|Contact Sandra Lynn Hemme|
Chillicothe Correctional Center
3151 Litton Road
Chillicothe, MO 64601
|DOB: February 25, 1960|
|Sandra L. Hemme's case data|
|State and County||Missouri, Buchanan County|
|Crime||one count of capital murder|
|Date of Crime||Nov. 12 or 13, 1980|
|Date of Arrest||November 1980|
|Date of Conviction||July 5, 1985|
|Sentence||Life without parole for 50 years|
|Age at the Date of Crime||20|
|Contributing Factors||Ineffectiveness of Counsel, False Confession, Official Misconduct|
|Did DNA evidence contribute to the conviction?||No|
|Is there DNA evidence to test?||Yes|
Murder victim Patricia Jeschke (31) was stabbed and strangled in her apartment (St. Joseph, Missouri) on November 12, 1980. Her mother found her nude body on the bedroom floor the next day with several head wounds. Jeschke was a St. Joseph library secretary. Sandra Hemme says she knew Patricia Jeschke from the library.
This seems to be not only a classic case of false confession by the accused. This is the case of a mental patient, who did not really know what happened or where she was at the time of the offense. When Hemme was interrogated by police without a defense attorney present (starting on December 5, 1980) and eventually pleaded guilty (December 10, 1980), she did not have access to her medication prescribed by her doctors. Hemme was not competent to enter a plea in the first place.
There was no physical or trace evidence to tie Sandra Hemme to the crime scene at 1501 Riverside Road, Saint Joseph, Missouri. There were no eyewitnesses who saw Hemme kill Jeschke. The only evidence the State had against Hemme was her own guilty plea.
Mental Health History
Sandra Hemme had a lengthy history of mental illness induced by drug abuse.
She had first received psychiatric treatment in 1972 at age 13 when she attempted suicide. She was successively admitted to a number of treatment institutions. Hemme was hospitalized six of the eight years preceding the crime charged in this case. She attempted suicide three or four more times and had a history of seven admissions to the St. Joseph State Hospital where she was a patient at the time of her arrest.
According to the State’s reconstruction of events, Sandra Hemme left the hospital the day of the killing and returned there that night.
Ineffectiveness of Counsel
Sandra Hemme’s father retained defense attorney Dale P. Sullivan soon after his daughter’s arrest. There is no record of when the lawyer undertook to represent Hemme, because Sullivan filed no entry of appearance and no motions or pleadings of any kind in the case.
Hemme’s criminal trial counsel failed to make minimal preparation of the defense and had, instead, actively promoted entry of a guilty plea.
Hemme entered her guilty plea on April 10, 1981. The judge refused it. As the court stated, the testimony offered by Sandra Hemme was simply not sufficient to satisfy all the elements of the offense of capital murder and the State made no offer to show what its proof would be apart from the accused’s confession.
At this point, the prosecutor interceded to obtain a recess, evidently to assist the defendant in clearing her memory. During the recess, according to Hemme’s testimony at the motion hearing, the prosecutor and the defense attorney jointly instructed Hemme as to how she should respond to the court’s questions to assure acceptance of the plea.
The judge then accepted the plea and immediately sentenced her to to life imprisonment without parole for fifty years.
At the motion hearing in 1983, Attorney Sullivan testified that he had had some doubt in his mind as to Hemme’s competency to proceed and her mental capacity at the time of the crime. Despite this doubt, Sullivan filed no motion for a mental examination, gave no information to the court as to Hemme’s history of hospitalization and treatment and he gave no notice of intention to rely on the defense of mental disease or defect.
After the motion hearing, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District reversed the judgment of conviction and ordered that Sandra Hemme be allowed to withdraw her plea of guilty.
Joseph Patrick Wabski (Joseph Wabske):
The first suspect in this case was 44-year-old Joseph Patrick Wabski (Joseph Wabske). He was an Indian, born on March 21, 1936, in Mayetta, Kansas. He had several encounters with police leading to arrests for misdemeanors beginning in the early 1950s and allegedly “took a swing” at an officer. In 1980, he was a self-proclaimed part-time prize fighter and lived in Topeca, Kansas. Prosecutor Michael Insco dropped the charge finding Wabske was innocent of killing Jeschke. Wabske had at least three alibi witnesses who said that he was in a Topeca detoxification center at the time of the slaying. The Salina Journal reported that police said Joseph Wabske’s “arrest gave them further information in the case that lead to the arrest of Hemme”.
Joseph Wabske had been a resident of Casper, Wyoming, for many years, when he passed away on February 10, 2006, at the age of 69.
Michael D. Holman:
Police officer Holman (22), born on August 23, 1959, is an African American. He had been with the police department for 18 months and made himself a suspect using the murder victim’s credit card in Kansas City, Kansas, on November 13, 1980. He wanted to buy US$ 630 worth of camera equipment with it. Nobody could verify the officer’s alibi for November 12, 1980.
Holman was arrested for stealing with deceit in an unrelated case days after Jeschke’s death and was fired. A few days later, he was arrested again and charged with receiving stolen property. Holman was arraigned in March of 1981; he pleaded guilty in June of 1981, and was sentenced to two years in the Missouri State Prison in Jefferson City.
Less than a year later, he was released. In June of 1982, he was convicted of stealing and forgery again. Holman was also charged with a break-in. Two years later, he violated his parole in Nebraska. He was convicted of stealing and was imprisoned there. Afterwards, his probation was revoked in St. Joseph, Missouri, and he was incarcerated in Jefferson City again.
DNA evidence and sloppy investigation
One “Negroid” pubic hair was found in Patricia Jeschke’s bedsheets. It has never been tested and compared to Mike Holman’s DNA.
Guilty Plea v. Michael Holman’s Statement
Sandra Hemme changed her story each time she was interrogated by the investigators. For instance, she stated to police that she had thrown away Jeschke’s purse in downtown Kansas City.
Michael Holman, however, stated that he had found the purse in a ditch along Riverside Road, the street where the victim lived.
After the press had reported about Michael Holman’s charges in February of 1981, Sandra Hemme stated to police on April 7, 1981, that Holman was involved with her in the murder. The investigators showed her a photo array that consisted of six black men. However, Hemme could not identify Holman.
Sandra Hemme’s Statement
I checked out of St. Joseph State Hospital and went and got high. I got feeling guilty and cold and delusional and seeing all sorts of things. I am also a manic depressant with psycotic episodes. So, I went to a friend’s house and started talking about people killing people as the news was on her T.V., and I saw about a murder. I was out of it.
She freaked and ran to a neighbor’s house and called the law enforcement. I was picked up and admitted to the state hospital. Cops came and asked me leading questions. I started thinking I was there, when I was not. It did not take them, but a day or two and they had me pretty sure I was there. I answered their questions of all the prior leading questions.
There was a part of me always doubting my guilt. I am now on the correct meds and living a normal prison life, and not getting high. The hair sample reports say it is a black man’s hair. (see here) I am a white female. The hair was found at the crime scene. I have been doing time since my arrest in November of 1980.
How you can help
“Watch the video above and read my trial transcripts so that you can form your own opinion. If you want to support me, I am grateful for everything you can do for me. Like almost everybody who is falsely convicted of a crime, I need a private investigator and a defense attorney.” (Sandra Hemme)
Go to the IIPPI Forum for updates.
newspaper articles and excerpt of Dale P. Sullivan’s testimony (3 pages)
“Ex-officer had mysterious role in Hemme case”
by Terry Raffensperger (Courthouse Reporter)
Hearing on the 27.26 Motion, March-May 1983
Re-Trial Transcript, June 3rd-5th, 1985
December 11, 1980
The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas, (Page 21)
“Joseph Patrick Wabski, who was arrested in the case but was able to provide an alibi substantiated by at least three witnesses.”
Sandra Hemme v. State of Missouri
Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District
September 4, 1984
From the Circuit Court of Buchanan County Criminal Appeal from Motion Under Rule 27.26 (Post Conviction Relief) Judge Frank D. Connett, Jr. Reversed and Remanded With Directions
Before Clark, P.j., Pritchard, Lowenstein, JJ.
Police Officer Muehlenbacher had a history of making people confess
State v. Huffer
Kansas City Court of Appeals, Missouri
February 5, 1968
“A Tragic Conviction : How Justice System Can Go Wrong” (Page 3 of 8)
March 17, 1985|RICHARD E. MEYER | Times Staff Writer
Melvin Lee Reynolds’ case: The same police officer, the same judge, the same sentence like in Sandra Hemme’s case.
“Miranda’s Waning Protections: Police Interrogation Practices After Dickerson”
[Miranda Warning Protection] by Welsh S. White
University of Michigan Press (August 27, 2003)
Obituary: John Muehlenbacher died on March 21, 2012 at the age of 79.