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“I’m just grateful:” Wrongly imprisoned for 16 years, brother’s suicide notes have set him free

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OSKALOOSA, Kansas — A man in Kansas has been declared innocent after spending 16 years in prison for murder. 39-year-old Floyd Bledsoe is now a free man.

“I’m just grateful,” Bledsoe said.

Judge Gary Nafziger overturned his convictions for first degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated indecent liberties in the death of his sister-in-law Camille Arfmann.

Arfmann was found dead with four gunshot wounds — one to the back of her head — back in 1999.

The non-profit organization “Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies” at the University of Kansas represented Bledsoe. They say new DNA evidence shows Bledsoe’s brother Tom was guilty in the case.

Detective Sgt. Kirk Vernon told the courtroom that just last month, Tom Bledsoe committed suicide in a Walmart parking lot — putting a bag over his head inside his vehicle.

He left behind suicide notes.

“Dear Mom and Dad: I’m sorry I have caused all this pain. Floyd is innocent. The CA made me lie and keep my mouth shut,” Sgt. Vernon said as he read one of the letters.

In another suicide note Tom Bledsoe sent “to whomever cares,” Bledsoe wrote:

“I killed Camille Arfmann on November 5, 1999. I had sex with her and killed her.”

Attorney Alice Craig said a vaginal swab test indicated Arfmann’s body had semen — and Sgt. Vernon said it most likely belonged to Tom Bledsoe. He said there’s “one in a quadrillion” chance it’s someone else’s.

Tom Bledsoe’s letter goes on to say:

“We had sex on my parents’ bed. That’s how my father’s DNA got on her clothes.”

Sgt. Vernon said this may be why Tom and Floyd Bledsoe’s father, Floyd Lavernan’s DNA was found on Arfmann’s sock.

Craig and state prosecutor Jason Bleveal both asked Judge Nafziger for a new trial.

The judge called for a recess, and then said there will be a new trial — but in a surprising turn of events, the judge lft the courtroom and came back in and said Floyd Bledsoe would be released.

“They finally did the right thing. We will never forget Camille,” Arfmann’s sister said.

“I’m just glad this day is here,” Floyd Bledsoe said.

In 1999, Arfmann disappeared from the mobile home she shared with Floyd Bledsoe, her sister and their two children after coming home from school.