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Missouri AG Challenges Sandra Hemme's Release After 43 Years in Prison

 July 10, 2024

Sandra "Sandy" Hemme, wrongfully convicted of murder, faces a new legal hurdle as the Missouri attorney general's office attempts to delay her release.

Hemme, now 64, was ordered to be released from prison after a judge found her innocent, but the Missouri AG's office is fighting the decision, as the Daily Mail reports.

Conviction and Imprisonment

In 1980, Hemme was convicted of the murder of Patricia Jeschke and sentenced to life imprisonment. Jeschke’s body was discovered on Nov. 13, 1980, by her mother in Jeschke’s apartment, prompting an investigation led by St. Joseph police chief Robert Hayes. Hemme has spent the past 43 years behind bars for the crime.

On July 8, a panel of appeals court judges ordered her release after Judge Ryan W. Horsman found Hemme innocent.

Horsman stated that officials at the time coerced Hemme into making false statements. "She is the victim of a manifest injustice," said Judge Horsman.

Judge Orders Release

Hemme’s release was mandated to occur within 30 days unless prosecutors chose to retry her. The appeals court instructed Horsman to establish Hemme's bail terms and release her, despite granting Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s request to review the judge’s decision.

The AG's office argued that the court did not provide sufficient time to argue against Hemme’s release.

Bailey's office also claimed Hemme should serve a 12-year sentence for violent actions in prison. Hemme's attorneys, however, described continued incarceration as a "draconian outcome."

Questions Surrounding the Conviction

Judge Horsman found that Hemme was heavily sedated and mentally vulnerable when questioned by investigators. Her confession, which came after multiple contradictory statements, was reportedly coerced and monosyllabic.

"This Court finds that the totality of the evidence supports a finding of actual innocence," concluded Judge Horsman.

Significantly, police ignored evidence pointing to a discredited officer, Michael Holman, who died in 2015. The prosecution was also not informed about exculpatory FBI results. Nothing linked Hemme to the crime other than her coerced confession.

Timeline of Events

Hemme had left the hospital and hitchhiked out of town hours before Jeschke was last seen alive. She arrived that evening at her parents' home, more than 100 miles away. Despite these facts, Hemme was convicted and imprisoned.

In a recent decision, the appeals court judges ordered Hemme’s release, highlighting the manifest injustice she suffered. However, the Missouri AG’s office is challenging this order, creating a delay in her release.

Continuing Legal Battles

The attorney general's office contends that Hemme's release could be harmful, pointing to her alleged violent actions in prison. Hemme's defense team argues that these claims are baseless and emphasize her wrongful imprisonment. Hemme is currently the longest-held wrongly incarcerated woman in the United States, according to the Innocence Project.

As the legal battles continue, Hemme's future remains uncertain. Her attorneys are fighting to ensure that the court's decision to release her is upheld, while the Missouri AG's office is determined to keep her behind bars.

Impact on Hemme and Legal Precedents

The case of Sandra Hemme highlights significant issues in the criminal justice system, particularly regarding coerced confessions and wrongful convictions. Hemme's situation sheds light on the need for reform and the importance of ensuring that justice is served fairly and accurately.

For now, Hemme waits in prison as the legal proceedings unfold. Her case continues to garner attention and support from advocacy groups and the public, who hope to see her finally walk free after more than four decades of wrongful imprisonment.


The story of Sandra Hemme is a tragic example of a wrongful conviction that has led to decades of imprisonment. Despite a judge's ruling declaring her innocence and ordering her release, the Missouri attorney general's office is fighting to keep her incarcerated.

Hemme’s case brings to light critical issues within the justice system, emphasizing the need for reforms to prevent similar injustices in the future. The outcome of this legal battle will not only impact Hemme’s life but also set a precedent for how wrongful convictions are addressed in the United States.