Lloyd Lindsey

Lloyd Lindsey was convicted of four murders based on testimony that was contradicted by physical evidence

Lloyd Lindsey was convicted in 1975 of murdering three little girls and their brother, and raping one of the girls, the previous year in their home on the south side of Chicago.

Lindsey and two codefendants were arrested after a man who boarded with the children's family and a surviving brother of the victims told police that Lindsey and two other men had strangled the children after raping the girls. Lindsey and his compatriots then set fire to the home, according to the witnesses, who initially were interviewed together.

Under questioning by Chicago police, Lindsey, 17, confessed, parroting details of the rapes and strangulation that the boarder and surviving brother had provided. However, the medical evidence indicated that the children had not been strangled. In fact, they had died of smoke inhalation. Two of the girls, moreover, were virgins and showed no signs of sexual abuse.

Before trial, Lindsey's counsel moved to suppress his oral and written statements, but the motions were denied. Lindsey and his codefendants were tried together by separate juries, one for Lindsey and one for the codefendants, who had not made inculpatory statements. The boarder and surviving brother testified before both juries. The codefendants were acquitted, but Lindsey was convicted and sentenced to 40 to 80 years in prison. The only difference between the case against the co-defendants and the case against Lindsey was his confession.

In 1979, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the conviction outright, forbidding a retrial. "The inconsistencies in the testimony of [the principal prosecution witnesses] were not only contradictory but diluted this evidence to the level of palpable improbability and incredulity," said the court.