The Horrifying Story Of The Boy Who Survived The Bonebreaker Killer

On a summer evening in 1995, a teen boy named Thad Phillips was abducted from his Wisconsin home by an older teen named Joe Clark. Phillips would go on to endure two days of torture at the hands of Clark before barely escaping alive.

Joe Clark would later earn the alias the “Bonebreaker Killer” for the stunning acts of violence he committed against Phillips. A police investigations would reveal that Clark had murdered at least one other teenager, and that he had plans to end the lives of many more. Joe Clark may have very well succeeded in carrying out more violent crimes had it not been for Thad Phillips intense will to survive. 

  • In 1995, Joseph Clark Kidnapped 13-Year-Old Thad Phillips

    On the evening of July 29, 1995, 13-year-old Thadius “Thad” Phillips was sleeping on the couch with his sister in their new home in Baraboo, Wisconsin. When someone picked Phillips up off the couch, he assumed it was his father carrying him to bed, which was a common occurrence.

    Disoriented when he woke up, Phillips found he was outside with an unfamiliar, older teen boy. The boy seemed friendly, asking if Phillips could help him with his car. Phillips, still sleepy and confused, went with the boy back to his home, which was only a half mile from Phillips's new home. 

    Once there, the mysterious boy introduced himself as “Joe” and said he would soon throw a party. He named other boys Phillips knew and said they'd be there soon. In the meantime, he asked if Phillips wanted to check out his model cars upstairs. Phillips followed, unaware of the violence that awaited him.

  • Clark Tortured Phillips By Breaking His Bones For 43 Hours

    Once Phillips was upstairs, Clark reportedly shed his friendly teen persona. Clark, who was 17 years old, grabbed Phillips and threw him on a dirty bed, jumped on him, and grabbed him by the ankle. He then began to twist Phillips's foot around his leg until the bone above his ankle snapped and splintered.

    The torment inflicted upon Phillips was severe, occurring for hours at a time. Clark reportedly mistreated Phillips as a way to manage his daily frustrations. In one case, Clark's car wouldn't start, so he twisted Phillips's legs until they splintered, then broke the boy's knees, and even jumped on his chest.

    When Phillips tried to fight back or escape, the torment grew more brutal. Clark pushed a pillow over Thad's face to suffocate him. The abuse took place for approximately 43 hours.

  • Clark Told Thad He Enjoyed The Sound Of Bones Breaking

    After the initial attack broke Thad Phillips's leg near the ankle, Joe Clark threw the shocked boy on the couch downstairs. Phillips, trying to figure out an escape plan, told Clark he wouldn't tell anyone what had happened and that he'd say he tripped over a table. Clark maintained no one would believe this. 

    Phillips then attempted to reason with Clark, asking why he would do this. Clark said he enjoyed the sound and feeling of bones breaking at his whim. He said he'd done something like this before and described how much he loved it

  • Phillips Attempted To Escape Multiple Times

    During his 43 hours of captivity, Thad Phillips made at least two attempts to escape Joe Clark. The first attempt happened immediately after Clark broke Phillips's ankle. Phillips reportedly felt more shock then pain and was able to leap off the bed towards the stairs, but Clark quickly caught him. Phillips then suffered further injuries, including having his leg stretched back until his thigh bone fractured.

    In his second attempt, Phillips managed to crawl down the stairs and into the kitchen before Clark returned home with his girlfriend. The two reportedly watched television in the living room as Phillips hid in the kitchen, but Clark found Phillips as soon as the girl left. 

    After that, Phillips would be locked in a closet whenever Clark left the house.

  • Clark Would Act Like Him And Thad Were Friends

    In between his attacks on Phillips, Clark reportedly feigned friendship. During this downtime, Clark would carry Phillips to the couch so that the pair could watch movies together. Reportedly, he would talk as if nothing was wrong.

    Clark spoke about his family, his car, how he lived with his brother in his filthy house, and his girlfriend, who was in the house at the same time that Phillips was being held captive. 

    The most shocking revelation came when Clark told Phillips that he had already murdered two other boys.

  • Clark Pretended To Give Phillips Medical Care

    Aside from pretending to act like a friend, Clark also oscillated between torturing Phillips and giving care. After Clark would finish a session of breaking bones, he would take white socks and wrap them over Phillips's broken legs until they became thickly padded.

    Clark also forced Phillips to wear leg braces and attempt to walk around before beginning another cycle of torture. Phillips later said that Clark would “stomp” on his broken bones after tending to the wounds.