Joshua Phillips and Maddie Clifton

Joshua Phillips and Maddie Clifton

Joshua Phillips

Joshua Phillips

Born: March 17, 1984

The Murder of Maddie Clifton

American Juvenile Murderer

Crime Spree: November 3, 1998

Incarcerated at the Cross City Correctional Institution Florida

On November 3rd, in 1998, around 5:00pm., 8-year-old Maddie Clifton disappeared without a trace from Jacksonville, Florida. When she was reported missing a few hours later, the police immediately began searching for her. They started by interviewing the nearby neighbors.

The authorities had one particular neighbor in mind immediately. The reason being that this ‘neighbor’ had been arrested and charged, some 15 years earlier, in two sexual battery cases. Both of the cases had been dropped, but they went to see him anyway. The suspect, however, had an air tight alibi, and the search for Maddie Clifton hurried on.

Thousands of volunteers spent hundreds of hours searching for little Madelyn “Maddie” Clifton. They scoured the woods and surrounding neighborhood. Volunteers searched for six days for the little girl, but to no avail.

One week later, however, the search suddenly ended. Maddie Clifton had been found.

Maddie Clifton

Joshua Phillips

Joshua Earl Patrick Phillips was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on March 17, 1984, to Steve and Melissa Phillips. Steve Phillips, a bona fide drug addict and alcoholic, was extremely violent towards his wife and children, Joshua and Melissa, who both reported living in fear of him.

Steve imposed ridiculously strict rules on his children, got angry if they had other children in the house when he was not around and, for some unknown reason, particularly disliked young girls.

Eventually, Steve decided to relocate the family from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania to Florida, separating Joshua from his half-brothers, Daniel and Benjie.

Joshua Phillips

In November 1998, Joshua was 14 years old and living with his family in Jacksonville, Florida. Neighbors described him as “quiet and friendly”. His school teacher said he was a popular student who did not stand out, describing him as fun and silly.

Joshua Phillips and Maddie Clifton

During the week that little Maddie was considered missing and the neighborhood was spending most waking hours trying to discover her whereabouts, Joshua’s mother, Melissa Phillips, made a strange discovery of her own.

On November 10, Melissa discovered what she thought was Joshua’s water bed leaking. It was also filling his room with a terrible stench. When she looked under the bed, to find the source of the moisture and odor, she instantly freaked. The bed wasn’t leaking at all. But Maddie Clifton’s rapidly decaying corpse was.

Melissa Phillips immediately went to the police.

Joshua Phillips Gets Arrested

Joshua was in class when his mother discovered Maddie’s dead body under his bed. He was arrested later that same day at his school. Teachers and classmates alike, were all in utter disbelief of the accusation against him. But he confessed within hours.

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His Confession

After his arrest, Joshua Phillips confessed to the murder of Maddie Clifton. However, he insisted it all started out as a terrible accident.

According to Josh, on November 3, 1998, he was home alone when Maddie Clifton, the neighbor girl, and his friend, who lived across the road, came to his house asking him to play baseball with her.

Josh agreed, even though he knew he was not allowed to have friends over while his parents were away. But he went out to play anyway.

Joshua Phillips and Maddie Clifton

As the two were playing baseball, Joshua said he accidentally hit the ball into Clifton’s face, causing her to scream and cry out loudly. He said he instantly panicked, knowing full well his father would be home soon. He was terrified of his fathers reaction and knew he would become the recipient of his violent wrath.

Joshua then stated that he dragged Maddie into the house, saying the clothes came off Clifton’s lower body as he did so. He hit her with the baseball bat to stop her from screaming before putting her under the base of his bed. He then left his room.

When Steve arrived home, Joshua said he spoke with his father for a while, then went back into his bedroom. It was then he realized that Maddie was still alive and moaning under his bed. He removed the mattress and cut her throat with a Leatherman tool, before stabbing her in the chest seven times, to quiet her cries. Maddie Clifton was now dead. He pushed her body back beneath the bed.

Police and volunteers, including Joshua and his family, searched for Clifton for six days. All the while, Joshua knowing exactly where Maddie Clifton was. When he was asked how he could go on with his life with Maddie’s dead body hidden in his bedroom, he said “he just ignored it. I was putting myself in a fantasy world that nothing had happened.”

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Kids who Kill: Joshua Phillips

Kids who Kill: Joshua Phillips: True Crime Press Series 1, Book 1

8 year old Maddie Clifton has been murdered. Her killer, a child himself, beats her with a ball bat and stabs her to death. He then stuffs her corpse under the very bed he will spend the next week sleeping in. Then his mother discovers the truth about the missing little girl who lived across the road.

article Joshua Phillips and Maddie Clifton continued below

The Trial

Prosecutors disputed parts of Phillips’s story. The State Attorney suggested the murder may have been sexually motivated, saying that Phillips had talked about sexual matters with both Maddie Clifton and her older sister. 

The autopsy found no evidence of sexual assault, though prosecutors argued the lack of dirt and sand on Clifton’s body did not support Phillips’s assertion that her clothes came off as he dragged her into his room. She either walked in, or was carried in, and her clothes removed then.

Prosecutors also noted that no blood was found in the backyard, or on the baseball that Phillips said had struck Clifton with. Police however were able to retrieve both the baseball bat and the knife used as murder weapons.

article Joshua Phillips and Maddie Clifton continued below

article Joshua Phillips and Maddie Clifton continued below

At age 15, Joshua Phillips was tried as an adult. Phillips’s lawyer, Richard D. Nichols, did not call a single witness for the defense, a move the prosecutors later said was a surprising and risky strategy. Nichols never attempted to question Joshua over the events of the murder and discouraged his parents from allowing him to testify. Joshua Phillips therefore never spoke during his own trial.

The trial started on July 6, 1999, and lasted only two days, due to the defense calling no witnesses. Jurors took just over two hours to convict Joshua of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on August 20, 1999. Joshua was not eligible for death due to his young age.

Josh Phillips’ life sentence will be reviewed 25 years after his original conviction. That would have Phillips back in a courtroom in 2023.

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Source: wikipedia | murderpedia | |

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