Suspect Convictions

The burning corpse of a 9-year old girl was found on a school playground in Davenport, Iowa, September 17, 1990. Within days of the discovery of Jennifer Lewis’ charred body, police arrested Stanley Liggins, an African American who had just been released from prison. An Iowa jury convicted him and after 26-years behind bars, an appellate court has granted him a new trial. The court’s decision was prompted by allegations of hidden evidence and potential police misconduct. Liggins will stand trial in May 2017. And once again, the question will be asked: Who killed Jennifer Lewis? Veteran journalist Scott Reeder, who was at the crime scene the night Jennifer was killed, has conducted a massive investigation examining evidence in the case, interviewing witnesses and exploring the lives of both the victim and the accused. Troubling new developments have been uncovered. Reeder teamed with the NPR affiliate, WVIK, to produce this podcast: “Suspect Convictions.”
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Suspect Convictions

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Jul 23, 2017

Twenty-nine years ago a gunman entered a Texas daycare center, killed one woman and severely wounded another. Scott Reeder covered the case back then and returned to Texas last month to see the crime's lasting impact. He talked to survivors, detectives and family members of the slain woman as they prepare for the killer being released.


On Dec. 7, 1988, Clyde “Buddy” Spence entered a Texas daycare center and shot two workers in front of dozens of screaming children. One worker, Joyce Marques, suffered three serious bullet wounds but survived. The other worker, her daughter in-law, Charlotte “Dawndy” Marques suffered two bullet wounds and died climbing a playground fence as she fled the gunman.

After three months on the lam, Spence was arrested and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Scott Reeder, then a cub reporter at the Galveston Daily News covered the 1989 trial of Spence, where he was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison. The case has long haunted Reeder, a veteran journalist who now produces the hit podcast Suspect Convictions. Questions that he has asked over the years are: What impact have those two minutes of terror had on the community  almost 30 years after the crime? Does a family ever reach closure after suffering such a loss? How has the trauma affected the children who witnessed the crime? And what becomes of man after 30 years in some of Texas’ most violent prisons?

Reeder returned to Galveston County and interviewed the woman wounded in the attack, the sisters of the person killed, one of the children narrowly missed by the bullets, detectives who worked the case and prosecutors who have kept him behind bars. He also visited Spence in the Texas prison where he is being prepared for release into society. The answers he received were surprising and go to the heart of society’ most challenging questions regarding grief, forgiveness and healing.




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