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. evos

    THE POLICE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO MAKE MISTAKES. I don't care if they say, "well, we didn't have DNA back then." If you're willing to be a cop then you ALWAYS have to be right. No excuse for mistakes!

    June 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      and you are perfect?
      better look in the mirror idiot

      June 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duh

      @ EVOS: HE POLICE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO MAKE MISTAKES. I don't care if they say, "well, we didn't have DNA back then." If you're willing to be a cop then you ALWAYS have to be right. No excuse for mistakes!

      Huh? You know that cops don't convict right? Get a clue.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ishouldnobetter

      Your Prozac is on the 2nd shelf, evos.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brent

      Police can and do make mistakes. However, jurors need to be willing to allow for reasonable doubt. Even with an eye witness, there can be reasonable doubt.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • waheid

      It's not just the police, although the police deserve part of the blame. The police are part of a system that is eager to get someone convicted, especially when the crime is sensational. It's bad enough that honest mistakes are made, but some of these "mistakes" are actually deliberate and malicious manipulation of the system.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • INDSIDE JoB119

      This is the reason they dont give a ish if they innocent or not, The prison industry is make 37.9 Billion dollars a year enslaving innocent and non violent offenders, and cost us 100,000 dollars a year for just one inmate, for a theft of an inanimate object worth 300 dollars....This is what we could refer to as modern day slavery.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Really?

    You guys are all right. Let's stop incarcerating people when they are found guilty of a crime. I mean, you hear about this happening all the time! The last one, I forget but I'm sure it happens all the time. Pretty sure if it was your uncle found beaten to death on the beach you would've just wanted justice. Found innocent 30 years later?? Oh, sorry. C'mon people, the justice system has been about 99.9% effective thru the years. Dirty lawyers, dirty cops, dirty judges all happen, but so do dirty criminals. I'll take my chances with this system.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • sulden

      Ask the Central Park five how they feel about that 99.9%........

      June 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • stinkysullivan

      I am sure if you were wronly convicted you would have no hard feeling for spending 30 years in prison!! Plus justice is getting the right person, read the statistics from the Innocence project then get back to me.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • J.H.

      The "Legal" system does get the right guys and girls most of the time and when it does not it's a shame! Perhaps in those situations their should be a committee of people (not cops or lawyers) that investigate what went wrong and how to fix it. We could call it the people's committee and the cops and lawyers would answer to them!

      June 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Actually your statistic of 99.9% is pure myth. There has been no finding that 99.9% of convictions are correct. The error rate is probably much higher than 0.1%. I realize you can't remember the last time someone was wrongly convicted, so conduct a little research. You will find that people are being released from incarceration almost monthly who were wrongly convicted. Our system needs work. Our system needs lots of work.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • J.H.

      Please do not refer to it as the "Justice" system, there is not Justice in this country when the REAL criminals go to prison and are treated better than our homeless or working poor. They have medical, schooling, counseling, etc....

      June 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Prometheus

      Well I disagree. This is after all just my 'personal' opinion but I am of the ilk that would rather empty the prisons rather than put a single innocent man there. Not in my name. I do not believe in God but I recognize as self-evident much of the wisdom in many religious writings. My view (and maybe how I came to have it) reminds me of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. God wanted to punish those who had broken his laws, but after much hearing Abraham's pleas he finally agreed to spare the cities if just 10 'righteous' persons could be found within them.

      If someone was found guilty of the murder of my 1st born, my Daughter and 27 years later was found to be innocent I think hearing the news would make me physically sick. Look around you. All human life is finite and therefore precious. I make no excuse for criminals or people who choose to live an 'evil' (for lack of a better term) life but I'd like to think that choosing to believe in 'doing the right thing' in cases like this is better than doing the punitive or 'vengeful'. thing.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Wolf

    Too many of these happening in Florida. I'm glad he's do you compensate someone for such a great wrong?

    June 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tom Sawyer

    Poor guy, I feel so bad for him.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DNA

    The prosecutor who put him there should have to serve as many years.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • gunther

      pretty sure it was a jury...

      June 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karlos

      I agree, government should pay him for the lost years of his life and the prosecutor should be fired.
      Its not a small mistake, this has ruined this person's life.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. fearlessdude

    American justice at work: District Attorneys don't care about the truth, they want convictions. The police don't care about the truth, they want convictions and they will fabricate evidence, lie, plant guns on innocent people and introduce false paid-for testimony of other inmates. In famous cases the defense attorneys are more interested in writing a book than providing proper defense. The whole thing is crooked. This is the best justice money can buy.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ishouldnobetter

      I agree wholeheartedly. When someone confesses to a crime, then gets off because of a totally unrelated technicality, that is criminal and the judge who lets him off should go to jail. We need to get away from the adversarial system and move toward a cooperative system where the emphasis is on the truth in what happened and not who's got the slicker, smarter or better educated lawyers or more resources. That's why the poor always get longer sentences and higher conviction rates

      June 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Shane

    I am pro-life, from embreyo to senior. No one should be killed [PERIOD].

    I don't like the conservatives who are quick to endorse capital punishment, and I don't like the liberals are a quick to make excuses for aborting. Killing is wrong no matter what.

    I'm glad an innocent man was freed today.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dorry


      I agree with you 100%. I don't know how ANYONE who is pro-life can support the death penalty. Cases like this are exactly why it should be outlawed. We are supposed to be a civilized country and yet we allow government sanctioned murder. Yeah, I know, if it was my child, husband, etc. I would probably feel different. I would probably want to kill the person myself, but I still don't agree with the government deciding who lives and who dies, especially when they get it wrong so damned often!

      June 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Deb

    what about the case in Montanna??? More follow up and pressure need to be exerted, back in the 80' when a sheriff's daughter was implicated he broke into the evidence room and tampered with evidence. That man needs some justice.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. cobra

    The problem is cops and prosecuters always want to win, to hell with the truth.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Terre

    Don't complain about the Italian justice system, ours are much worse.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jon

    When the cops and prosecutors screw up, and I'm not saying they did so in this particular case, but when they really really screw up and ignore information which clears a guy, and that has occurred over the years, there has to be a consequence.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JRC

    They would want to compensate this gentleman for time missed while serving sentence plus potential future earnings. Some people in law enforcement, I said "some" are just riding the badge along with some prosecuters and possible judges just sitting in their high chair DOING NOTHING, get rid of their lazy you know whats!!!!! Our judicial system at its finest...What a waste of taxpayer money...

    June 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Babs

    I feel very bad for this man. Everyone is bashing the prosecutor; however this man was found guilty by a jury. Apparently the prosecutor was able to put on a case leaving no doubt in the jury making the guilty verdict. I would more blame this man's defensive attorney for a crappy job in defending him!!!! Yes, he is owed every penny of the compensation.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. paul

    Who is going to give this man back his 30 years?

    June 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. respondthenreact

    i would try and make the parties all involved life an living hell, i would do radio interviews, tv interviews of course get some compensation, put everybody on front street, lawyer, judge, detectives, police dept..make them accountable for your 30 years of slaverly..somebody will have to give me some type of compnesation for runing my life..

    June 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
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