On November 3rd, in 1998, 8-year-old Maddie Clifton disappeared without a trace from Jacksonville, Florida. When she was reported missing, the police immediately began searching for her. They started by interviewing the nearby neighbors.
Almost immediately, the authorities had one particular neighbor in mind. The reason being that the ‘neighbor’ had been arrested and charged, more than 15 years earlier in two sexual battery cases, although both times the charges against him had been dropped.
Did They Get Their Man
Not exactly. Turns out that that particular ‘neighbor’ had an air tight alibi. So the search for the missing little girl went on.
Hundreds of volunteers spent hundreds of hours in their search for little Maddie. They scoured the woods and dumpsters all around the neighborhood and searched in damn near every crack and crevice they could think of. And still they found nothing.
What Happened Next
One week later the search ended. Maddie had been found. And in the most unlikely of places.
Melissa Phillips thought her 14 year old son’s waterbed was leaking. So, she went into to his room to check out the situation. When she looked under the bed, she freaked. The bed wasn’t leaking at all. But Maddies rapidly decaying corpse was. Melissa ran out of the house and straight to the police.
Joshua Phillips Gets Arrested
Joshua Phillips was at school when his mother discovered Maddie’s dead body under his bed. The police didn’t let that fact stop them though. They arrested him right there.
Everyone was completely shocked. Joshua Phillips had absolutely no history of violence and no one wanted to believe that he could be capable of murder.
But He Was. And He Did
Joshua confessed to the police that he had murdered Maddie but insisted that it started off with an accident. He claimed that they had been playing together and he had accidentally hit her in the head with a baseball. Joshua said he panicked. So, he carried her into the house and took her into his bedroom. He laid her on the floor and she started to make noises and cry out loudly. Joshua said he was afraid of his dad’s reaction if he found out Maddie was in the house. He said he was scared and he didn’t want to get into trouble for hurting her. So, in a panic, he beat her with a baseball bat and stabbed her in an attempt to quiet her cries. He then hid her body under his bed.
Police were able to retrieve both the bat and the knife used in the assault.
When asked, years later, how he could go on with his life with Maddie’s dead body hidden in his bedroom, he said ‘he just ignored it.’
Joshua Phillips Goes On Trial
At 15, Joshua Phillips, was charged with first degree murder in the death of his 8-year-old neighbor, Madelyn ‘Maddie’ Clifton. Due to the severity of the crime, he was charged and tried as an adult.
Joshua was convicted of the first degree murder and, on August 20th, 1999, he was sentenced to life in prison without ever having a chance of parole.
Some Things Have Changed
In 2005, new hearing dates were set for Joshua Phillips. The goal is to at least have the charges reduced to second degree murder, so that Joshua might one day be eligible for parole.
His case is still going through the appeal process and, at the age of 28, Joshua Phillip is still in prison serving out his life sentence.
The U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling in 2012 that sentencing juveniles to a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole is unconstitutional. It is unknown at this point if Joshua’s lawyers will use this ruling to seek a new sentence but Josh does say that ‘if he could take it all back, he would.’
credit – owlcation