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Jack Allen Carmen

In late August 1975, fourteen-year-old Christie Lynn Mullins was abducted from a shopping mall in Columbus, Ohio. She was raped and beaten to death with a board, and her body was found in a wooded area near the mall. Henry H. Newell, Jr. and his wife claimed they were walking through the woods at that time and saw a man who had been beating Mullins flee the scene. The Newells provided police with a physical description of the perpetrator. Based on this description, a composite sketch of the assailant was printed in the local newspapers.
 
Three days after the crime, a police officer stopped Jack Allen Carmen on the street due to Carmen’s resemblance to the composite sketch. Carmen, a 26-year-old severely mentally disabled man who lived at a foster facility run by the Volunteers of America, was immediately taken in for questioning. After being questioned by police without an attorney present and detained for five hours before his arrest, Carmen confessed to the crime. He later told reporters that he confessed because the police were being nice to him.
 
Carmen pleaded guilty on September 3, 1975 to charges of aggravated murder, rape, and kidnapping after prosecutors agreed they would not seek the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison.
 
Shortly after his conviction, ACLU attorneys took over Carmen’s representation. The new attorneys immediately filed to vacate Carmen’s sentence and withdraw his guilty plea. In January 1976, Carmen was granted a new trial. His attorneys sought to have his confession deemed inadmissible on the basis that he did not understand his constitutional rights given that he had an IQ of approximately 50.
 
In August 1977, the father of Christie Lynn Mullins filed a lawsuit against Carmen seeking $500,000 in actual damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages. Mr. Mullins claimed that he filed the lawsuit because he was looking for more information about what happened to his daughter and who else should be held accountable, for he did not believe Carmen alone could have committed this crime.
 
In September 1977, witness Henry H. Newell, Jr. was convicted of arson for burning his house down in order to collect insurance money, and it came to the attention of reporters that he had two previous convictions for similar crimes.
 
At Carmen’s December 1977 retrial, new testimony from family members of Henry H. Newell, Jr. contradicted Newell’s claims that he was a witness to Mullins’s beating, and a friend of Newell’s claimed that Newell had confessed to him that he had killed Christie Mullins, though he said he had intended only to knock her out. Additionally, the defense offered new evidence to show that Carmen was homosexual and nearly incapable of navigating the city, as well as testimony from witnesses who confirmed he was at a Volunteers of America shelter at the time of the crime. All of this evidence demonstrated that it was highly improbable that Carmen could have committed this crime, especially in the given time frame of events. Although the court refused to throw out Carmen’s confession, he was acquitted on all charges. After the acquittal, assistant prosecuting attorney James J. O’Grady stated that he considered the case closed and would not seek to prosecute Newell based on the new evidence raised at Carmen’s trial.
 
Following his acquittal, Carmen was released into the care of Graham LeStourgeon, director of the Volunteers of America, who said he would provide Carmen with a place to live until he could be placed in a group home.
 
In November 2015, after an intensive cold case investigation, the Columbus police department called a press conference to announce that, based on new evidence and their reinvestigation of the crime, they had determined that Henry H. Newell, Jr., now deceased, had murdered Christie Lynn Mullins over forty years earlier. They apologized to the Mullins family for the “shoddy” police work that had allowed this case to remain open and Newell to remain free for so many decades.
 
- Meghan Barrett Cousino
State:OH
County:Franklin
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Reported Crime Date:1975
Convicted:1975
Exonerated:1977
Sentence:Life
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:26
Contributing Factors:False Confession, Perjury or False Accusation