When facing the end, it's time to come clean - at least that's what happened for numerous individuals who committed some pretty heinous and noteworthy acts. Admissions of murder, theft, and the forging of famous photos are just some of the shocking deathbed confessions that have come down to us through history.
It's hard to tell if all of these confessions are true, but several of them provided answers to seemingly unanswerable questions, offered resolutions to previously cold cases, or gave families much-needed closure. These last words definitely left an impression.
James Washington Thought He Was At The End And Confessed To Murder - But He Survived
In 2009, Nashville prison inmate James Washington suffered a heart attack (or a seizure attack, according to some outlets), an experience that prompted him to confess to the slaying of Joyce Goodener in 1995. Washington, in prison for a second degree murder conviction from 2006, thought he was at the end. Either in an attempt to find absolution or as an act of pure desperation, Washington told a prison guard that he ended Goodener, a woman that had been found brutally slain in Nashville, TN, 17 years earlier.
Washington recovered from his ailment and tried to take back his confession, claiming he was hallucinating. He was put on trial, where it came out that Washington had been in a relationship with Goodener. After a three-day trial, Washington was convicted, and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
KKK Member Henry Alexander Denied Involvement In Willie Edwards Jr.'s Slaying - Until His Final Moments
In 1957, four Ku Klux Klan members grabbed truck driver Willie Edwards Jr. and forced him to jump off the Tyler-Goodwin Bridge near Montgomery, AL. Edwards, only 25 at the time, had stopped for something to drink on the way back from a delivery when he was forced out of his truck at gunpoint and into their car.
The Ku Klux Klan members claimed Edwards had "offended a white woman" and beat him as they drove to the bridge high above the Alabama River. Once they arrived at their destination, they made Edwards get out of the car and told him to jump or be shot. Edwards jumped 125 feet; he didn't survive.
One of the four men that took part, Raymond Britt, confessed to the crime in 1976. He was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony against his three companions, Sonny Kyle Livingston, Henry Alexander, and James York. None of the men were ever convicted, however, and the charges against them were thrown out not once, but twice. Alexander, according to his widow, Diane, finally admitted to her that he'd been one of the men who forced Edwards to jump.
According to Diane, her husband not only played a part in the slaying, but was the one who falsely identified him as the man that "offended a white woman," prompting the action against him. Alexander told his wife "I didn't think he would jump... if he'd a run, they would never have shot him." Alexander was remorseful and just before he died said, "I had no business hating the blacks... they've never done anything to me."
Ottis Toole Confessed To Slaying A 6-Year-Old Right Before He Passed
Six-year-old Adam Walsh vanished from a Sears department store on July 27, 1981. He was on a shopping trip with his mother, who let her son out of her sights for a few minutes, never to see him again. The search for Walsh led to the discovery of the boy's head in a canal over 100 miles away from the Hollywood, FL, mall where he disappeared. His body was never discovered.
Walsh's father, John Walsh, became an advocate for missing children as the host of America's Most Wanted, and never gave up when it came to finding the person responsible. There were several suspects, one of whom was Ottis Toole. According to the Walshes, however, the investigation was botched. Toole had been partnered with another serial slayer named Henry Lee Lucas, and both men confessed to countless grisly acts over the years.
Toole, in prison for another slaying soon after Adam's, twice confessed, but recanted both times. Despite this, John Walsh always believed Toole was responsible. It was only in his final moments that Toole told his niece he'd done it.
Christopher Smith Lived With His Guilt For Over 20 Years
In 1975, Joan Harrison was raped and fatally beaten in Preston, England. Harrison was the mother of two children, and worked as a sex worker. Her body was found in a garage and the acts was attributed to the Yorkshire Ripper, later identified as Peter Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe was convicted of slaying 13 women between 1976 and 1981. He did not do the same to Harrison, however.
In 2008, convicted sex offender Christopher Smith was arrested for a DUI offense. From that arrest, authorities were able to collect DNA evidence that later matched DNA from Harrison's body. In the interim, Smith passed from lung cancer - but not before scrawling out a confession of sorts. The note, discovered by police after Smith's passing, read:
Two how (sic) ever it concerns I would like to put the record straight. I can't go on with the guilt.
I have lived with it for over 20 years.
I am truly sorry for all the pain I have caused to anyone. Please believe me when I say I am sorry.
I love my grandkids and my daughter. I cannot go back to prison anymore. Please God help my family who I worship. I have been out of trouble for over 20 years so please Gold help me.
I am so sorry. God forgive me. I love you all forever.
After the DNA match was confirmed, police took this note as a confession.