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. happyb

    I live in FL and I can tell you that the law passed that is prohibiting Mr. Dillon from receiving compensation was passed so that FL doesn't have to pay the wrongfully convicted. They passed the bill with the hope and belief that anyone who has been proven innocent and served a significant amount of time wrongfully imprisoned, upon release could not compile them to pay for their years lost since most would hopefully or probably have a prior criminal record thus not only stealing their liberties and life, but owing them nothing for the injustice. Any way they can get out of giving a wronged person what they are due, they find it and take it. They are very nasty and uncaring. Mr. Dillon I pray what you could not receive from the state of FL, you receive through your gift of song. When one door closes God always opens another one. Glad to see you walking through yours. Be blessed!!

    June 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andi

      The only thing more sickening than this man be locked up for nearly 30 years for a crime he didn't commit, is the state of Florida thinking they don't owe him squat. What an effed up mess they made of this man's life.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      reading that the state of Florida feels that they owe this man nothing for taking 27 years of his life away is disgusting. The state of Florida is pathetic. no long will my dollar go to that state for aid...

      June 21, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marion

      I hope the residents stand up and protest for this man to be paid for his stolen life. I doubt they will though because they also will not want to be paying him any money. It's easy to blame politicians, but residents have voices and feet- use them.

      June 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • choopychups

      Wait a second...Bush in Texas, sham courts, record numbers of prisoners being freed on DNA evidence. Bush in FL, no compensation for prisoners wrongly convicted. It runs in the family, man!

      June 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AAG

    maybe our cops, courts, and jurors should do more protecting and investigating, than arresting and convicting. there is innocent and there is guilty, sad to say in america its guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. that's why your handcuffed and thrown in a concrete cell while awaiting court, to prove your innocence! or to be found guilty, unless you got a couple thousand laying around to pay up for bond, while awaiting court, if it is granted. also more sad, if you do have a record, either small or major(misdemeanor, felony), you will be profiled and labeled a criminal by not only cops, courts, and some jurors, but also places of employment. its weird that the land of the free has the highest criminal and prison population in the world.The Patriot Act pretty much states were all criminals. have a nice day!

    June 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • sambo


      June 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dutspup

    the justice system is not just, its a game and a sick joke. Florida's buerocrates are a complete incompotent butt end of all jokes, this includes their new joke of a Governor. Count on Florida to ruin a national election, count on Florida to turn away a 700 mil check for a rail system, count on Florida to elect someone to the Governors office with absolutely no political experience whatsoever who happens to be a criminal himself, disgusting.

    June 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Concerned

    What this gentleman should do since he can't sue the state is sue all involved in investigating the crime whos testimonies and statements ended with him behind bars. If they are dead sue their next of kin. Go after the cops if you can't go after the legislature.

    June 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Righton

      How is it the fault of the relatives of the investigators? You people are crazy.

      June 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Riff*Raff

      He did, that's how he found the discrepancy. His ex-girlfriend was the key witness against him-said she saw him standing over the body, not a witness to the crime itself-that was the extent of the evidence used to convict him. She slept with the investigating officer during her ride home following her questioning at the police station. The judge and the prosecutor were aware of this and still allowed her to issue false testimony against Mr. Dillon. Years later, she recanted her testimony stating it was all untrue because she was told to say what she said. That still didn't overturn his conviction. After 25 years, on the advise of another inmate, he drafted his own request to have the DNA tested, in his own hand, without an atty. The state of FL accepted this request on the last possible day. FL knew he was there unlawfully, and they still kept him incarcerated for the max time that they could, without acknowledging any error.

      Dillon was almost killed his first week on prison. His mother didn't leave the house for a couple of years due to the shame of having a murderer for a son. The damage inflicted on this man and his family is criminal. Now he gets a pat on the back,an apology and told to have a good life! What if he didn't have a supportive family with the means to help him acclimate to the outside? Sorry for the rant-I just saw his interview a couple of weeks ago with Paula Zahn. It left a very bad taste in my mouth, and then seeing the update of the case today just reminded me of how screwed up our justice system can be.

      June 21, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. In America

    I'm frankly of the opinion that investigators and prosecutors guilty of convicting the wrong person for a capital crime should first pay any penalty award by the court (Florida's law of compensation should be repealed on the basis that any innocent civilian held and for to work for anyone without proper and appropriate compensation is to be considered a slave-owner and will jailed for a period no less of that of life without the possibility of parole (that would mean the officials of every municipality, county, town, BURG, village and any redneck hot spot from the Panhandle to Miami).

    Prosecutors ARE NOT, HAVE NEVER AND ARE INCAPABLE OF SEEKING JUSTICE AS IT IS DEFINED IN THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY. They are focused on the ladder to the Governors seat, Congressman or woman or higher every loss, each mistake, every released or exonerated removes that goal exponentially and along with it their lives.

    These facts are reflected in the vehement arguments they put on as show for judges across the country. Not only do prosecutors argue that the evidence in any case they are responsible for the conviction in, the "Good-Old-Boy" system is alive throughout the SE. I'm an American. I have two friends the cops and everyone in the system convinced their family that if they're not guilty there's nothing to fear. What a lie! Both died in prison. Not jail, prison. They were murdered after serving 10 years.

    The two men that everyone else suspected of being guilty in the crime were never jailed, the statue of limitations had run its course.

    Sleep well at night, but remember that if you're in the house where the trigger was pulled and you did nothing to stop injustice, they you're finger pulled the trigger. You don't have to be dead to so. 30 years in a cage is enough to drag the life out anyone. You owe him what he lost. YOU F$#&^$G OWE IT TO HIM! GIVE IT ALL BACK TO HIM.

    Human Pride is what will send you all to Hell, not humble human kindness.

    And history shows it happens all the time.

    I pray to God every blessed day you all get the justice you deserve.

    June 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mjh

    i think mr dillion knows what GOD wants him to do sure compensate the gentleman BUT CLEARLY give him his space!

    June 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. WrongfullyConvicted

    I hear a lot of good talk but who really cares other than the wrongfully convicted and our families. Cops and prosecutors never seek the truth. The look for a defendant and make the evidence fit. The judges sit back and do absolutely nothing. I had the so-called victim lie in open court and his own sister contradicted everything he said in court. Not only did I have to fight against the prosecutor but I had to fight against my own court appointed attorney who refused to do anything but try to get me to take a plea. While I didn't serve that much time I still have a life altering felony. Then to add insult to injury during my in court post sentencing statement I told them all that I would pray for them. THEY LAUGHED and began joking about it. The bar association saw nothing wrong with the process however. Time is time. It hurts people. This stuff is the norm. You are guilty until you prove yourself not guilty (not innocent, they never say that). If that were not true then one would never have to post bail.

    June 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marion

      Prosecutors and DAs are looking for "the case" which will give them a foot into politics. The public needs to look at what people are using as stepping stones into politics and not let them use these "stepping stones".

      June 21, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. teremist

    Life is not fair, justice is seldom just, but Freedom is sweet. Looking backward doesn't move you forward, and time is short.

    June 21, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. happyb

    A person criminal record should not be relevant to any compensation they are due after being wrongfully convicted. The only relevant fact should be that they are innocent of the crime for which they were convicted. My personal opinion is to take all the politicians who are making headlines due to scandal and imprison them on some triumphed up charges like they do others, keep them locked up for extended periods of time(stripping them of their lives, families and fortunes), release them after 10 or 20 yrs and tell them to pick back up their lives. Watch how fast laws would change if the laws they passed applied to them. When Jeb Bush was governor of FL, he passed a law televising drug cases in an attempt to embarrass and demean those accused, but as soon as his daughter was arrested and charged with a drug related crime he moved to have her proceeding off camera and private. When the presiding judge ruled that she was not exempt from the law he set in place, he swiftly changed the law but not before she was humiliated. They make these laws aimed at those who are not wealthy and expect them to come home and just start over. Forgetting that after 25 or 30 yrs in prison, the world they left is not the one they return to. Flip the script and our justice system would see serious changes very quickly.

    June 21, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dillon's Daddy

    No need to pay him, Mr Dillon will get his just rewards in heaven......

    June 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. paul

    this is why i oppose the death penalty, too many innocents wrongly convicted, and too many wrongly convicted recieved the death penalty , if this man had of been executed the judges, prosecutors, lawyers would be sitting high and dry, which they are anyway, hopefully the creator will take thier reward away in thier long eternity, they have have not dealt with this mans wrong full conviction, they have only passified thier own conscence , not acceptable to our lord , until you repay him all of which you have taken from him.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Michelle

    Here's a novel idea. Instead of blaming the state of Florida, the police, the judge, the 12 members of the jury who ALL were more than likely trying to do their best considering they aren't psychic or clairovyant, HOW ABOUT WE BLAME AND CHARGE AND SUE the real criminal, the guy who actually did it and let another man take the rap for him. That man should be made to work like a dog in prison for his sentence paying back the wrongly incarcerated. Not going to happen but as a society, we are all idiots when we sue people who are trying to do their best at a job that isn't always clear cut. When you sue the state of FLorida you are suing every citizen living in the state. How the heck does that make sense?

    June 21, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • justice matters

      We are all responsible for the laws we pass in this country. That is democracy. If we pass laws that allow evil prosecutors and detectives to have immunity for framing innocent people, then we are all responsible for the consequences of those laws. The same thing goes for laws about juries of our peers. Attorneys go to law school for 3 years to learn the law, lingo and procedures in courtrooms. Juries get a 15 minute lesson and then have the fate of a person's life in their hands. Most of them don't want to be there and don't fully understand the proceedings. We are all responsible for the outcomes of our faulty system. Until we fix the broken dangerous system we are all indebted to the wrongfully convicted. The laws must change. Vote the corrupt dead wood out of Brevard County, Florida!

      June 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike Johnson

      The problem with that is that they do not all try to do their best ... many, persecutors in particular want a conviction no matter what the facts are because they have political aspirations and want to impress the ignorant masses like yourself with their stellar and tough stand on criminals ... innocent or guilty takes the backseat to convictions.

      June 21, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. snorkbeast

    They should sentence the prosecutor to 27 years in prison.

    June 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike Johnson

    I think anybody with an ounce of common sense ... knows that there is no justice in America if you do not have money ... try being an innocent penniless black guy on death row in Texas .. I am not saying they all are innocent, but I am sure some are. It is disgusting and then we keep on telling other nations how to run their affairs.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Shawna

    Wrongful conviction...

    June 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
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