A serial killer nearing execution in Texas for fatally stabbing a girl in 1999 has been linked to 22 killings while claiming dozens more in various states.
But Tommy Lynn Sells’ taking credit for a killing in Lawrence County, Illinois may have helped spared that victim's mother from prison.
Prosecutors accused Julie Rea-Harper in the October 1997 stabbing death of her only child, 10-year-old Joel Kirkpatrick.
During her 2006 trial in Clinton County on a venue change, Rea-Harper's attorneys pointed the finger at Sells after he confessed to killing Joel two days before slaying a 13-year-old girl in Springfield, Missouri.
Sells was charged in that Missouri killing but was never tried.
After Rea-Harper was acquitted, Lawrence County prosecutors painted Sells as an