Editor’s note: The victim in the wrongful conviction case of Joe Jones has been in contact with the Journal-World since October. She has expressed gratitude for the articles about the case, and their role in reopening the case, leading to a DNA profile match. However, the woman has expressed frustration, at times, with the coverage and a lack of information from her point of view. While the woman declined a Journal-World interview request, she provided this letter.
I am the victim that Joe Jones was convicted for kidnapping with a knife and raping in 1985. Confirmation has been made through DNA that the true assailant has been found. This is a day I thought would never come. I want to thank Shaun Hittle for pursuing this matter. However, his articles have never been about the victim’s side of the story. In fact there have been some things printed that were not correct, but I was not asked before they went to print. For instance I was not even in the town the night Joe Jones was arrested. He was seen walking down the street the next night by my witnesses and that’s how he was arrested. I am writing this because these articles on this case are strictly one-sided and I believe it makes my witness and I feel like wolves. Shaun Hittle knows better than that but it never made it to print. These articles were going to be written no matter what it put the victims through. I believe when you open up people’s lives like this there should be more of a balance and a compassion for both sides and relate the hell that both sides have gone through. If that’s not going to be done at least get the details right. I know the big story here is about a wrongly convicted person which is big. My life has not been the same for the 26 years either. Not from living that night, to the release of Joe Jones in 1992, or since Shaun Hittle showed up about eight months ago out of nowhere to drag me through all this again.
I must admit that I was pretty angry for the first few conversations with Mr. Hittle for opening this issue up again. It was a very large pill to swallow in 1992 when Joe Jones was released. Very hard back then to understand how a brand new scientific test could override three eyewitnesses. One of my witnesses was pulled from the car and thrown to the ground with that same knife pointed at her. The other saw this whole thing happen. I have no knowledge of any of the evidence still being held from that night to be able to be run through a databank. I, nor my witnesses, ever knew of another person out there committing the same types of crimes at knifepoint in the same area existed either. We did not know that there was a guy out there that some thought looked enough like Joe Jones to be his brother. After 1992, I thought my witness and I must be crazy, and no one was going to pay for what was done. No one was trying to make me feel better or offer any hope for closure. No one at the police department or D.A.’s office said they could keep looking. No one there was looking to solve an unsolved crime. No one there now, was even around back when this happened. Nothing happened till Shaun Hittle contacted them. When the databank became available my rape kit was not run through for a match. It was even said that these issues are not pursued usually unless the victim pursues the matter. What was I going to pursue? When these things were brought to light, I realized that we truly had made a very large mistake. Not just us, but some on the judicial side as well. I wrote Joe Jones at Christmas and told him I was very sorry he spent those years in prison and told him I had to admit that I was wrong. That we both were wronged and both had been through years of hell over this.
I do, however, want it understood that I do not accept any guilt or blame for the hard times that Joe Jones has gone through since his release. He made his own choices and had $350,000 to do it with. I too could have, and did make a few bad choices after being kidnapped at knifepoint and raped out in the middle of nowhere for hours, thinking I was going to be murdered. I have not though let it rule my life.
I was extra disappointed that in this last article Shaun Hittle nor the Topeka Police Department mentioned that I too have been very active in this matter. No mention of all the regular phone calls I’ve had with Shaun Hittle and the police department. I also obtained some information that the TPD was not aware of, about an attack that happened at the same location on two other women, which I found through court records. I am very driven that the right person pays for what he has done to me as well as what he put Joe Jones through. I want him to get the same sentence that Joe Jones got. If it’s good enough for Joe Jones, it’s good enough for him.
This case has only reached this point from Shaun Hittle looking for justice for Joe Jones. I think it’s great and Joe Jones deserves it. I am very happy for him. Thank you Shaun Hittle for pursuing this matter and maybe it will be closure for me also. Thank you to Det. Arensdorf for all the time, effort and legwork you put in to this. Thanks for making me feel okay. Joe Jones, do treasure this day, you deserve to and I will do the same. Once again I am sorry for the time you spent convicted for something you did not do. This is my side of the story.
— The victim of a crime but not a victim in life.