September 28th, 2000, started out like any other typical Thursday evening. David Camm, a 36-year-old former State Police trooper was off playing basketball with his friends, while his wife Kimberly was at home with their two children – five-year-old Jill and seven-year-old Bradley.
David finished practice a bit late and raced home to help his wife get the kids ready for bed. He pulled into the driveway at around 9:20 pm. As the garage door rose, it revealed a horrific sight that brought David to his knees. Trembling and fearful, he phoned the local police and yelled, “Get everybody out here to my house NOW! My wife and kids are dead!”
David Was Inconsolable
David saw his wife on the garage floor, half-naked, a pool of blood pouring from her head. The car door beside her was wide open and revealed their two kids sitting in the backseat. Jill was dead, but Bradley was still warm to the touch.
David’s police training kicked in as he dragged his son out of the car to try and resuscitate him. Sadly, his rescue efforts were unsuccessful. Agonized and inconsolable, David couldn’t bear to sit around and wait for the police to arrive. Instead, he ran over to his uncle’s house nearby to call for help.
Police arrived at about 9:30 pm. They suspected it was a sex crime, for Kim had no pants on. But there were a few bizarre things that they couldn’t entirely solve. For one, Bradley was wearing a gray sweatshirt that wasn’t from the house and didn’t belong to any family members.
Two, Kim’s shoes were found on top of her car. Why would she take them off? David insisted that she never drove without her shoes on and that it looked like the attack happened immediately after she got out of the car.
A Homicide Investigation Begins
The lead investigator of the case was David’s old friend, and he was the first one to question him. Being a former cop, David knew that interrogating the surviving family member is the regular protocol and that it didn’t mean that he was an actual suspect.
Everyone in the local police department knew David. Many of them also knew where he had been that night – at basketball practice, just like every Thursday evening.
However, things turned around pretty quickly. Before David knew it, he went from being innocently questioned to being the primary suspect.
They Had No Enemies or Stalkers
David told the police everything there was to say about his and Kim’s day. Nothing was out of the ordinary, he stated. He also added that he had no idea who would do something like that, for he and Kim got along with everyone in town.
But what about their relationship, officials asked David. He responded that although they had their ups and downs, things were looking up for the two of them. They had two beautiful kids, a nice house, and a great income—no reason to go berserk.
Three Days Later, He Was Arrested
Police took David’s clothes for testing, and three days later, they called him in for another interrogation. They sat him down and explained: “Because of the high profile of this case and because of obviously – the notoriety, we’re doing this all by the numbers.”
“People heard something they thought was unusual,” the cop added. “When we talked to them, they said it sounded like gunfire. The time was when you were already home, 9:20.” David Camm couldn’t believe his ears. “It’s wrong. It’s wrong. People are confused. You’re wrong guys. Wrong, wrong, wrong.” he stammered.
There Was Suspicious Blood Splatter on His Shirt
The shirt David gave the police had blood splattered on it. But not just any type of splatter, one that looked like it could appear only from a close-range gunshot. In his defense, David argued: “Any blood it’s got on it now came from either an impression of something I leaned on in the car, or it came off of Brad himself.”
But the police didn’t buy his explanation. Instead, they looked at him with pity and asked, “Did you try to clean off the blood? What about some bleach Dave? Did you use bleach?” David persistently repeated, “No, no, no, this is ridiculous, no.”
There Were Signs of Cleaning in the Garage
The crime scene looked like someone had tried to clean up the blood. The floor was semi-mopped, items in the garage were moved around, and his family members were either half-naked (his wife) or oddly dressed (Bradley and the unknown sweater).
The crime scene was one bizarre scenario. And police felt like the only person they could charge was David. They didn’t even look into the odd sweater or consider the fact that David had 11 alibis insisting he was at basketball that night. Sadly, David was an easy target.
A Child Abuser?
The worst accusation came after police discovered signs of trauma on David’s daughter Jill’s genitals. After that, they arrested the poor guy. Locked up in jail, David could do nothing but pray that the police would come to their senses and let him go.
Meanwhile, the prosecution began to formulate a timeline. They originally stated that the murders occurred around 9:20 or so when he arrived home after the basketball game. However, they had to change their version after autopsies revealed that the time of death had been between 7:30 and 8:30 pm.
They Came Up With Another Preposterous Theory
In light of the new evidence, the prosecutors stated that Dave had actually left the basketball game, driven home, killed his family, driven back, and then went back to play ball. They argued that this was proven by a call made by David’s phone to a customer at around 7:20 pm.
They also said that the crime scene was staged. Kim’s pants were taken off, but they said that Dave was just trying to make it look like a home invasion, as if some random stranger assaulted his wife and kids. He’s an ex-cop, they argued; of course he knows how to make a crime scene look legit.
David’s Affairs Came Back to Haunt Him
Another thing held against poor David was the affair that he had had YEARS BEFORE. Infidelity does not necessarily lead a man to murder his family. But the prosecutors still believed it was a good thing to bring up in court.
As it turns out, a few weeks before Kim was killed, she had made a call to a friend to tell her that history was repeating itself. Kim didn’t explain what she meant by that, but the friend took it to mean one thing – he was cheating on her.
They Brought Over a Dozen Women to Testify Against Him
The trial began in February 2002, and the prosecutor’s first big move was to bring over a dozen women to testify against David. The women claimed that while he was a cop, he had been hitting on them, sleeping with them, and fooling around. They said he used his police badge for no good.
The defense knew they couldn’t argue against David’s affairs. So, instead, they focused on defending the blood splatter accusation. They said his shirt was stained that way because it likely brushed against Jill’s hair when he was trying to get Bradley out of the car.
What About the Phone Call at 7:19 PM?
As it turns out, the time the prosecutors gave as evidence was incorrect. The clock said 7:19 pm due to the different time zones in Indiana. Indiana has two time zones – eastern and central. So, the 7:19 time stamp of David’s phone call was actually 6:19.
This meant that David wasn’t on the phone at 7 in the evening. It also confirmed the fact that he was indeed at basketball practice. As if that wasn’t evidence enough, there were 11 people at the game that night. All of them said he was there the whole time.
Could He Have Slipped Out That Night?
Prosecutors weren’t willing to let the fact that he was shooting hoops ruin their case. They pointed out again that because the court where David played basketball was just a few minutes walk from his home, he likely slipped away from the game unnoticed.
David’s defense tried their best to argue against it but found that the prosecutor’s aggressive nature swept the jury off their feet and reeled them in deeper and deeper to believing their baseless claims.
What About the Gray Sweatshirt Bradley Wore?
Police ended up sending it to the lab, where it was analyzed. DNA was found, but there was no match. From that point on, no one took any interest in it anymore. The gray sweatshirt Bradley wore was completely overlooked, even though it was suspicious because no one knew who it belonged to.
Even though there was no DNA match, the sweater did hold some serious clues. The nickname “backbone” was written on the collar. Unfortunately, that was also overlooked. The sweatshirt lead went nowhere.
He Was Sentenced to 195 Years in Prison
Ultimately, after deliberating for three days, the jury returned with a verdict. David was found guilty of murdering his family and was sentenced to 195 years in prison. But this wasn’t the end of his case. His attorney immediately filed an appeal.
In August 2004, the Court of Appeals overturned David’s unjust conviction because the testimonies from the women who spoke against David had completely biased the jury and, frankly, had little to do with whether he murdered his family.
A Man With a Foot Fetish
David’s defense team seized the second chance they got and focused this time on the DNA found on the grey sweatshirt. This time, after running it through CODIS, they got a match. The DNA belonged to a man named Charles Boney.
Boney was a convicted felon with a nasty history of attacking women and – surprise, surprise – stealing their shoes. As it turns out, Boney had a weird foot fetish. This fell perfectly in line with the fact that Kim’s shoes were found on top of her car.
“Backbone” Was Free at the Time of the Slaying
Charles Boney had been to prison several times and was given the nickname “Backbone,” the same name that was written on the sweatshirt. Fittingly, at the time of the Camm family murder, Boney was out and about, roaming the streets as a free man.
Moreover, Boney’s handprint was spotted inside Kim’s vehicle. Put together, that evidence was enough to have him arrested. In March 2005, he was charged with murder of the Camm family.
He Gave Several Accounts
In the interrogation room, Charles recognized the grey sweatshirt as his. But he insisted that he had no idea what it was doing there. “I donated it to the Salvation Army,” he told the cops. His ridiculous answer was utterly unsatisfying.
After police informed him that they had found his handprint at the crime scene, he changed his story. This time, he said that he had indeed been there that night, but he hadn’t shot them. David had.
He Sold David the Gun
Charles Boney insisted that he had arrived that night to sell David Camm a gun. He said he wrapped the gun in the gray sweater and handed it to David, who, according to Boney, was the mastermind behind the vicious shooting.
Boney then told them that he left David, walked away, and suddenly heard three gunshots fire. Following Boney’s confession, David Camm was arrested once again. He was charged with murder and conspiracy.
He Was Found Guilty… Again
During David’s second trial, the prosecution went back to David’s shirt, claiming that the blood splatters were evidence enough to have him charged.
As for Charles Boney, he went on trial and was found guilty, even though most people felt like he wasn’t the killer. Nonetheless, he was sentenced to 225 years.
David Camm, on the other hand, was still viewed as the killer. This time around, the theory was that he had been molesting his daughter when Kim found out and threatened to leave him. So, he killed them all.
Life in Prison Without Parole
David Camm was sentenced to life in prison without parole on March 29, 2006. However, three years later, in the summer of 2009, Camm’s conviction was overturned once again “due to speculative evidence.”
The Indiana Court of Appeals claimed that “Missing from this record is any competent evidence of the premise that the defendant molested the child.” It was decided that David Camm deserved a third trial. Hopefully, David prayed, this one would turn out differently.
His Third and Final Trial
In the fall of 2012, David Camm’s third trial began. His defense team came prepared with a bundle of evidence pointing out that Boney’s DNA was on Kim Camm’s arm and underwear. Moreover, they attacked the so-called “blood splatter expert,” stating that he was a “complete and utter fraud.”
The prosecutors, on the other hand, had a different theory up their sleeves. This time, they claimed that David’s motivation for murdering his family was to cash in on Kim’s life insurance. A very convenient theory, but again, one that was totally baseless.
Charles Boney Testified Against Him
During the third trial, Charles Boney accused David Camm of trying to murder him. He testified against him in front of the courtroom, claiming that David had lured him out of the house before shooting his family.
Then, Boney explained, David turned the gun on him and threatened to kill him. According to Boney, he shoved David out of the way, tripped over Kim’s shoes, which he then placed on top of the car, and fled the scene.
What About Boney’s DNA on Kim’s Underwear?
The defense team wasn’t affected by Boney’s lies. They had enough genetic material on their hands to call out his bluff. An expert named Dr. Richard Eikelenboom stated that he found Boney’s DNA on Kim’s underwear and on the arm of her shirt.
Not only that, but Boney’s genetic material was also found on the front of Jill’s shirt. These results exposed Boney’s lies. He had said before that he never touched the victims. Clearly, that wasn’t true.
Another Floating Theory…
With the DNA evidence pushing Boney into the forefront, the prosecution had to think fast. This time, they introduced yet another creative theory. They argued that while David might not have killed his family, he had, at the very least, “aided and abetted” Boney.
The defense objected to the prosecution’s new theory, arguing that there was complete lack of evidence that Camm and Boney had ever met. (Boney had said earlier that he and Camm had met at a basketball game, yet there was no evidence back that up.)
An Inconsistent Battle
The third trial shed light on the weak prosecution. They kept coming up with different versions and creative ways to fill in the holes and gaps that were slowly forming around them. Without realizing it, the prosecution was completely contradicting itself.
Their new theory that Camm had simply aided Boney, meant that the whole blood splatter evidence was wrong. “This aiding and abetting: they don’t have any evidence to support it. It’s really inconsistent with their proof,” claimed defense attorney Steve Romines.
Third Time’s a Charm
On October 24, 2013, the jury found David Camm not guilty of all charges. His attorneys described it as a “vindication.” “This jury was a smart jury,” one attorney stated. David Camm eventually won a settlement of 450,000 dollars, as reported by The Courier Journal in 2016.
Amazingly, after three gruesome trials and 13 years in prison, David Camm walked out of the courtroom a free man. By that time, NBC News announced that the whole saga had cost an “estimated $4.5 million.”
Camm Demanded $30 Million in Damages
A year after his acquittal, David Camm sued the police and some of Indiana’s experts. He had spent 13 years in prison and wasn’t willing to let that go. David fought for $30 million in damages following an unlawful investigation and imprisonment.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt rejected David’s claims. She said that the state’s experts properly assumed that the evidence (like the blood splatter) pointed towards David, and that no official was trying to frame him on purpose.
As for the Ruling of Charles Boney…
Attorney General Curtis Hill praised the fact that Charles Boney is locked up and said that he doesn’t believe anyone will try and get him out of there. “Police investigators and prosecutors properly charged this individual with murder,” he stated.
“I hope the dismissal of this lawsuit helps assure our brave officers that both state and federal laws protect them whenever they are discharging their duties in good faith,” Hills added. As of today (2021), Charles Boney is still locked up.
The Public’s Response
The public reaction to the third and final verdict has been mixed. Several Louisville and Southern Indiana residents who followed the extensive media coverage were actually taken aback by the jury’s decision to let David Camm go.
A local from the area told the news: “A lot of people are — just like I am — completely shocked, and a lot of people think that he should not be out.” It’s hard to pinpoint why, but a lot of people believe David Camm should still be behind bars.
Some People Think Otherwise
The Camm family murder has garnered a lot of attention from groups fighting against wrongful convictions. They believe that David’s previous convictions were an absolute miscarriage of justice. In agreement, WDRB Media President Bill Lamb stated:
“I once wondered why any accused killer could possibly deserve so many ‘do-overs’. Well, now we have the answer: When they’re not guilty.” Lamb believes that the State police clearly had a hard time admitting they had made a mistake.
Massive Media Coverage
The Camm family case has been covered widely in the media. In 2014, NBC dedicated a two-hour special covering the case called Mystery on Lockart Road. The crime has also been covered three times on the show 48 Hours on CBS.
The case has not only reached the small screen, but it’s also found its way into two books called One Deadly Night (2005) and Searching for Justice (2013). The murder has also been referenced in a chapter in Jane Velez-Mitchell’s book Secrets Can Be Murder: The Killer Next Door.
The Blood Spatter Evidence Was Widely Criticized
The blood spatter found on David Camm’s shirt was taken to be the ultimate evidence that he killed his family. However, blood splatter as a reliable piece of evidence has come under a lot of criticism over the years.
A report released by the National Academy of Sciences highlighted the tendency of blood analysts to overstate and exaggerate the reliability of their findings in front of a courtroom. Blood spatter should never be the reason someone goes to prison.
Blood Splatter Is Essentially Guesswork
Dr. Robert Shaler argued that blood spatter analysis was total guesswork in the Camm family case. “The problem in this case is the number of stains are minimal,” he reported; “I think you’re really on the edge of reliability.”
In other words, categorizing blood stain pattern analysis as a science is kind of a stretch. The main problem with it is that there is never enough supporting evidence to back up your conclusions. There’s usually a 50% error rate.
Perjury in the First Two Trials
Evidence of misconduct concerning the blood spatter was revealed when, in the third trial, crime scene photographer Rob Stites testified and admitted that he had perjured himself in the previous two trials. He had previously stated that he was an expert blood splatter – but that was completely false.
Rob claimed he was a professor at Portland State University who was in the process of getting his Ph.D. However, those credentials were nothing more than fabrications. Stites asserted that Floyd County Prosecutor Stan Faith created those fraudulent credentials for him.
Rob Stite Was an Unreliable Source
Rob continued to shock the courtroom during the third trial after he revealed that he was sent to the crime scene to photograph and take notes, despite his lack of formal training in the field as a crime scene analyst.
Rob was an unreliable source, yet authorities took his notes seriously and tagged him as an expert in analyzing blood splatters. “It was a dumb thing… In hindsight, I would have kept my mouth shut,” he told the courtroom.
The Prosecution Was Heavily Criticized
Several legal experts have shared their opinions regarding the way the case was handled. Shawn Boyne, a professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, said that the Camm trials are a perfect example of the problems within the American justice system.
He stated that the judges allowed the prosecutors to bring forth “specious claims of motive designed to paint the defendant with a broad stroke of guilt and moral condemnation and overcome a lack of physical evidence.”
The Prosecution Should Have Dropped the Charges
Instead, the prosecutors kept changing their theory. The first time around, they said that David was the killer and that he acted alone. The second time they said that David was the shooter, and Boney helped him out. And then, in the third trial, they said Boney was the killer, and David helped him out.
Louisville defense attorney Steve Romines reported: “The problem is… in three trials, with the same proof, they’ve had three different theories,” adding, “Proof doesn’t change. If you have proof beyond a reasonable doubt, you argue the same thing throughout. You don’t have to constantly shift your theory to fit your proof.”
Errors Upon Errors Upon Errors
There were a host of errors in evidence collection. During the third trial, the defense argued that the case was full of critical mistakes, both in the investigation of Charles Boney as a suspect and in collecting evidence from the crime scene.
For example, the grey sweater Bradley wore revealed Charles Boney’s DNA, as well as his girlfriend’s DNA and his prison nickname, Backbone. How did the system miss it the first time around? It’s unclear why the investigative team didn’t look into it more.
Charles Boney’s Stories Were Full of Contradictions
The defense insisted that the officers led Boney to say certain things. For example, the gun wrapped in the sweatshirt? That was likely a fabrication sold to Boney by one of the officers. Recordings of Boney’s interrogations clearly show that the officers were pushing forward all sorts of scenarios.
Dr. Kim Rossmo testified during the third trial and stated that Boney was never investigated properly. None of his claims were ever truly verified. According to Dr. Rossmo, Boney was treated “as an anomaly to their theory, that somehow had to be explained away.”
Charles Boney Had Around Six Different Confessions
Charles Boney never ended up telling the truth about what happened. He did, however, bring forth six different versions. Every time he spoke, it was as if he was adding a bit more to his story just so he could get around the contradictions.
In conclusion, most of the oversights were likely caused by “confirmation bias” – a tendency humans have to believe stuff that confirms one’s preconceived notions and overlook information that doesn’t.
The Police Were Swayed by Misleading Evidence
The police covering the Camm family case were clearly swayed by the early misleading evidence, and upon realizing that, they felt it was too late to take it back. It was as if they had to stick to their first conclusion no matter what.
Luckily, unlike the previous ones, the jurors in the third trial saw right through the police’s biased and self-confirming behavior. “They tried to make the evidence fit their theory of the case,” one juror said in an interview.