(Editor's note: This is an analysis by the UIS Downstate Illinois Innocence Project of an interview with convicted serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells. Please understand that the following excerpts are graphic and may not be suitable for all readers. The entire interview was more than 80 pages. The references to page numbers in this excerpt are four specific pages in that interview. In the interest of good taste, expletives have been edited.)
An analysis of TOMMY LYNN SELLS'
[Joel Kirkpatrick was killed Oct. 13, two days before the Mahaney murder].
Sells was accurate about traveling through small towns from
[The neighborhood where Julie lived is upper middle-class].
[The subdivision is off Highway 1, the main street leading out of Lawrenceville].
Sells was accurate about a night light that allowed him to see inside the house.
Sells was accurate about taking the knife from a butcher block from a counter in the kitchen that contained other knives:
Murder weapon came from empty slot from butcher block.
Sells was accurate about using a knife that came from the victim's home:
didn't bring a weapon to and use what I came upon." (P. 31).
Sells accurately described seeing a bar inside the kitchen;
Sells accurately described finding the butcher block just as he entered the kitchen door:
Butcher block on counter next to stove.
Door from garage leads into kitchen (butcher block with knives is to left, not in view).
Sells said he went to the bedroom after passing through the kitchen.
Doorway in dinning room leads down hallway to bedroom.
Sells knew there was a "little corridor" leading to the bedroom:
(see interview transcript p. 20).
Sells recalled going down the corridor, the child's bedroom was to the left:
Sells gave an accurate description of Joel's bed being close to the wall:
Phegley: "Was the bed against the wall or was it . . ."
Sells said he crouched down; consistent with Julie's statement that an intruder jumped up:
Sells said he heard something; Julie said she called Joel's name:
Sells said she came straight at him; Julie said she went straight into the room:
Sells recalled it being dark in the bedroom and no light being on; Julie did not flip on the light:
In the bedroom, Sells said the woman tried to grip him; just as Julie described:
When he encountered her in the bedroom Sells said there was no punching-he backhanded the woman; the same description Julie gave to police:
Sgt. Pea: "Like you're getting slapped at or something like that instead of being punched?"
Sells was accurate about leaving the murder weapon behind, having dropped it during the struggle.
Sells said his only thought was to get away; Julie told police he acted like he wanted to get away:
When he encountered her in the bedroom Sells said the woman didn't scream; Julie said she tried to calm him down.
Sells accurately described the interior of the house, he knew there was a big living room as he fled from Joel's bedroom:
Sells: "I come out the same way I come in, but, there's a bigger room coming out cause I would say almost like a front room, sitting room." (p. 20).
Sells described hitting Julie, consistent with physical injuries that were inflicted on her.
During the struggle, Julie recalls that he was bent down; Sells described being bent down and she ran into him:
During the struggle Julie said she grabbed hold of his leg; just as Sells described:
In the backyard, Sells accurately stated there was a light source that lit up the back of the house; a security light was mounted on a pole in back of Julie's house.
Sell accurately described Julie's hair color:
Julie had rug burns on her knees, as one witness Nancy Seed, described, consistent with having been down on one knee and dragged by the assailant:
Sells and Julie both said she pursued him outside to the back of the house where he knocked her down to the ground.
Sgt. Pea: "And what was she doing when you saw her last?"
Outside the house Sells described increasing the intensity of his attack wanting to kill her; Julie also described the intensity increasing and felt he wanted to kill her:
Sgt. Pea: "You stunned her?"
Sells said at the time of the crime he was very thin build, 5'-7"; Julie described the assailant as being thin build between 5'7" and 5'11":
Sells accurately described Julie as thin:
The bandage on Julie's arm above the elbow covers a deep gash that required five sutures to close.
Both Sells and Julie had cut themselves during the struggle going out of the house:
There are several details that Sells does not accurately remember six years after the crime. His memory, clouded by years of drug and alcohol abuse, and the confusion that comes from having committed so many brutal and senseless murders, is understandably imperfect as to some of the minor details he is asked to recall.