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. schmit

    Hey, I got an idea.. how about blogging about real news.. Like the Nebraska nuclear power plant emergency and the no-fly zone?

    June 21, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Gort01

      you dont consider a man, and American citizen, losing 27 years of his life due to a wrong conviction...newsworthy....

      June 21, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • TheMovieFan

      This is real news. Too many people are so gleeful that a person is convicted of a heinous crime that they don't even care if the person is guilty or not. Too many happily convict a person on their own based on their own "expert" evaluation of the tiniest of evidence given out by the media before a trial has even started never mind if it is over. So many on this site would have demanded this man be put to death quickly and would have complained about any appeals he would have brought up as being to costly and a waste of THEIR tax dollars.

      Now there is a report on this guy's innocence and you soil his story with a distraction.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris Honry

      Hey, how about we put you in jail for 27 years and then see if you think it's important?

      June 21, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Seggy

      Hey! I got an about you take your trolling to another website?

      June 21, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Tyokol

      Dullard! The Nebraska emergency was a minor glitch that was quickly corrected and that amounted to nothing, you ignorant fear monger!

      June 21, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • bdo1183

      I don't see comments like yours on the loads of crap stories that are here everyday such as all the celebrity news that nobody gives a rats ass about. I remember one a few months back somebody was moaning about not making enough money for mad men when she made 50k per episode. Gee lets see thats over 1 million per season for being an actress. Sure they work hard at what they do but so does every other human being on the planet that doesn't make 50k per year let alone in a week or two. Second off Stories like this while they do happen everyday are newsworthy not because the man spent that long in prison but because the real criminals were caught. While i do agree the stories you have mentioned need attention there are literally hundreds of stories that do not get attention from cnn or any of the other major news outlets. Mostly scientific breakthroughs and such. Is it cnn's fault? NO and here's why, You get better ratings if you talk about stupid crap like which celebrity is having a baby or who's cheating on who because the american public is consumed and i mean absolutely consumed with crap. I live in america and have all my life however i'm able to distinguish news from crap news. Most americans don't. Seriously what gets talked about around the water cooler is it murders caught, is it advances in medicine, is it a disaster waiting to happen, NO it's who won blah blah blah reality show which by the way folks little tip if you have to call something reality tv chances are it isn't.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • kire

      Here is a good idea for you, go make your own site and do what you want with it, don't come here and try to dictate what you think should be news...

      June 21, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Nixxter

      You lost me at the part where you said you had an idea... which seemed rather unlikely.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • HeyZues

      Umm, someone losing 27 years of their lives to a corrupt legal system, that very same legal system that YOU and I live under... Yeah, I would say something as minor as FREEDOM should make news.

      Stop being an asshat, and understand that the very same thing that this guy went through might come calling to your door or someone you love one day. Will you be so flippant when it happens?

      June 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jazzzzzzzz

    Dillon's life is ruined. No justice here. Hope he sues and wins millions.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • TheMovieFan

      I agree but unfortunately the anti-tax crowd would complain that it would be a waste of tax dollars and over those 27 years the state supported him with a luxurious jail cell, free meals, and cable TV.

      They'd probably want to bill him for those 27 years.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      What you may not realize is that proscecutors are almost always protected from law suits for wrongful incarcerations. Check out the facts on this – they literally get away with murder when the wrongfully accused is executed , or spends this much time in a tiny cage waiting to be killed.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • bdo1183

      He gets paid for the years he was in prison doesn't have to sue or generally works that way. Reason being is well people make mistakes and unfortunately sometimes you have to wait for technology to catch up to the mistakes in order to correct them.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ummyeah

      in unfortunate but unless there is evidence of some kind of conspiracy to have put him in jail or a cover up of evidence there is really no case. It just being a gross mistake is not enough to sue for money. There has to be some kind of malicious intent really. Only thing he can hope for is the state is willing to give him some money or assistance on their good will. It is sad, and at least he is getting his message out. This is very much newsworthy and something people should know that goes on. But hopefully with the advancements in science this kind of thing will happen much less.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. abby1

    It is a travesty that the wrong person was incarcerated and lost 27 years of his life and freedom. There is nothing that can make up for the 27 years that he was punished for a crime he did not committ.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. Riff*Raff

    I'm glad they found the real killers. This man-and his family-went thru hell for 27 years. He had exhausted all his appeals, and had to write his own legal papers requesting the court test the DNA evidence. His request was accepted by the courts on the last possible day before the time ran out. I like when the good guys win.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • HeyZues

      He didn't 'win' though. If justice had really been served, the DA wouldn't have taken his case to trial originally. THAT would have been the good guy winning.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Riff*Raff

      You're right, he didn't "win". No, justice wasn't served in this case. I am thankful he's out of that hellish prison existence. Hopefully, he can put his life back together and experience some happiness in his lifetime. Maybe his music will be his lifeline to a mass fortune and he'll be laughing all the way to the bank. One can hope anyway.

      June 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Desert Red

    The mental toughness that it must take to deal with this miscarriage that robbed him of his liberty is beyond my understanding. I think about all the things I've done in my life over the last 27 years and try to imagine how I could have survived missing that while being falsely imprisoned. That he found in his songs a way to avoid insanity is truly remarkable. I will be first in line to buy this CD if only to learn a little about how this kind of resilience is maintained over such a long period. Maybe the best payback for this man is actual "pay" back. I wish him well.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. CSnSC

    Horrifyingly common. Politicaly motivated prosecutors pushing for conviction numbers at all cost, oh well, hes probably a judge by now.

    June 21, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Reason

      Or perhaps a dedicated public servant doing the best he could with the evidence available at the time. People aren't perfect, and we don't bestow any supernatural powers or wisdom on our prosecutors or police officers when we task them with overwhelming responsibility. Unless you know that the prosecutor pushed this case through for his own political gain, don't suggest it.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • HeyZues

      Reason, Do you have proof of which you speak?

      i ask this as we have seen a huge number of exonerees in the last two years alone, and more than half were put in prison due to shoddy politically motivated DA's. I can think of none that were accused of being poor, well intentioned public servants; I have however seen several cases here in Texas alone where the DA's has been admonished (or the retired predecessor) for delivering evidence to the courts at the time that they knew was shoddy, mis-represented, or factually incorrect on its face.

      Enablers and apologists of corrupt District attorneys, such as yourself, are one of the largest causes for this system to continue its corrupt methods daily. Get educated, or stay ignorant; I only hope you don;t get caught up in something like this before your believe has been corrected.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reason

      HeyZeus, this prosecutor may well be the biggest slimeball on the planet. But I don't know. Neither does CSnSC. I have spent my entire adult life working in the judicial system, and have seen some horrible cases of corruption, and also some cases where imperfect people tried hard to do the right thing and got it wrong. I don't think it's fair to assume this particular prosecutor was motivated to railroad someone he thought could be innocent for political gain without any evidence to support it. That hardly makes me an enabler. Just someone who doesn't want to accuse anyone without cause. And isn't that what we're talking about?

      June 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • JLS639

      To Reason: I beg to differ. I ask why the DA ever brought him to court. He had no evidence. I repeat: he had NO evidence. I suspect the DA just wanted a conviction. Here is what passed for "evidence" in this case:

      The fact that Dillon knew about the murder when it had been in local newspapers for almost a week. Obviously anyone who reads newspapers is shifty.

      A bloodhound associating a object touched by Dillon with the killer's shirt. You know those bloodhounds and there statistically slightly greater than random chance to make associations when you offer them a treat are really convincing.

      The testimony of a witness who first gave a description of the killer that did not match Dillon and then identified Dillon. "Yeah, he was tall, burly man. That's him! The skinny shorty over there!"

      A jailhouse snitch getting out a few years early by saying DIllon bragged about the killing, while none of the other inmates present at the time remembered Dillon's bragging. If he was a good enough liar to fool the police, he wouldn't be in prison, would he?

      The eyewitness testimony of a woman who did not witness the crime. Sounds contradictory, huh? She made this claim after being threatened with charges of accessory to murder if she didn't accuse Dillon. The officer in question also coerced her into having s-ex.

      Oh, no, the prosecutor obviously tried as hard as he could to avoid convicting an innocent man...

      June 21, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. justice matters

    William Dillon is a true American Hero. There should be a Federal Investigation into the people who framed him and are still trying to smear him. I hope everyone buys his CD when it comes out and it goes to the top of the charts! His single "Black Robes and Lawyers" is on I-tunes and deserves a Grammy!

    June 21, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. woodrow

    What a terrible commentary on our legal system, pinning crimes on innocent people.

    June 21, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. TheMovieFan

    Folks, read the story with the link "Man spends 27 years wrongly imprisoned writing songs" right towards the middle of the article. I wasn't aware that Florida was that sc*mmy.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. William Dillon

    Through the shadows of torture and despair I traveled to reach the daylight! A journey I would not willingly take again.
    With the life I have left I choose to be a positive force in Wrongful Convictions as I well know there are many more Innocence inprisoned by zealous officals, such as Gary Bennett in Florida who is also one of the cases of the people
    that took my life from me so young. I thank all those who relalize that this can and does happen. And to those who don't believe that it does I pray that day never comes for you to be forced to believe. I'm Free now and the world is a beautiful place. William M. Dillon

    June 21, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • budman

      I'm sorry that it took 27 years for the truth to come out and for the fact that you lost 27 years you can never regain. I know the future, whatever it holds, will be much brighter. Good luck, I will say a prayer for you.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      William, I am so glad to hear of your release and to know that you will be working hard to help others in your unbelievable situation! I hope you are able to truly enjoy the next 27+ years of freedom!! Happy first day of summer and may all your days be sunny going forward!

      June 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Lindsay

      William, what you've suffered through is terrible, and I hope your story takes you far. You are in my (and many others') heart and prayers.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mary Mary

    It's a good thing he wasn't in Texas, they would have fried him a long time ago! Makes you really think about the Death Penalty, eh?

    June 21, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Amen, Mary!

      Reminds me of an old song my mom listened to, talking about "killing people to show that killing people is wrong". In many cases, we now see that it is just out right murder... or could have been with this man's life if there were a death penalty.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • TheMovieFan

      If he had been wrongfully executed, it would have been an acceptable price that too many would be willing to let William Dillion pay...justified in their "minds" because he was arrested for possessing drugs once.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Thoresen

      This is why capital punishment is wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      June 21, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. Josh

    The justice system has never worked... If someone is telling the truth and the prosecution pulls out all the stops to convict someone in the name of "justice" or doing their "duty" and a jury has to flip a coin or argue whether there is reasonable doubt... then justice isn't working. This mans life was and is worth more than that.... more than a jury or judge making a decision based on information that they were "allowed" to hear or that was permissible in court. It's all rubbish and our justice system should be ashamed!

    On that note... too many laws has created too many criminals and we have too many prisoners creating a system that costs way too much. Treat the cause not the symptoms people.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  13. Corvus1

    Well since there's sooooo many innocent people in prison, we need to do away with the prison system! Isn't that the same logic anti death penalty freaks use? Oh, wait, this guy's still alive so everything's hunky-dorey. His life isn't ruined or anything like that.

    Seriously though: I'm thrilled this man has been exonerated. Our justice system su cks rocks and is in dire need of an overhaul.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Keith B

      No not ruined they just stole 27 years from him.. .your an idiot

      June 21, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • lsdkfjal;

      Unless you are feeling god-like today and can resurrect dead people, there is no remedy for an execution. There is (though highly inadequate) for wrongful incarceration.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • HeyZues

      No Corvis, what we need to do is do away with the immunity from prosecution that DA's and ADA's have. That by itself will stop a great number of wrongfully prosecuted cases from ever going to trial.

      If prosecutors know they might actually stand before the court as a defendant because they pushed a known questionable case, they might take a bit longer to investigate if the facts are correct or fudged.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • JLS639

      All this hyperbole and the only thing close to a serious suggestion is to do away with immunity for wrongful convictions. The Innocence Project has proposed ideas about how to deal with these situations. You ought to look into what they say about how to prevent innocent people from going to prison or being executed.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Leevitalone

    And that, readers, is why capital punishment is wrong, wrong, wrong!!!!

    June 21, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris Honry

      I agree- if only one innocent person is murdered by a mistaken system it is too much.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. Keith B

    That's Brevard county for you, the most pathetic county in all of Florida. I knew a guy who was arrested 10 hours away from their and held for a month because some clerk didn't file a paper from four years earlier, and they scheduled a court date and sent the info to the wrong address. ...they are incompetent and quick to lock people up for the most petty crimes to increase stats to demand state money for their Texas style incarceration system.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Well yeah! Crime is a money maker! That is why we have too many laws and not enough protection. It should be illegal for States to generate revenue this way. It is insanity to set such negative goals. We create a criminal society when we expect a criminal society.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
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