It’s been more than 40 years, but Kevin Strickland has no trouble remembering the details of the day he was arrested for three murders he always maintained he did not commit.
He shared those memories with The Star in an extensive interview over the weekend, just days after he was released from a Missouri prison.
Q. What do you remember about the day you were arrested?
A. Police came to my house. And they asked me would I be willing to come down and answer some questions. I asked if I had a choice and they said no. Wasn’t no rights read, wasn’t no handcuffs placed on me. I was placed in the backseat of a car. I’m pretty sure it was a detective car as opposed to a squad car. And I hadn’t done anything wrong. So I had no problem complying with their questions. And I engaged them in free conversation en route to the police station and while at the police station. I didn’t try to hide anything. I hadn’t done anything.
You were then charged with the murder of three people in a Kansas City apartment and eventually convicted after a mistrial. Two other men, Vincent Bell and Kilm Adkins, were also charged for the crime. After you were convicted, they pled guilty and told police that you had nothing to do with the murders. Were you aware of that at the time?
I learned that — I was convicted in April 1979 and transferred to the penitentiary in Jefferson City on July 9. I heard Bell pled guilty in August, and I received a copy of his transcript in September saying I wasn’t involved.
So you learned very quickly this information that seemed like it should set in motion your release from prison. What did you do then?
I bought stamps and was writing letters before I even left the county jail: “Somebody help me.” “I didn’t do this.” My mother and father would send stamps in the mail for me to do what I needed to do. I wrote letters to people in the country, out the country, whoever. Any lawyer’s name I saw on the TV — auto or insurance attorney, whoever. If it said they were attorneys, I would write to them.
Was anybody helping you? Were you doing all this yourself?
Nothing other than my family providing me with stamps. I was out there on my own. That’s all I had.