby because they don't think they are doing enough for them.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • nick

      Whoa there, police officers are not the accusers, they are the doers. They follow orders from the chief who issues the warrant who gets the warrant from evidence in CSI.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • sheppard

      what a n asinine remark...

      June 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • stefan

      Im sure the cops feel bad, but don't lay it on the cops. Clearly they had witness statements that were later recanted and with the lack of DNA, they went with the wrong man. If anyone is to blame its the DA's office for not reopening the case when the stories changed and the system for not responding to it.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Theresa

      In regards to those saying the police should not be accountable, I disagree.
      I have a family member who was attacked in their sleep & beaten by an intruder. The detectives in the case had pressure to find the attacker (this was the 3rd attack in an otherwise 'safe' neighborhood & town), so they decided it was my boyfriend (I was 18 & living with him). Even though we had a tight alibi, even though the person attacked described their attacker as a full 6 inches shorter than my boyfriend, they insisted he did it, & followed us every day. It was ludicrous & a waste of time. We were questioned over & over. They never found the person who committed the crime.
      Thankfully, they also had no evidence. They just wanted an easy fix.
      This was 22 years ago. Not all officers of the law are that ignorant, but some are. And for that reason, there are many, Many false arrests.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugo

      Throwing out the "grave error" editorial, I'd still love to hear from the cops to find out why this happened. If we know why it happened, perhaps we can change policy to prevent it from happening again.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. american citizen

    @ Crookedarm- the reason he isn't getting $50,000 a year for every year in jail is because he was caught doing some drug (marijuana, don't recall actually.. it was some drug) and Florida has a rule about if you were a criminal prior to being arrested, imprisoned and you are locked up for years and years. Bottom line about that law is that it makes him ineligible to the money he would be due otherwise. That Law is plain wrong and needs to be changed.

    June 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • PennyNot

      Why is that law wrong, if he broke the law making him more likely to be suspected of another crime why should he be paid because it happened? Don't know the case but you are saying it's wrong to not pay someone because they chose to break one law and got caught up in another crime because of it. Florida has one of the harsher sentencing law systems, any criminal should know that.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • unowhoitsme

      "Pennynot" – Don't you think it's "convenient" for the courts to "blame" a man that has a criminal record, because if they are indeed wrong, they won't have to pay that innocent criminal anything. Feel free the change places with him; I'm sure you wouldn't mind giving up 30 years of your life.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hades

      Penny.. his prior issues were not connected at all to this charge. They took 3 decades from this man, they should pay him for it.

      Lets look.. have you ever gotten a parking ticket or speeded? Ok.. wel... a car is stolen and your blamed for it and spend time in jail. They find you innocent a year later and say "oophs well.. go free" In the meantime you lost your job, your wife or husband may have left you, and you missed a year of your kids life.

      Not really fair is it. Even giving you 50k wouldnt make up for it.
      Multiply that by 27

      June 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      @ pennynot , so your saying this guy sitting on the beach smoking a joint gets arrested for a murder he did not commit spends 27 years locked up , yet deserves no compensation for the lost 27 years because he was smoking a joint on the beach ? what an idiot you are !!!

      June 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • JAM

      He received $810K for being wrongly incarcerated. http://www.flsenate.gov/Media/PressRelease/Show/Senators/2010-2012/District26/PressRelease/PressRelease2011050416462245

      June 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • JAM

      @ american citizen
      forgot to add that you are a FDA!

      June 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • novajosh

      Relax everyone. I'm sure PennyNot is playing devil's advocate. No one can really be that stupid to believe that this guy should not be compensated for his time spent in jail.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tom Leykis

    Law enforcement has steadily become the enemy of the people.

    June 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Vezalo

      How? By arresting a man on orders from a judge? By putting him on trial by a jury of his peers? The justice system failed, not the police officer who was following orders.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • jorge washinsen

      Could be more people are turning to crime.Look at the number of prisons now, compared to 60 years ago.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Anthony

    Why does it take DNA so long. Did someone forget to submit this evidence?

    June 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • pete

      They didn't have DNA testing back then you idiot!!!
      How old are you anyway, 10?

      June 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hank

      Yo, Pete, relax...breathe. I believe that this person was inquiring as to why it took so long from the time DNA WAS available and the actual test. Sometimes people are confused and that's okay. No need to question other people's intelligance when you are confused.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugo

      Pete, why the attack? Do you even know the question was intended as you interpreted it?

      June 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DHag

    You might want to check that "Cordova Beach". Um, no such place in Central Florida, or Brevard County. Cordova Beach is in British Columbia. Maybe you are referring to Canova Beach, a small unincorporated community at the east end of the Eau Gallie Causeway, near Melbourne, Fl. This is the area directly south of Indian Harbor Beach, Fl.

    June 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. BE

    If they have DNA evidence, how come they still have 4 suspects? Is it very easy to identify with DNA? My understanding is DNA is very accurate, and no two DNAs are alike. Am I wrong?

    June 21, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • pete

      Yes...

      June 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • LJ

      Almost right, identical twins / triplets / quadruplets have identical DNA. Furthermore, if they don't have the complete, or mostly complete, DNA sequence (degradation between 81 and when the DNA was sequenced) they can't narrow it down to just one person.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. joey

    ooops, sorry. death penalty, ooops sorry, to his mother, heres a check.

    June 21, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Lester Nieves

    Innocent people get convicted every day. People who think the police care, need to stop drinking the "man's" kool-aid. It is a win at all costs mentality. In the military there is a saying that the first thing to go when a battle starts is the battle plan, in a criminal case it is the truth. The system is very tilted towards the prosecution/police and if it is your word versus the police, you better have a video. The police know that the district attorneys will protect them, in fact, in some states, district attorneys are law enforcement under the statute. You or I lie and we get smoked, cops lie and they can go have a smoke.

    June 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • sheppard

      and guilty get off every day – OJ come to mind? You sound as if you've had a LOT of experience with the legal system...

      June 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • BE

      I used to admire cops, thinking they stand for justice and truth and they have morals. Not anymore. Cases like this are countless. And who is there to care? Nobody.

      The cops arrested the wrong guy did not, obviously. I just wondered how on early they convicted him. What did the jurors do? Were they asleep during the trial?

      June 21, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mick

      AMEN!!!!!

      June 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. aacon

    Glad to see him finally cleared.Hope his music career makes him a fortune.

    June 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. satana

    All the best william. Everyone gets what they deserve and those involved with your conviction will get theirs.

    June 21, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. rodney roberts

    What a horrible crime to the original victim and his loved ones. And what a horrible crime was committed upon this innocent man by overzealous prosecutors and law officials. (They aren't law enforcement when their only goal is to convict.) Please remember that our forefathers instilled a presumption of innocence for a reason. That reason still exists because of officials and media who are only looking for a conviction.

    June 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Larry

    When the wrong person is imprisoned by an ambitious prosecutor, and his innocence is proven, the real criminal, the prosecutor, should be disbarred immediately and permanently. this will send a clear message to those wanting only a conviction.

    June 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mick

      AMEN!!!

      June 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaveNYUSA

      Should also have to do, TO THE SECOND, the same time the falsely accused had to endure.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DaveNYUSA

    nick

    Whoa there, police officers are not the accusers, they are the doers. They follow orders from the chief who issues the warrant who gets the warrant from evidence in CSI.

    Nick: It is asssholes like you that become cops. When have you EVER heard of ANY cop issuing a warrant? That is a judge's duty, Einstein.

    June 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. jorge washinsen

    Things have changed.30 years ago the witnesses and jurors probably swore to tell the truth and nothing but the truth from a bible that said we all sprung from two people. We should have the same DNA but now we know different.

    June 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. novajosh

    I wonder if it was "eyewitness" testimony that put this guy behind bars. The Innocence Project will tell anyone that eyewitness testimony is usually wrong. This whole story is sad.

    June 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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