Wednesday, April 23, 2014
The Associated Press
LINCOLN, Neb. – The author of a book about a Nebraska serial killer executed in the state's electric chair in 1996 has sued the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services to try to force it to release the condemned man's disturbing drawings.
In this June 1996 file photo, condemned child killer John Joubert talks during a prison interview on June 10, 1996. Joubert, a former Boy Scout leader, tormented and killed three boys. (AP Photo/Omaha World-Leader, Jeffrey Z. Carney)
Author Mark Pettit, a former investigative reporter, says in the lawsuit that the prisons department has repeatedly refused to release the drawings by John Joubert, citing state confidentiality laws. The drawings purportedly depict Joubert's fantasies to kill again.
Joubert was sentenced to die for the Bellevue-area stabbing deaths of two young boys, ages 12 and 13, weeks apart in 1983. Following his conviction in Nebraska, a jury in Maine found him guilty of the 1982 murder of 11-year-old Richard "Ricky" Stetson, whose body was found on the side of Interstate 295 in Portland the day after he disappeared after going running.
Pettit, the author of "A Need to Kill: The True-Crime Account of John Joubert, Nebraska's Most Notorious Serial Child Killer," says in the lawsuit that the public has a compelling interest and a right to see the drawings.
"These illustrations prove the state of Nebraska did the right thing by executing Joubert," Pettit told the Lincoln Journal Star. "They leave no doubt that he was fantasizing about killing more children and likely would have done so if ever released from prison."
Dawn Renee Smith, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, declined to comment on the lawsuit Friday, saying the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
Joubert, a Massachusetts native, told Pettit during a series of interviews that he continued to have fantasies about killing children even after being sentenced, Pettit said. He said Joubert expressed the fantasies in two graphic drawings that were confiscated by prison authorities.
In February 1988, Joubert wrote to prison officials authorizing them to release the drawings to Pettit for analysis by a mental health professional.
But citing pending appeals to his convictions, prison officials refused to do so.
Earlier this year, ahead of the 30th anniversary of the murders, prison officials again turned down Pettit's request to make the drawings public, prompting Pettit to sue.
One official supporting the call for the drawings to be released is Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov, who was chief deputy sheriff in the county at the time Joubert killed the boys in his jurisdiction.
"It should be in the public domain," Polikov told the newspaper. "I think it should be released."