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Sandra Hemme has murder conviction overturned as it’s revealed discredited cop who died in 2015 was likely killer after she spent 43 years in prison

A Missouri woman who spent more than 40 years in prison for murder has been found innocent.

Sandra “Sandy” Hemme, 63, was sentenced to life imprisonment after the 1980 murder of 31-year-old Patricia Jeschke, but will now be released or retried within the next 30 days.

A judge overturned the conviction Friday after her lawyers revealed how the crime was likely committed by a now-discredited officer who died in 2015.

Hemme was handcuffed after making statements to other officers in St. Joseph while sedated afterwards, incriminating herself.

As police did this, they exploited her mental illness and forced her to make false statements while taking medications intended to treat a psychotic disorder, Judge Ryan Horsman said – citing the fact that the suspect also was threatened with the death penalty.

Sandra “Sandy” Hemme, a Missouri woman who spent 43 years in prison for a murder she did not commit, was finally found innocent Friday.  Hemme is seen here sometime during her incarceration

Sandra “Sandy” Hemme, a Missouri woman who spent 43 years in prison for a murder she did not commit, was finally found innocent Friday. Hemme is seen here sometime during her incarceration

Hemme, now 63, is seen here in the 1970s

Hemme, now 63, is seen here in the 1970s

Patricia Jeschke, a 31-year-old library worker who was murdered in 1980, is seen here

Patricia Jeschke, a 31-year-old library worker who was murdered in 1980, is seen here

Sandra ‘Sandy’ Hemme, 63, (left) was sentenced to life imprisonment after the murder of 31-year-old Patricia Jeschke (right) in 1980

“The only evidence linking Ms. Hemme to the crime was that of her own inconsistent, refuted statements, statements made while she was in a psychiatric crisis and in physical pain,” he said in the order to reverse the ruling turn.

In contrast, ‘this court finds that the evidence is directly related [then-police officer Michael] Holman to this crime and murder scene,” Horsman added – pointing to the compelling new evidence presented by Hemme’s lawyers in February 2023.

He said prosecutors failed to release such evidence at the time — which he said would certainly have helped Hemme’s defense.

He added that this caused her trial lawyer to fall “below professional standards,” paving the way for the injustice.

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The officer in question died in 2015 after being fired from the St. Joseph force for falsely reporting his pickup had been stolen and collecting an insurance payout a month after Jeschke, a local library worker, was found stabbed to death.

It was the same truck that his fellow officer spotted near the crime scene, causing them to close in on the suspect.

The officer also attempted to use Jeschke’s credit card at a Kansas City camera store on the same day her body was discovered, and in response provided an alibi that he had spent the night with a woman at a nearby motel.

However, this could not be confirmed, although Hemme was still treated as the main suspect.

A judge overturned the conviction Friday after her lawyers successfully argued that the crime was committed by a now-discredited officer, St. Joseph's Michael Holman (seen here), who died in 2015.

A judge overturned the conviction Friday after her lawyers successfully argued that the crime was committed by a now-discredited officer, St. Joseph's Michael Holman (seen here), who died in 2015.

A judge overturned the conviction Friday after her lawyers successfully argued that the crime was committed by a now-discredited officer, St. Joseph’s Michael Holman (seen here), who died in 2015.

Holman, on the other hand, said he found the card in a bag discarded in a ditch, prompting a raid on his home by fellow officers – during which they a pair of gold horseshoe earrings, along with jewelry stolen from another woman during a burglary earlier that year.

Afterwards, Jeschke’s father came forward and claimed he recognized the earrings as a pair he had bought for his daughter, but the investigation into Holman still ended abruptly four days later.

Many of these details, officials said Friday, were later discovered and never given to Hemme’s lawyers — enough to classify it as a miscarriage of justice more than 40 years after the case made headlines.

It started on November 13, 1980, when Jeschke failed to show up for work, causing her mother to climb through her locker window and discover her naked body surrounded by blood.

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Her hands were tied behind her back with a telephone cord and tights wrapped around her throat, with a freshly used knife under her head.

A search for the librarian’s killers followed, with Hemme emerging as a suspect within two weeks.

She had been released from a psychiatric hospital the day before Jeschke’s body was found and showed up almost two weeks later at the home of a nurse who once treated her, holding a knife and refusing to leave.

Police at that point found her in a closet and took her back to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where she would soon become a suspect.

1718549068 562 Sandra Hemme has murder conviction overturned as its revealed discredited

1718549068 562 Sandra Hemme has murder conviction overturned as its revealed discredited

“The only evidence linking Ms. Hemme to the crime was that of her own inconsistent, refuted statements, statements made while she was in a psychiatric crisis and in physical pain,” Judge Ryan Horsman said in handing down his decision . In contrast, he added, “the evidence is directly linked [then-police officer Michael] Holman for this crime and murder’

Citing the timing of these hospitalizations, police began interrogating Hemme while she was being bombarded with antipsychotic drugs.

This, her lawyers pointed out, was the latest in a series of hospital admissions that began when Hemme began hearing voices at the age of 12 and police noticed that she appeared “mentally confused” and was not fully able to understand their questions at the time.

“Each time police retrieved a statement from Ms. Hemme, it changed dramatically from the previous one, often including statements for facts police had recently discovered,” her attorneys wrote.

Ultimately, she claimed to have seen a man named Joseph Wabski kill Jeschke, after meeting Wabski while they were staying in the state hospital’s detoxification unit at the same time.

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He was quickly charged with murder, but prosecutors dropped the case within days when they learned he was at an alcohol treatment center in Topeka, Kansas, at the time.

When Hemme heard this, she cried and she was the only killer – right around the time the police started investigating Holman.

However, he was released and was only fired, while prosecutors continued their case against Hemme.

While doing so, police exploited her mental illness and forced her to make false statements while taking medications intended to treat a psychotic condition, the lawyer said.  Hemme is seen here in a Missouri Department of Corrections booking photo

While doing so, police exploited her mental illness and forced her to make false statements while taking medications intended to treat a psychotic condition, the lawyer said.  Hemme is seen here in a Missouri Department of Corrections booking photo

While doing so, police exploited her mental illness and forced her to make false statements while taking medications intended to treat a psychotic condition, the lawyer said. Hemme is seen here in a Missouri Department of Corrections booking photo

While imprisoned awaiting trial, she wrote to her parents on Christmas Day 1980: “Even though I’m innocent, they want to lock someone up so they can say the case is solved.” She said she might as well change her plea to guilty.

“Let it end,” she added at the time. ‘I’m tired.’

The following spring, she agreed to plead guilty to murder in exchange for eliminating the death penalty.

Her attorneys presented these errors regarding the case a year and a half ago, after which the Missouri Court of Appeals scheduled an evidentiary hearing for January 16, 2024.

The hearing lasted three days. in which former detective Steven Fueston stated that he stopped one of Hemme’s police interrogations because “she didn’t seem entirely coherent”

Horshman, in turn, made his statement Friday, reprimanding the department.

Larry Harman, a local judge who helped Hemme dismiss her initial guilty plea, said in the petition that he believed she was innocent.

“The system,” he said, “failed her at every opportunity.”

The decision to release or retry her will be made within the next 30 days.

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