A decade ago, the Journal Star produced "Presumed Guilty," an eight-day series telling the story of a 1985 murder in Beatrice and the troubled investigation that led to the wrongful conviction of six men and women.
The group known as the Beatrice 6 collectively spent more than 70 years in prison before new DNA testing exonerated them in 2008.
The botched investigation and wrongful convictions resulted in a judgment of more than $28 million that still looms over the heads of Gage County taxpayers and continues to make headlines to this day.
The Journal Star’s award-winning 2009 series walked readers through the crime and its aftermath — from the rape and murder of Helen Wilson in her downtown Beatrice apartment to the day in 2008 when the last member of the Beatrice 6 walked out of prison to freedom.
For the next five days, the Journal Star revisits this important story in a new way. At journalstar.com/presumed-guilty you’ll find the first of a five-part, serialized podcast. Come back each day through Thursday for the next episode.
In addition to the podcast, on the website you’ll find all the original "Presumed Guilty" stories along with replicas of each printed page from 2009 and an interactive timeline.
Ten years after the publication of "Presumed Guilty" — and almost 35 years after Helen Wilson’s death — the story of the Beatrice 6 remains a riveting tale of crime, justice and injustice. Follow the podcast today through Thursday and read the original series to understand a story that resonates today.
Monday: A persistent detective turns up the heat on a cold case.
Tuesday: From prosecution to prison.
Wednesday: A case crumbles, and the Beatrice 6 go free.
Thursday: Where the case is and where it's been, through the eyes of two journalists.