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Book details
  • Genre:TRUE CRIME
  • SubGenre:Murder / Serial Killers
  • Language:English
  • Pages:256
  • Format:Paperback
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098327842

Frame-up to Freedom- the story of the Duck Island murder case

by Lee Josephson

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Overview
In a stockade the Black private signed. By day private Clarence Hill was a hard working, never arrested, church-going father. But by night, by night Hill waited in the woods for lovers to park so he could murder the men and rape white women. In the America of 1944 the execution was certain, if the all-white jury could free itself from Hill's testimony of brutality and exhaustion in a stockade that led him to sign false confessions. A white jury soothed a troubled conscience by adding a recommendation of leniency in sentencing to a verdict of guilty of murder. And the Judge sentenced a confessed, Black serial killer to life with possible parole after 14 years. Frustrated by years of legal inactivity, Hill contacted Leon Josephson (the author's father), a Marxist attorney released from prison in 1949 after serving 9 months for contempt of the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities To cope with prison life Hill lived off the hope, the hope brought by his "new children," the young Negroes of the civil rights movement unfolding beyond prison walls. Beginning in 1959, the parole board demanded Hill refrain from publicizing his story, that he was forced to sign the false confessions that forever closed the Duck Island murder case. By 1959 Josephson was Hill's attorney and only friend. "Mr. Josephson, I won't let it stand, the story that a normal Negro like me is really a murdering monster out to get himself some white girls. Ready to be used on some poor Negro again when they got some more bit-time sex crimes and no white men to accuse. We must be cleared of what we was accused of long ago. These days, Mr. Josephson, we got freedom on the mind."
Description
Part I: In 1983, the author's mother gives him the papers of Leon Josephson (d. 1966) which included decades of legal research on the Duck Island murder case (1938-1966). Also included are documents concerning Josephson's encounters between 1947 and 1959 with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Due to a legal quirk, Leon Josephson served 9 months in a high security Federal penitentiary in Milan, Michigan but emerged a member of the New Jersey bar. Part II: The lives and deaths of the victims connected to a figure known as the Duck Island murderer are described. They are white men and women of Trenton, 30 to 40 years old, attacked along isolated lovers lanes in Pennsylvania and NJ between 1938 and 1942. They are most often with their lovers, not their spouses, when a man with a shotgun emerges from woods and blows them away. In 1944 after weeks of brutality in the stockade at Fort Dix (Dix is near Trenton), private Clarence Hill signs confessions covering all 5 attacks police have attributed to the Duck Island murderer. Based on his confessions (lacking a murder weapon and an eye-witness), Hill is convicted of the murder of Mary Mytovich in 1938 on Duck Island near Trenton. But the all-white jury is troubled and recommends leniency in sentencing. Having signed confessions covering 6 murders and 3 rapes, Hill is sentenced to life with eligibility for parole in 1959. He is indicted for all he confessed to in NJ and PA. The Duck Island case is closed and the many prominent white suspects are exonerated. Mainstream civil rights and civil liberties organizations want nothing to do with Clarence Hill or the two army Colonels who testified to the politeness of the interrogation civilian police conducted in their stockade. Lacking money and organizational support, Hill finds a friend and attorney in Leon Josephson, America'a most controversial Communist attorney. Josephson was imprisoned for contempt of the House of Representatives from March 1948 until January 1949. The FBI monitors Leon Josephson closely and fears Duck Island will now become a cause celebre for the US Communist Party. Leon Josephson tells his son, the author: "I only take cases where I can prove the real criminals are those in police uniforms." In Duck Island, Josephson came across the perfect case to teach his young son his views of the capitalist criminal justice system. Part III: Clarence Hill's confessions are ruled inadmissable by a NJ court and the indictments he is facing for the 5 murders he has confessed to, but has never been tried for, are dropped. To cope with prison life Hill lives off the hope from his "new children," the young Negroes of the civil rights movement unfolding beyond prison walls. Beginning in 1959, the parole board demands Hill refrain from publicizing his story, that false confessions forever closed the Duck Island murder case. By 1959 Josephson is Hill's attorney and only friend. "Mr. Josephson, I won't let it stand, the story a normal Negro is really a murdering monster out to get himself some white girls. Ready to be used on some poor Negro again when they got more big-time sex crimes and no white men to accuse. We must be cleared of what we was accused of long ago. These days, Mr. Josephson, we got freedom on the mind." Denied parole, Hill is finally released (1964) on medical parole suffering from throat cancer. Josephson pleads Hill's case to the Sloan-Kettering Cancer in NYC. Shocked and saddened that Duck Island could happen in America, Sloan provides Hill medical care, but living with a hole in his throat, and unable to work (a barber), Hill becomes depressed. Josephson again pleads Hill's case to Sloan which gives a confessed serial murderer a job sweeping floors around the bedridden. Happy to have a small Trenton apartment and job with health insurance, Hill dies in 1973 from cancer.
About the author
Lee Josephson is a biomedical researcher specializing in the biology and chemistry of medical imaging. He is a co-author on more than 100 refereed papers (see Pubmed), a co-inventor on over 30 issued US patents, and a co-founder of several biotech companies. He has been fascinated by the most famous serial murder case of the late 1930's, the Duck Island murder case, since his boyhood in the 1950's. "Frameup to Freedom" was written to correct the version of the Duck Island promulgated by the "victors," the victors of history. These were the law enforcement agencies of New Jersey and Pennsylvania who worked with high ranking officers of the US army to turn a model Black citizen-soldier into a serial murderer and rapist, and then posed as community protectors for having done so. This is Josephson's first work in the field of true crime.
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