In 1985, 24-year-old Kirk Bloodsworth was sentenced to death after being wrongly convicted of the rape, mutilation, and first-degree murder of a 9-year-old girl named Dawn Hamilton. He spent the next eight years in jail — two of which he spent on death row, awaiting execution — until, in 1993, he became the first such American inmate to be exonerated as a result of DNA profiling. In 2003, another DNA test linked the actual killer, Kimberly Shay Ruffner, to the murder; a crime to which he confessed a year later.
Below is just one of hundreds of admirably level-headed letters Kirk Bloodsworth wrote during his imprisonment, all in an effort to drum up support for his plight. He sent this particular missive to a news reporter at WBAL-TV in 1987.
(While we’re on the subject of capital punishment, take a quick look at this list of exonerated death row inmates and, as you scan down what is a frighteningly long page given its content, remember that some of these prisoners had already been executed by the time they were proven innocent.)
Transcript follows. Image courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Mr. Kirk N. Bloodsworth
954 Forrest, Street.
Baltimore, Maryland. 21202
Miss. Jane Miller (News Reporter)
W*B*A*L – T.V.
3800 Hooper, Avenue.
Baltimore, Maryland. 21211
December 8, 1987
Dear. Miss. Miller
Just wanted to write you again to say Hi and to thank you for being interested enough in this case to see that whats happened is very tragic and a miscarriage of justice. More concerned people like yourself need to get involved to a intense degree, because not just Dawn Hamilton and myself have suffered, but many have and heaven forbid many could in the future…….
I know like I know my name that I’m Innocent and since that is the complete truth one is left with the very chilling fact, who ever murdered (Dawn Hamilton is still out there.) That is the most tragic fact of this whole matter something needs to be done and soon. I hope Miss. Miller you are moved in a positive way towards all of what I say its not from my head, but from my heart. I love life too much Miss. Miller to take it and along those same lines I dont want someone running around in our lives thats not as you and I feel. Who ever or what ever it was that killed the Hamilton child should not be allowed to walk free. But as long as I’m behind these walls a killer laughs at you and I waiting to take another life how long can it be ignored?
Miss. Miller I expect alot from this state even though it cares not about me or the tragity thats fallen upon it and its community. We can not stop in trying to find the real murderer its a must not just for me, but for others like Dawn Hamilton. I hope I’ve gotten through to you in a very meaningful way it would be sad indeed for it to be otherwise. I hope and pray that you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 1988.
Kirk N. Bloodsworth A.I.M.