Friends relieved charges were dismissed against Oskaloosa man

Friends of Thomas E. Bledsoe say that he wouldn’t hurt a fly and that they would trust him with their children.

For five days Thomas E. Bledsoe sat in the Jefferson County Jail, accused of the murder of his sister-in-law’s sister.

He was released Friday, and first-degree murder charges against him were formally dismissed Monday at the request of the Jefferson County attorney.

Friends of Bledsoe say they never believed he was capable of such an act. They’ve spoken to the Journal-World throughout the past two days. This is how they described Bledsoe:

“A sweet and honest person who wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“I would go to the end of my reaches to do anything for him.”

“He’s a very sincere Christian. He’s a good kid.”

“I would trust Tom with my child,” who is 8.

“Yes, I would trust my children with him. My daughter knows Tom. She knows he’s a very good man. She’s 15 years old. She was very sad to hear what happened to him.”

“Really, Tom’s life was his church and his belief in God.”

Bledsoe’s brother, Floyd Scott Bledsoe, is being held without bond in the murder of Camille Arfmann, 14.

Friends are at a loss to understand how Thomas Bledsoe came to be charged with the murder of a young girl. Nor could they offer any explanation for how he came to lead sheriff’s officers to Arfmann’s body, which was buried underneath trash and dirt in a ditch north of Thomas Bledsoe’s home.

Kathy Reusch, who would go “to the end of her reaches” for the man she would trust with her 8-year-old child, said Thomas Bledsoe liked to hunt and had talked about going deer hunting soon.

“I know he wanted to do a hunting trip,” Reusch said. “Maybe he was out checking the trees for scrapes and stumbled across something.”

Reusch did a Bible study with Thomas Bledsoe, whose life she described as being centered on his belief in God.

Jim Bolinger, a youth group leader at Countryside Baptist Church where Bledsoe was active said the sincere Christian and good kid he has known for 10 years was tearfully welcomed by the congregation at services Sunday night.

Over and over again, Bolinger described Thomas Bledsoe as helpful to young and old.

Friends said he was a man who took off from work to help with church camps and Vacation Bible School. They also describe him as “timid” or “easily intimidated.”

Cathy Reid, whose 15-year-old was saddened at the news of Thomas Bledsoe’s arrest, said, “I never heard him say a bad word.

“He was always speaking with respect around me as a lady,” she said.

Neither Thomas Bledsoe nor his attorney Michael Hayes replied to requests for interviews.

Jefferson County Sheriff Roy Dunnaway said Monday that Thomas Bledsoe had not been ruled out as a suspect in Arfmann’s death.

• Erwin Seba’s phone message number is 832-7145. His e-mail address is

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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