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But it's been more than three years since I got an email from a woman telling me about a man named Curtis Flowers and the Times since I moved to Mississippi, interviewed hundreds of people, examined every piece of evidence in the case against him. And yet, in all that time, there was one person I was never able to really talk to. Until now. So we are in the car on our way to talk to Curtis Flowers. Believe it or not, after all this time, kind of kind of crazy.


I'm Madeleine Brand and this is the final episode of Season two In the Dark. Curtis Flowers. All right, the other day I took a drive. I can't tell you exactly where I was, but I got out and set up in a backyard with the rest of it in the dark crew.


And I waited and then. Hello. Hi. Nice to meet you. Good morning. It is the one I wish I could shake your hand, but I can't.


I understand. Yeah. Thanks for coming over. How was the drive? It was. It was nice. It was nice.


We sat down in the backyard at a safe social distance. All right. Wow. We're finally talking. Yes. How does it feel? Physical. Yeah.


Are you at all nervous or. I'm kind of nervous. OK, OK. Well, we're just having conversation. If you want to take a break at any point, take a break and you can water if you need snacks, if you just want water and want snacks, whatever. Yes. We'll just take it slow and OK. Yeah. So.


All right. And we're outside, by the way, as we know.


But I should just say it, the reason we're outside is because of covid. OK, so we're in a strange setup, but this has been a strange case since it has. Maybe it makes sense. Yeah. What has it been like being out.


Oh my. Kind of overwhelming. Yeah, that's a good feeling. I'm happy to be home but yes.


Kicking it with family, you know, not going to tell you where exactly Curtis is living now because of concerns about his safety. But I can tell you confidently that Curtis is with people who love him and care about him. He's been spending a lot of time just hanging out, playing dominoes, exercising. He's lost weight since the last time I saw him. A friend had even bought him a treadmill. He's also been back to Wynona and he was finally able to meet his four year old nephew for the first time.


My nephew, Tryal, he and I talked on the phone all the time. And I had this thing where every time he answered the phone, I said, What's true? So he had never saw my face. And I remember walking into the house, he came over and I hear from him and I just he was subtree, you know, people around the corner is, I guess, so big because he recognized the voice, but he had never seen my face.


So when I walked into view, he just stood there, stared at me for a long time, like, shocked me. Finally, he moved in, came, gave me a hug. OK, freaked out.


Yeah, that is crazy. Then I'm sure he was like, just couldn't know what to make of it.


So much has changed since Curtis was locked up twenty four years ago and Curtis is still figuring it out like this. One day when Curtis use the bathroom somewhere, he couldn't figure out how to flush the toilet, just walk away. Someone told him he's thinking, really, that's kind of rude. But then he did walk away. To his great surprise, the toilet flushed on its own. Or take coffee, for example.


I remember the first time he introduced me to call Kavala, who drinks cold coffee. He said, OK, you just got to try. So I get cold coffee on cream, lacrimal the sugar and fell in love with it. The next time we went back, he said, you've got to try to frappuccino next. I say, hold on, hold on.


That's a lot of sugar. He said, you going to love it?


And I tried it and loved it now. And it has really been excited about coming home, being able to get up when you get ready to eat, when you get ready later on, when you get ready. Wow, those things are truly bananas.


I wanted to talk with Curtis about what his life was like before the murders, before he was arrested, back when he was just a kid growing up in Wynona, you realize?


Oh, I hung out with family all the time or friends. Yeah. What were your parents like growing up? Oh, they were awesome. They had to go somewhere every summer. We did everything together. Cookouts, family reunion. Yeah, it was fun. Yeah.


What did you did you play any sports or basketball. Basketball. A lot of football. Let me play like she didn't want to get hurt ok. Yeah but she didn't, she didn't like that she was worried about you getting injured. Exactly.


Oh and so when you were growing up like did you have any sense of what you wanted to do with the rest of your life time?


I remember all my friends and I used to get together and talk about what we wanted to do after high school and at the time I wanted to be a father. Why did you want to be a fireman? I don't know. I thought it was so cool, you know, to see them rushing through town on a fire truck, going to put out a fire. Yeah. You know, as I got older, that changed. And then I just didn't know what I wanted to do.


Then one. And Curtis told me started doing very early on, was singing, yes, well, I started singing about at the age of 10, I still sing in my room a lot. And my dad heard me one night and I didn't know he was outside the door. But he came in and he said, When did you go start singing Gospel? You see your beautiful voice? And he said, I'm not going to force you the way my dad, my uncle did me.


He said, because if I make you sing, you're not going to give me all he said. But if I let you come to me when you're ready, then you sing this about a week later. And I started singing with him going to rehearsals. And I'm also I'm a big supporter and she just encouraged me on, you know, sing baby.


She would, you know, for years while reporting on this case, the only time I'd actually heard Curtis Flower's voice was on an old recording of him as a young man singing with the gospel group.


Oh, yeah, I had. Yeah, so you're kind of you're growing up, you're hanging out, playing basketball, hanging out with friends, family, and then you're in your 20s, you're staying in town working a bunch of jobs, and then your life suddenly changes suddenly.


Yeah. Curtis's life changed on July 16, 1996, the day of the murders of four people, Attardi Furniture. On that day, shortly after the murders, police showed up at Curtis's door. Do you remember that? Yes. And what did they say? They said they wanted to talk to me downtown. So they say why? They didn't say until I got down at. Curtis was taken to the police station and sat down with the DA's investigator, John Johnson, and John Johnson started asking Curtis questions.


So you guys are suspecting me? No, no. We just want to make sure you clear all this. We know you used to work there, you know, for a short period of time. Nobody's accusing you of anything. We just want to talk to you briefly. Maybe you could help us in a way I can. So I didn't think nothing of it at the time I talked with him. You didn't think to get a lawyer? No.


I mean, just made it sound sweet, you know.


So all this is happening. John Johnson started describing it like, don't worry, this is just to clear things up, see if you can help me. That's nothing to be concerned about.


To be concerned about. Endino I remember leaving there. I didn't even take them back home at what I get home. And there's a guy up the street. He comes down, he said, man or John Johnson and a couple of the guys coming out of the neighborhood asking about you. Oh, really? Yeah. They said, You a suspect. And we to know that I know you have seen you moving about here and there, and I said you just told me I would not associate.


And I was oh, to find out I was a suspect in a murder. It was just heartbreaking. Because I felt everybody knew me, you know? I said, I mean. Curtis wasn't arrested for the murders right away. In fact, months passed. Well, John Johnson and others continue to investigate the case. I wanted to ask Curtis about that time and about one person in particular, a man named Doyel Simpson Doyle's dead now. I never got the chance to talk to him, but he's the guy who claimed that his gun was stolen from his car on the morning of the murders.


At a certain point, Doyle had gone from being a suspect himself to being a witness for the prosecution, testifying against Curtis looked as though Doyle got out of being a suspect by becoming a state's witness. Curtis told me something I'd never heard before, he said that same deal that seemed to have been offered to Doyle, according to Curtis, it had been offered to him, too.


And I remember talking with Robert Tompkins, used to be the chair. He said, oh, he's going to tell you something. Doug is looking for someone to put this on. He said, There's no doubt in my mind. I do not believe you did. He said, but they got door or they want him because, you know, he owned the gun or he really don't have no concrete alibi about where he was, what he said. But do they get those killed?


And I think Dole is willing to say he believe you did it and they will use him in a way they can. He said, no, if you will speak and testify against Simpson, you'll be all right. I said, I cannot say that man did this. I don't know what's really. And he said, well, he's willing to say, you did it.


I told him, two wrongs don't make a right. That's how I raised better than him over the years.


Like, did you ever look back and think maybe I should have said something about Doyle even if it wasn't true?


Well, no, because I just oh, I just don't think that way. I never thought of just. Oh, I'm just going to say, Daudier, just so they'll leave me alone, you know, no. One of the things you always say, if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. I can't say he did this. I just couldn't do it. And to be sit in a courtroom, look at someone in their face and say, I believe he did it.


And I don't know. I couldn't do.


Months passed, Curtis moved to Texas with his girlfriend at the time he got a job at a grocery store. Life is pretty normal. And then one day in January of 1997, about six months after the murders, law enforcement showed up at his house.


I remember police showing up at the door of matter of fact, I was hooking up some popcorn shrimp to take to work with me for lunch. And I answered the door and he said, sorry to bother you that I'm looking for Curtis Sliwa. I said, that's me. And next thing I know, I was against the wall. And he told me, he said, oh, we have no beef with you or anything like that. We we we just have a warrant for your arrest back in Mississippi.


And I said for and he told me and I said, oh, that can't be me. He said, Well, your name is Curtis, right? That's me. And he took me on down to the station. As a matter of fact, they were dressing me up when John and Matthew and I left and Miller and Miller, when the three of them than John Johnson, the DA's investigator, was there.


And Curtis said so were two state investigators, Wayne Miller and Jack Matthews.


And you get in the car with them and they drive back with you to Anana. Yeah. And that's like a long drive, like seven hours. What was that drive like?


Oh, they required them up for there trying to strike a conversation or one, you know, ask you certain things and stuff like that. And he said, you don't have anything to say. I said, no, I don't.


But they tried. They were trying to talk to you, John. John said in the back seat with me. Oh, really? The whole time.


The whole time. Wow. Trying to get you to basically say, I did this and all I did was just stare out the window, hold out.


And I was so happy to see Mississippi because my neck with her had been turned one way the whole time. Wow. And all he did was to ask questions, but I never said no.


Curtis was taken to jail to await trial. What are you thinking is going to happen at the trial? They will prove my innocence. They prove your innocence. At the end of this, they're going to say not guilty. I was thinking, like, surely they will see through this, you know? Yeah. As you can see, that didn't work out. The trial began and Curtis told me he watched as one witness after another got up and testified to things he said he knew weren't true like that.


They'd spotted him near the furniture store that morning, walking the route the day Doug Evans said he took one day at trial and walked a guy. Curtis had actually shared a cell with a fellow inmate in the jail, a guy named Frederick Vehle.


You can even look at me twice a year. He admitted to the crimes. And I was like, oh, I remember looking around at my mom and she said, Just up. It was new, Rick, and like, what about like someone like Clemmy Fleming or any of the people who testified on the rally? These are people you grew up with, you know, them sort of or see them around, you know, and I used to see coming in.


As a matter of fact, the family used to live right up on the street from them, right around the corner house and and to see her get out. I kind of feel sorry for her because there were other people saying that she was pressured to do what she did. Clemmy Fleming recanted.


Years later, in an interview with us, she said her testimony that she saw Curtis running away from the furniture store on the morning of the murders wasn't true. Frederick Vehle and the other so-called jailhouse informants also later admitted they lied.


But I just don't understand why people would just go and just lie like that, you know, to hear people take their witness stand and just just just tell a lie, you know, and there's nothing you could do about it. You can't say anything if you do. People don't think weird of you now, you know, oh, maybe look at you lashing out at me. But it was it was hard to sit there and just hear things and not be able to say anything.


Right. Because, you know, people are lying and you got a jury, you already own thing.


And so you just keep your composure and listen.


And the person calling all those lying witnesses to the stand was the prosecutor, district attorney Doug Evans, last sit in that courtroom.


And it is like always looked over my way and he always had a smile on his face. Yes.


And and Don Evans would like look at you look over smiling.


And he sat down when he sat down, he would always have this thing where he lingered and he looked my way and he just smiled.


What do you make of that?


Well, I wanted to say something about how you're talking about it feels like he's sort of saying, I own the place.


Yes, it is my place.


At some point, I believe that he gets everything he wanted.


You know, in that first trial, the all white jury deliberated for one hour and six minutes before coming back with its verdict.


Guilty. I just took all out to be able to do. And I also heard that I was I was known, you know, like you didn't see it coming. I didn't see it coming at all. So the jury comes back, they say guilty, then they go, then we have sentencing and then they come back and they say death penalty. Yes. And I wonder if you can talk to me about that moment. Oh, I just I can't even describe the feeling it was like having a ass like that.


You know, you can't breathe. I was I think I felt relieved to get out of the courtroom, back to a hotel so I could just sit for a minute. I just couldn't believe it. And I remember one of the deputies said, you might want to speak with you in a little back then. Yes. And we talked for a minute and and she told me, keep your head up. Don't give up. I know it's a lie.


You know the law. She's everybody I know. You know as well, but don't give up. I don't think it really sunk in until I got the part I was thinking about, you know, what that would have been like for you. You're in your mid 20s. You've had this life really close with your family and all of a sudden you're in prison. In prison. And so when you got there, what do you remember that like?


Do you remember that first day or that first night?


Yes, I remember going through a strip search and then and I thought that was one of the weirdest things, you know, maybe here somewhere. Well, we need you to take out your clothing.


You know, last time I heard it was a pretty woman, you know, but you being.


You know, we want to check you see all the tattoos you got got to be recorded. And I later found out it just case inmate runs off. You know, they could put out there what type of tattoos and everything has. Yeah. And put it was real heroes. Bar slammed behind you and placed on a small seal and they were like it was getting smaller and smaller, you know. Really. Yes. It was real. It really well, you know, here other inmates crying out at night, you know.


And so so-and-so. So-and-so. So also I need to also be got so-and-so, so-and-so and cell so-and-so then hung himself. You know, it was just it was just heartbreaking because you can hear all of this and you see all of this. You can't see them, but you can hear them, you know. Yeah. What did you saw look like. Oh like she said there was a concrete bomb. There was a toilet. So the sink and there was a listing for a small TV and that was it.


You know that all. Then as time went on, we just got worse and worse, you know, in the sewer system, started back in the plumbing, you know, water wouldn't go straight down, so your toilet would be backing up into your house.


Has no air conditioning, of course. No ECDIS. Yeah, no BlackBerry. Oh, we got pretty hot in the summer when you just sit and consider Suwit. Yes. And you were just praying for. I could have made things a lot cooler and, you know, short lived because the mosquitoes got even better after that. And it was.


Yeah, your mother told me that sometimes there were even rats in the prison.


Yes. Oh, yes. You could hear them all. I just run it up down the hallway. I think I had so many rats on a sticky trap I had took and put a crack on it and set it at the door. And I'm telling I got up one morning. I know I had at least six rats and one at one trap trying to get to that crack are parts of the earth and just terrible over there.


So how did it feel to be there and to be like, I'm innocent?


I don't feel like I used to say that a lot, too. And it became well, I thought I sound like a broken record, you know, I said, well, you know, inmates try to say this all the time, you know. Oh, that they're innocent. Yes. And not, you know, and and obviously. Yes.


And I think as time went on, I learned that I couldn't help myself if I was down and out all the time.


And, you know, and I talk to my mom a lot, you know, and I started reading a lot and got in a word and, you know, and it gave me some sort of peace, you know, and but I just don't think I could have got through it without family support, you know, always checking in on me and everything, you know, having a family that that loved me and supported me.


So many people lose all of that when they're in prison for so long, you know, their friends stopped being interested in them or they just kept busy. Parents stop showing up.


And, you know, that doesn't sound like was the case for, you know, it wasn't like I said, my mom, dad, they were always there. Every two weeks we go, we don't miss a beat.


Even when the prison was on institutional lockdown, they were out there trying to get in, you know.


So what happened? Oh, they all locked in the whole thing and they never missed a visit.


So you came all this way for nothing. You come back two weeks. It was one time we had a little ice storm and my mom, she slipped and slid on in the stairs and I thought, you can stay at home. She said, no, I have to see. Yeah. How did that feel? I feel great if I go to hell because I was around a lot of death row inmates who didn't have that, you know, and I watch guys self-destruct, you know, and some, you know, get psych meds and can't even tell you what day it is.


Yeah. They just strung out on it. And then all of a sudden, yeah, I never took a psych drug or anything.


You know, I wanted to talk to a little bit about like what it was like when your parents came to visit you in parchment. Oh, it was a bunch of laughter. Laughter Yeah. We talk to you sometime talking about different things, but it was mostly laughter. You know, I never wanted to see my mom. They're unhappy or sad. So a lot of times when I go in, I'm already joking and I get her the laughing and the whole visit just go from there.


You know, we talk about old times and things like that. And that was very uplifting, you know?


Yeah. Your father talked to us a lot about how you would sing together when he went to visit.


You said you love you, loves you any piece. You know, she also said. We'll be back after the break. We're. When Curtis first went to prison, he actually didn't think he'd be there very long. He assumed that if he won his appeal, he'd be going home.


But, you know, that first year went by like, wow, I remember that one time I talked to my mom, but I've said to you and she said it was going to be all right. And I remember sitting there and sitting there and just waiting and hoping and praying. Curtis eventually did win his first appeal and a second and his third, but every time the D.A., Doug Evans just tried the case again and Curtis told me what this look like for him was that when his conviction was overturned, he'd leave death row.


He'd say goodbye to the inmates and the guards, basically hoping that he'd never see them again. And then you get taken to a local jail where he'd wait for his next trial, where you could see his family and friends a lot more. We had a little more freedom, a little more space, a little more hope. But then Curtis would be convicted again and sentenced to death again, and he'd be sent right back to death row, they would ask me, I'd try me, send me right back.


You may try again.


That was hard for the prison to jail, jail to prison, on death row, off death row, back and forth.


It went on like this for so long and is so sad and heartbreaking when you sit there and there's nothing you can do about it. You know, the days go by, the news, you know, and just won't get relief, you know, get close to home so many times. And it was like, do again.


We'll just find out another way to put me back when you would come back, then to parchment. Did parchment seem even worse every time you came?


You know, and it was worse every time I came back. I think being able to talk to certain officers who were just real nice, you know, they see me come back really when you come back.


And what were they saying?


Oh, man, I can't believe they sent you back there. You have got to get your trial out of there or something like that. That day is something else. Another trial met another time.


Curtis would watch as Doug Evans and his assistant prosecutors struck one black juror after another, always ending up with a jury that was either all white or mostly white. Curtis told me it was obvious to him what Doug Evans was trying to do.


Well, I chalked it up to the being good at their work, you know, because he was using those drugs to get rid of.


And when you look over at the jury box and you see it is all white people, what do you think? We should not even at that minute, minuto ass, but I remember when having a conversation with Attorney Rachel's car and we picked a Jew once and he looked at me, he Lenawee said, What do you think? I said, Oh, boy, you can get started. And I started looking at me now, as I said, and then I already express how they feel about it before, you know.


And then there was doing this thing where, you know, he said, do you think you could set your feelings aside and base your decision on what you from the witness stand? You know, and it's just the way they look at them say, yes, I can think, you know, when true. But the more it went on, the worse I feel. Curtis told me that he started to feel a little more hope in trials four and five in those trials, the juries were a little more diverse and in both of them, the jury hung.


They couldn't agree on a verdict.


And I said, well, maybe, you know, maybe we're getting somewhere now. You know, they started to see him lies, you know.


But then trial six came around and once again, Curtis was convicted, this time by a jury of 11 white people and one black person. And Curtis was sent back to death row.


When you were back in prison and you kept coming back, did you ever feel like, you know what, like I'm just done.


I'm done trying to fight this thing, cross my mind a couple of times. But I always thought about the family and friends, you know, and how hard my mom fought for me, you know, and stuff like that. These things kept me motivated.


So if you hadn't had a family like that, you might have just I mean, yeah, you could do it without a time or two. So I think if if it wasn't for them, I mean, you know, because you see it all the time, you know, and some people just give up and you see guys like I said, we didn't drug psych doctors and we encourage them to take something. And I just understand, Begal, they just sleep all the time.


You have some lash out and they go in and give them a shot. You get to hear from that inmate about to die, just sleeping.


I don't know what it was. They would give them syringes, but it was, too.


So all around you people are not in no surprise not dealing with this well at all. I mean, everybody's panicking.


People are getting sedated basically just to get them through it, because you also would see people leave to be executed. Exactly. And can you talk a little bit about that?


Well, I was there doing three or four of them. I think the hardest part was hearing that they had set a date for inmate, you know, and then you have to be on the same zone with them, you know, and this is a person you usually hear talk a lot, but they don't, you know, and guards and nurses come around every day leading up to that. They would give an inmate whatever he needed to come home.


I heard my next door neighbor say that he just gave someone value as I didn't think they had those anymore. And to hear them so calm and quiet, you know, you had to try to take their own life because they didn't want to be executed in front of people. So they have to be taken, put a suicide cell and strap down a straitjacket. And until that time. But it was it just takes your breath away, you know, to be that close to someone getting ready to be executed.


And then there was some who went in. You know, the governor gave them all, you know, whatever you call it.


Oh, you commute the sentence where they come back in the minute and to see him come back and be so happy and get a few days later, they take them in a way, you know. And then I thought that was the worst part. You know, you bring them back, you know, and they have all this hope that things are going to change and they still get taken up and executed. And I thought that was the worst feeling I remember hearing in inmate not too far from me.


His last request. You know, he wanted a cheeseburger, he wanted shrimp, he wanted fried catfish, a milkshake. And they give them all this. And they took him over and they brought him back the next day. And when they come back to get him, he said, well, just look at the price that you get to have what you want to eat again. Did it make you think about what it would be like if this happened to you?


Yes, yes. Ministers, all kinds of emotions, you know. Here I am in here on a crime I did not commit. Will that mean next, you know. But maybe we could talk a little bit, jump to the moment when we first found out about your case, and so the way that I found out about it was a woman emailed me, just a random woman who said, there's this guy in Mississippi named Curtis Flowers. He's been tried six times for the same crime, said the evidence, evidence against him is iffy, but he didn't have a chance.


Yeah, and that was pretty much it. Mm hmm. And at first I was like, this isn't possible. Six trials like, no, there's no way that someone has been tried six times. And then we found out, no, it's true.


And then I think a pretty short time after that, I wrote you a letter and I don't know, do you remember getting the letter?


I still have that letter. And I remember talking with one of the attorneys at the time. Is it OK to write back? Well, I don't I don't think you should at this time because, you know, you don't you don't want them to get well, if you write Mal and she could get subpoenaed, you know, or just try to have the letter taken and flip it into something that is not, you know. So I was encouraged not to do it at the time, but I always got two letters and I kept you of always talk to my mom about you.


I tell you hello, unless and until I thank her for everything she's doing. Mm hmm.


Had people gotten your hopes up in some ways before, like had a reporter written to you before, you know? No. No. OK. And so did you have a sense of what we were doing?


What we were doing it because I wrote you a couple of times, but I never wrote to you and said, these are the people I've talked to or this is one of them. I did not.


I just know at some point you guys are going around and talking to people whom we sent you transcripts when the podcast came out.


Did you get those?


Do you still have them? And what was it like reading those?


Oh, it was. It's a great feeling and, you know, to see all this, you know, unfolding and everything that people you guys have talked to and people who were just willing to talk and tell everything, you know, and and I say because we could not get that done. Well, I don't know what it is.


You guys were just so charming or whatever, but we couldn't get it done for, you know, because you're reading pretty, pretty big things that are happening.


Like I wonder about, you know, when you were reading and the witnesses who said they saw you walking around town that morning are now telling us that some of them that that story is not true. You're sitting in your cell reading that.


And what what do you say to myself? Oh, it's about time. You know what to say. But I was happy they did it, you know. Oh.


So you would see someone finally admit that testimony was false? Yes. I gave it six times in six different trials. And you'd think, like, come on, you and I remember reading about something.


Some guy I can't remember his name said at all. I was only saying what they wanted me to say. So they leave me alone. It was depressing sometimes to read things like that, but I was happy that they did come through, you know, and I think. The more things I heard about you guys and the episodes that they come out, it is really bright Monday, you know. And I'm telling you, to hear all the stuff that was going on, you know, and people recant the stories and stuff like that, you know, and and I oh, what took so long.


But it really made me feel good to have you guys investigating this.


And so when you're reading these transcripts, do you remember are there like a couple moments that stood out to you in particular things we found out?


Or I think the biggest thing that really stood out to me right away is when I saw that Odille and in turn against Doug and told a true story.


And you're telling me it killed some people? You know, he never told you that was a lie and that only had a melanoma even get in touch with him.


This is going through my head. You know, that was Samarrah, but. Yeah, yeah.


Because because he stuck by that and you knew it wasn't true. But there's a big difference between knowing it's not true and getting him to say it.


And and I think or I was always frustrated about Odille because I felt that it would take somebody like Odille and just to get whatever he wanted from them. And they hear that he recanted his story. I just couldn't believe it. I just couldn't believe it.


So when you're sitting in there in your cell and you're reading this, do you call someone or do you want to talk to.


Angela was one of Curtis's sisters. Now she in and we just know things are going good. I hear the oncoming storm. She said at the time. She said, I don't know where many of them come from, but I'm glad they're here.


Yes. And but, yeah, things things really start to pick up for me, you know, and I could breathe a lot easier. Yeah. And so and I just kept talking with family and just this way, you know, and my mom would always say, you don't come this way, you cannot give up now. And she said, don't roll over and take whatever they throw at you, you know, don't settle.


And I just kept I kept saying, yeah, at a certain point, you probably started getting a lot of mail, right? Oh, yes.


Especially after you guys got started and start putting the episodes out there in the mail. Just started ringing. You like how much mail? Oh, I'm talking ten, fourteen out of the day, sometimes more. And sometimes I would go through them. There was something I said, well, I'm a whole lotta the mom read these, but it was just so much mail. You know, you could get over women sometimes.


Yeah. Your mom actually talked to me about this and said that she gave you some advice because you were a little stressed almost about the amount of mail. And she said she told you, like Curtis, you don't have to write.


Everyone matters. And I told her, I said, I'm doing nothing, so I may as well. You know, what were people saying in the letters?


Oh, they had heard about the case to the door. And they can't believe I was still locked up in there praying for me. Or if you just need someone to talk to, I'm always here. Please write me. Or if you want to call and put my name on your list. And I got so mad at all that I can put them on. I can only have ten numbers at a time. And so I just write them down in my address book and I just held onto.


So you went from a lot of isolation. You're still in prison at this point, but all of a sudden people all around the country and also all around the world in some cases are aware of your case or writing to you. What did that feel like?


It felt great. Well, they're getting postcards and letters from all the way up in the Netherlands and everything.


And then people started sending photos, hundreds of photos.


I remember one time they did a shakedown and after me say you have too many photos in his room. He not you know, you're only allowed thirty five at a time. And he said when you every time you get pictures, you have to pick out the thirty five you want and get rid of the risk or put them in storage. A lieutenant walked in behind him. He said what he keep us. So we are all gonna just let him have.


So these are all thank you for your courtesy, saved all those photos, this person wrote the book, The Revolution will be mailed and showed them to me hashtag black letters matter.


There are pictures of families, pictures of smiling babies, pictures of people's vacations.


One p.m. send me a picture from Hawaii. You just wrote in to say aloha. Courtesy means someone sent you a photo from Harry Potter World. Yes.


Just look at all these pictures, you know, and I found myself just drifting off into them.


You know, it's just about very, very people even sent pictures of their dinners, cheeseburger, corn on the cob with some type of cheese or something or you're in prison.


Is that the sort of photo that you want and you're looking at it at the time? You know, if you're in a place like that for so long, if you look in different food, you know, good food. So this is the stuff that you had to kind of take your mind off things.


Oh. But it was nice to see, you know. Things are starting to look up for Curtis. But then his mother, the person Curtis was closest to, started not feeling so well. You know, she was in pain and everything, and she came to see me. She came to see you and she kept getting up, going to the bathroom. And I said, what's wrong with you? And she told me she was in a lot of pain, you know, and and I said, why did you come away?


She said, I had to see you again.


And I got. How and. The following week, she. Hmm, mm hmm. And I just completely came up with a feeling like that, you know, she was feeling really sick. Yeah. And I remember she told me she go to sleep. She said, when I leave here, I'm going to the hospital. In the following week, she passed away.


Did you get to say goodbye? No, I did.


Now, I talked to the night before and I told us I will call you in the morning, see how are you doing? But when I call and answer the phone and she me, she passed away. So your sister told you? Yeah. And it was a sad moment, and so I pretended that this was my turn to go to the shower because I didn't want to hear me. You know, you told your sister, I've got to go.




Obviously, my daughter would take me to the shower and I didn't want to hear me crying another. Why should they be going through enough, as you know, and to know that I was there? Upset, crying, being just worrying about me now, so, yeah, I got off the phone with her and get it out and she and I eventually started talking again and she said, Will you be an all day? I just couldn't talk to him right now.


I could tell you about. So sad, you know, and it was well, maybe it was well. Know. Oh, let me get to.


You know, because I get emotional, you know, it's normal and, you know, and I imagine a lot of what you were thinking about being out was about being with your mom.


Yes. And I'm, you know, sitting around the kitchen talking, teaching me all the good things, you know, the good recipes.


And, yeah, she told us she was collecting you would send her recipes and she would leave things. I want to try. And if I see it, I would cut it out and just mail it to her and tell her to put it up for me. Yeah. All the good cooking. Yes. And just talking. And, you know, because I could talk to my mom about anything else. Yeah. There are so many times when we would be over at your parents house and she would get a call from you and to go in the other room.


So it seemed like you were having conversations all the time.


Oh, yes. I talk with my mom just about every day and she would get upset if I didn't go.


Yeah, yeah. I told her these phone bills, you know, so I try not to call every day. She said, you let me worry about that. And so we talked all the time. Yeah. And sometimes twice a day in her past. And it took a lot out of me. Do. Now, a mom, Chief Maroc. Lola Flowers told me again and again that she was certain that one day her son Curtis would be free, not going to work this thing.


I do believe might not be what we want to do. Are you coming at. But she didn't live to see it happen. She'd been gone for months when Curtis's story made headlines around the country because the U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to take the case. A few months later, they reversed his conviction. Curtis packed up his cell, got ready to leave death row and wanted to come back to stuff like this. And if you do, I'm putting you in a hole.


And I said, well, I hope I don't come back this time in L.A. walking out and everything ultimately carry my bags, my ass and all of that a lot.


I'm happy to see me go on his way out here to stop by the hospital waiting to pick up his insulin medication. They handed it to him in a plastic bag.


One of the nurses wrote on it with a black magic marker put on there. This is our last time seeing you here. Now said, I know you're going home, but Curtis still wasn't free.


He was still under indictment for the murders, still locked up in a local jail, waiting for his next hearing, the hearing that would decide whether he'd be granted bail.


I think the closer the bail hearing got, the more nervous I got. I said I've been I've been this close many times, you know, and they have to go right back, you know, hopefully they get it right this time. And I remember getting to the county jail and there were officers, lieutenants, chief prosecutor, and we talked and he said made them take some. I know a lot of them and I know I got a chance to know.


Loper has done a 360 since probably the last time you saw him in a courtroom. He said, not really. Not believing. I'll try you again.


So the guards told you that the judge had changed his mind. He said, I really believe a lot was going to change tomorrow.


So when you went to the bail hearing, which is the first time we are in the same room together, you were you knew that already?


No, I didn't. I didn't know. No, I was for sure.


Well, yeah, you've been through it so many times that how could you possibly be for sure until it's till you see it in writing or hear it from the judge. Exactly. Yeah.


But you kind of were thinking maybe that hope that, you know, and it wasn't until we will come back out to recess and we just started talking.


And as he went on and on and on to the state of Mississippi, pain. And when he started to say some bad things about the court, the state of Mississippi will reap the whirlwind.


I thought this might work this way. He may just give it to me.


Consequently, as the finding of this court that Mr. Flowers is entitled to bail, they granted bail and oh, I didn't even know how to act.


And then I get back to that county jail and not just prance back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And eventually as I fly, I get all your stuff come out. And I was so happy. I was a good moment right there.


And what was that like when you walked out of jail?


Oh, it was it was it was real fun and exciting until I turned it being and I saw all the cameras and stuff. Didn't they warn me about this?


And I was gonna say, you're going to do good, as I don't know now, then my sisters, you know, they were on each arm and it really helped.


How are you feeling right now? I feel good right now.


I'm happy about of time to now spend time with family and talking to Miss Madeline, so.


Yeah. Yeah. A real fun moment. And I think the fun is part of that is when we pulled out of the parking lot at the jail, I was changing clothes in the back of the truck. And my baby sister, she was like this. I can't believe you take the globe right now. I see.


I got to put on some. Yes, but it was a real fun to get to the house. And, you know, they had to face fried and we just we just had fun half the night and I'll see. I'll be ready in the morning. Ready to leave. Yeah.


I went on, you know, because I saw a lot of people in one on who, you know, supported me and everything. But, you know, everybody don't feel that way. I just can't help but assume that. Yeah. And so I just feel, you know, it's I shouldn't have to worry about anything, you know. So I left and decided to just move away. I told my dad I would give him time to visit them, but one on is not somewhere.


I would just want to go and hang out. And how come we're just just to be safe and, you know, I don't I don't want to have my family worried, stuff like that. So I just sort to move away.


Curtis left Wenonah and then he waited until after nearly twenty three years in prison.


Curtis Flowers tonight is a free man. All charges have been dropped.


Mississippi Attorney General, let me know it was finally over. And from that point on, for the first time in decades, Curtis's life was truly his own. He could do what he wanted, go where he wanted. He went back to Wynona for a few weeks, visited his father. We sat on a porch every day, just talk all day long and just watch the traffic go down. And we sing a few songs together and we just laugh and talk and hang out in the yard, hanging out with family.


And Curtis left again, went back to the safe place he's staying now, the place where he's figuring out what his new life will look like. So when you look back at all of this twenty three years, six trials, why do you think all this happened to this day? I still wonder about the. I often think about all that I've been through, you know, and NASA said, you know. Still, a lot of people that I'm disappointed in, but.


I find that if I sit around and stress over this and that it only just makes it worse. You know, so I just try to let it go. The prosecutor, Doug Evans, he's still the district attorney. Yes. Is there anything that you would want to say to Doug Evans? No, no, let's be honest about that. No, I wouldn't. How come there's some things you just don't need to be said, you know, hosannas to do it?


I feel that. Before he knew he was wrong. But as far as a conversation. When you picture your life like five, 10 years from now, what do you see? Oh. Out job seekers up and doing a lot better, you know, moving on in life and. Maybe this nice house, you know, in an. At. AI's family, you know. I'll probably be doing a lot of this part of this interview. But, yeah, just just wanted to let you know.


Getting on up there. So I need to find out where Kurds want to be in and just try to live like, you know. So I'm looking forward to the. Well, I wish you the best and I like you. All right, thank you so much for taking so much time to talk with us about a lot of really hard things. Really appreciate it. You also will be looking forward to. All right, take it easy, Curtis.


OK, thank you so much to all of you. Yeah, same here. They work up here I am, twenty four years later, 24 years I. I don't even know if I could do it. It's been a minute. I've had some good day. I've had some he used to climb. I've had some weary days and some lonely nights. But when I look around. And I think things over all of my good days, I wish my bad days and I won't complain.


I've had some good day. I've had some he used to climb. I've had some weary days and some sleepless nights, but when I look around and I think things over all of my good days, I wish my bad days and I won't complain about the weather.


It's been a minute.


Yes, but Hatra. We have a lot more on our website in the dark podcast, dawg. That's also where you can find all kinds of information about the case, about the power of prosecutors, about how jury selection works. So if you haven't checked it out yet, please do. And one more thing, doing this kind of investigative reporting isn't cheap, it takes a lot of time and a lot of resources, we simply can't do it without support from you.


So please take a minute or so to donate. Today you can go to In the Dark podcast, dogbone or text the word dark to four seven four seven four seven. Or you can click the link in the show notes. In the Dark is reported and produced by me, Madeleine Baron, managing producer, Samarrah Freema producer, Natalie Yablonski, associate producer Raymond Car and reporter Parker Yasko, our data reporter, is Will Craft. The series was edited by Catherine Winter.


The editor in chief of APM Reports is Chris Worthington. This episode was mixed by Corey Sheppard original music for the series by Gary Maistre and Johnny Vince Evans, photography for the series by Backed-up. Videography for This Episode by Robbie Floras. Transcription for this episode by Alondra Sierra and a special thank you to Lauren Humpert and to all of you who've listened and supported our work over so many years. Thank you.