Family of victim tries to cope with pain, loss

OSKALOOSA — A grief-stricken family talks about the aftermath of murder.

Resting on Camille Arfmann’s grave are photographs of the young friends who miss the 14-year-old found murdered in a ditch.

But the grief that has settled on this small town extends beyond those who knew the girl well.

“There are pictures on Camille’s grave from kids that didn’t even know her. They say things like ‘I wish I had known you better,'” said Tommie Sue Arfmann, Camille’s mother.

Camille Arfmann, the youngest of nine children, was buried Nov. 12 at Reformed Presbyterian Cemetery in Winchester, a couple of blocks from her mother’s home; close enough that Tommie Arfmann can visit “sometimes several times a day.”

“I don’t like leaving her there alone,” the mother said. “She should have had the right to live her life. They can’t give me my daughter back. They can’t breathe air back into her. They better be ready to pay. I’m from Alaska where a death deserves another death.”

Tommie Arfmann said she hasn’t returned to work since Nov. 5, when it first became apparent her daughter was missing.

“It’s too hard,” she said. “You can’t be dependable in a job.”

But not working doesn’t help pay for the funeral.

“The funeral puts a financial hardship on the family. They won’t bury someone until you pay for it,” she said.

At the time of her disappearance, Camille was living here with her sister Heidi, Heidi’s husband, Floyd, since charged with the murder, and the couple’s two children: Cody, 2, and Christian, 9 months.

Bledsoe now sits in the Jefferson County Jail, awaiting a trial that is scheduled to begin Feb. 22.

“I went to face Floyd” at the jail “after we buried Camille,” Tommie Arfmann said. “He wouldn’t even look at me. He was sitting there eating like a king. He was eating better than lots of kids here in America,” she said.

She’s also looked at all the crime photos taken by law enforcement. Her daughter was shot four times, once in the back of the head and three times in the chest, according to court testimony.

“I wanted to see how they slaughtered her,” Tommie Arfmann said. “It was really hard. One side of her face was blue.”

Tommie said Heidi Bledsoe went back to work shortly after her sister’s funeral.

“I think it was the next week, but I’m not sure. Heidi has bills to pay.”

Heidi and her children have been living with Tommie in Winchester since Heidi’s husband was arrested for the murder. Tommie and a family friend help care for the children while Heidi works.

Tommie said Heidi hasn’t returned to the house in Oskaloosa since moving back to Winchester. The family is bitter toward Floyd Bledsoe.

“She doesn’t want anything from the house,” she said. “He left Heidi with no phone, no car and all those woods around. He had a car for him but he wouldn’t let her drive.”

“She lost a job because he didn’t come home to take her to work one day,” said Roberta Graika, another of Camille’s sisters.

The Bledsoe phone had been disconnected, Tommie said, because of Floyd’s calls to “psychic hotlines. I was going to get her a cell phone but I knew he would just run up the bill.”

Tommie said Heidi has “backed away from Floyd. She doesn’t go around him. Also, how do you tell a 2-year-old where their daddy is? How do you tell ’em he’s in jail?”

Timeline: Floyd Bledsoe murder conviction overturned

● May 29, 2016 — Lawsuit filed by wrongfully convicted man details how law enforcement officials allegedly framed him

● May 21, 2016 — Floyd Bledsoe, wrongfully imprisoned for 15 years, pushes to end death penalty in Kansas

● May 10, 2016 — Floyd Bledsoe, wrongfully imprisoned for 15 years, says he was ‘framed,’ files lawsuit against Kansas justice officials

● Feb. 12, 2016 — Wrongfully convicted Floyd Bledsoe seeks videotaped interrogations in Kansas

● Feb. 8, 2016 — Kansas bill would allow $235K for wrongfully convicted man who spent 15 years in prison

● Jan. 18, 2016 — Jefferson County attorney doesn’t expect further action against former sheriff, others involved in wrongful murder conviction

● Jan. 17, 2016 — Bledsoe case spurs measure to allow compensation for wrongful convictions

● Jan. 10, 2016 — Requiring that police interrogations be recorded might have prevented tragedy of wrongful conviction

● Dec. 30, 2015 — ‘Who are you going to tell?’ — Floyd Bledsoe, wrongfully convicted of murder, discusses pain of prison, journey to forgiveness

● Dec. 27, 2015 — 1999 Oskaloosa murder case reopened; possibility that killer ‘had assistance’

● Dec. 13, 2015 — Web of lies, indifference to justice led to wrong Kansas brother being imprisoned for more than 15 years

● Dec. 13, 2015 — Kansas has no law on payouts for wrongly incarcerated prisoners

Dec. 8, 2015 — Judge throws out 2000 murder conviction, frees Oskaloosa man after 15 years in prison

● Nov. 13, 2015 — Original suspect in girl’s murder dies of apparent suicide as case about to be revisited

● Oct. 21, 2015 — KU Project for Innocence, Midwest Innocence Project seeks to free convicted murderer with DNA evidence

● July 8, 2012 — Objection to DNA testing not likely

● June 20, 2012 — Motion seeks DNA testing in 1999 murder of teen

● Sept. 30, 2009 — Further appeals limited in Bledsoe case

● July 5, 2009 — 1999 murder case won’t settle

● June 28, 2009 — Federal court reverses release in murder case

● Oct. 7, 2008 — Floyd Bledsoe, sentenced to life for murder of teen sister-in-law, set free; ineffective assistance of counsel cited

● Feb. 3, 2007 — Court upholds murder conviction

● Feb. 2, 2002 — Murder conviction is upheld

● Dec. 5, 2001 — Attorneys appeal conviction of teen-ager’s murderer

● Dec. 2, 2001 — Oskaloosa murder case to be heard

● July 15, 2000 — Victim’s family unsure justice was served

● July 15, 2000 — Bledsoe gets life

● July 14, 2000 — Bledsoe sentenced to life in prison

● June 23, 2000 — Bledsoe sentencing delayed

● May 31, 2000 — Lawyer: Mother’s story changes

● April 30, 2000 — Minister supports Bledsoe in spirit

● April 28, 2000 — Bledsoe found guilty

● April 28, 2000 — Bledsoe murder case goes to jury

● April 27, 2000 — Bledsoe charges amended

● April 27, 2000 — Bledsoe prosecution rests

● April 27, 2000 — Bledsoe murder trial wrapping up

● April 26, 2000 — Tom Bledsoe seeks to explain lies

● April 26, 2000 — Bledsoe told his mother he didn’t kill Arfmann

● April 25, 2000 — Pool of potential jurors knows all about case

● April 25 2000 — Trial starts in murder of girl, 14

● April 24, 2000 — Murder trial to begin today

● Dec. 10, 1999 — Family of victim tries to cope with pain, loss

● Dec. 10, 1999 — Murder suspect enters innocent plea

● Dec. 9, 1999 — Murder suspect to be arraigned

● Nov. 30, 1999 — Case pits brother vs. brother

● Nov. 18, 1999 — Friends relieved charges were dismissed against Oskaloosa man

● Nov. 16, 1999 — Wife proclaims husband’s innocence in girl’s death

● Nov. 14, 1999 — In-law jailed in slaying of teen-ager

● Nov. 14, 1999 — Family, friends mourn Camille

● Nov. 10, 1999 — Quiet hearing for defendant charged with girl’s slaying

● Nov. 10, 1999 — Bledsoe recieves murder charge

● Nov. 9, 1999 — Police hold relative of slain girl

● Nov. 9, 1999 — Girl’s death leaves family, children with questions


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