Quiet hearing for defendant charged with girl’s slaying

OSKALOOSA — The defendant sat quietly at a hearing for murder charges Tuesday.

As attorneys and a judge discussed future court proceedings that may decide his fate, Thomas Bledsoe sat quietly Tuesday afternoon in a small courtroom here.

Dressed in orange, jail-issue clothes, Bledsoe was manacled hand and foot, his handcuffs attached to a chain around his waist.

Charged with the first-degree murder of his sister-in-law’s sister, Bledsoe nodded his head or answered “yes” or “no” as Jefferson County District Magistrate Court Judge Dennis Reiling asked him questions.

Zetta Camille Arfmann, 14, disappeared Friday afternoon. Her whereabouts were unknown until early Monday when Bledsoe led sheriff’s officers to her body, which was buried in a ditch north of his home.

Bledsoe had no criminal record, Dunnaway said.

Peggy Craig, a counselor at Oskaloosa High School, said Bledsoe had no discipline problems that she could remember. Bledsoe, who was born in 1974, graduated in 1993 from the high school.

“He was kind of just an average kid,” Craig said.

While in high school, Bledsoe took an electronics course the school offers with Kaw Area Technical School in Topeka.

Bledsoe listed his occupation as a guard at Farmland Industries in Lawrence when he was booked Monday into the Jefferson County Jail.

A spokesman for Farmland declined to comment about Bledsoe’s employment. Jefferson County Sheriff Roy Dunnaway said he believed Farmland hired an outside firm to do its security work.

Neighbors said Bledsoe also worked for Walnut Springs Repair Service, a family-owned business.

Bledsoe wears hearing aids in each ear. His hearing didn’t seem to hinder him in school, Craig said.

During Bledsoe’s court appearance Tuesday, Reiling raised his voice so Bledsoe could hear him.

While Bledsoe sat quietly, tilting his head down, his face sometimes flushing red, family members sat nearby.

His father, Floyd Lee Bledsoe, sat with his head down and his hand pressed against his mouth. Other family members looked across the room or at others in the courtroom.

After the court proceeding ended, Bledsoe’s father asked if family members could have a few moments alone with Thomas Bledsoe.

A jail official told them no, saying such a meeting would have to be at the jail.

Bledsoe was then led away to a waiting sheriff’s vehicle.

At the high school Bledsoe and Arfmann attended, the flag flew at half-staff to honor the slain girl, Principal Patrick McKernan said. The request to lower the flag came from Jefferson County North schools, McKernan said. Arfmann attended Jefferson County North schools before transferring to Oskaloosa.

Students were still meeting with counselors Tuesday, said Bob Overstreet, interim superintendent of schools.

“It’s going pretty well,” Overstreet said. “We still have some upset kids. It’s kind of just hitting them.”

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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