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In the summer of 2003, Jodi Jones was a typical 14-year-old. She lived in Scotland with her mother, Judy, her older brother Joseph, and her mother’s partner, Allen Ovens. Jodi’s father, James Jones had passed away in 1998. Jodi also had an older sister, Janine, who lived with their grandma.
Jodi and her family lived in Easthouses, a small community about seven miles from Edinburgh. Easthouses is about a mile and a half east of the village of Newbattle, where 14-year-old Luke Mitchell lived. A footpath called Roan’s Dyke, links the two villages. It runs between a field and an old wall that’s about 6 foot high. Behind the wall is a strip of woodland that local teens would hang out in and drank alcohol and smoke weed.
Those who believe Mitchell is innocent say the police had tunnel vision and Mitchell was convicted in a trial by media.
Jodi was killed on the evening of June 30. Speaking to The Scotsman in 2005, detective chief superintendent Dobbie said, quote, “It wasn’t until July 3 that our suspicions about Mitchell increased. We had a degree of suspicion, but not enough to detain him.” These suspicions came from what Dobbie described as “critical differences” in what Mitchell had told him about finding Jodi’s body and what Jodi’s family had said. He claimed that these critical differences were based on whether or not Mitchell had walked past the v-shaped break in the wall before he climbed over and found Jodi’s body.
The detective chief superintendent said he was focused on Mitchell from day 3 of the investigation, and with him being Jodi’s boyfriend, he was always going to be a suspect. However, the detective’s claim that this was because of Mitchell and Jodi’s family’s statements about finding Jodi’s body would be called into question if the following is true.
Apart from police statements and what has been reported in the media about the trial, relevantly little is known about the details of this case. The trail transcripts aren’t available to the public. The evidence that raises this dispute was made public by an author named Dr Sandra Lean. Dr Lean champions for Mitchell’s innocence and in the past, worked with his defense team. She says Mitchell’s defense team shared the information they had about his case with her.
Alice, Janine, and Steven’s statements about finding Jodi changed from what they told police at the time to what they testified during Mitchell’s trial. According to Lean, each of their first statements were consistent with Mitchell’s version of events. They first said that Mia, his German shepherd dog, had altered Mitchell by sniffing and jumping up at the wall so Mitchell doubled back and climbed over the V break. After about a month, their statements began to leave out Mia. By the time they got to court, their statements had become quite different and all claimed Mitchell went directly to the v in the wall and led them right to Jodi’s body, not that the dog had alerted him.
A dog trainer from London tested Mia to see if she was able to track and alert her handler as Mitchell claimed. Mia passed but this wasn’t used at trial.
Questions are also raised about Andrina Bryson’s sighting of Mitchell and Jodi. The clothes that Ms Bryson first described Jodi wearing were nothing like what she wore. Ms Bryson allegedly first described the girl she had seen as wearing blue bootcut jeans. Jodi’s style of clothing was quite different. On the day she was killed she was wearing wide-legged black trousers and a distinctive hoody. It was a Deftones hoody with a large Deftones logo on the back. The logo was in the style of the Dickies logo and bright red, white and blue in colour. Ms Bryson didn’t mention any type of logo or graphic on the hoody.
This witness testimony is crucial to the prosecution’s case because Ms Bryson is the only person who can place Mitchell with Jodi in the moments before she was killed.
In an interview with James English for his podcast, Anything Goes with James English, Dr Lean claimed that Ms Bryson’s brother-in-law was at Alice Walker’s house telling Jodi’s family about the sighting the morning after the murder. The brother-in-law is said to have encouraged Ms Bryson to go to the police and he is said to have been present when Ms Bryson gave her statements to the police.
Her witness testimony was touted as being independent but if this was proved to be true, it would call her independence from the case into question.
There is also controversy surrounding the photo lineup that the police showed Ms Bryson. Mitchell’s photo in the lineup was the polaroid photo that police took on August 14, 2003. Mitchell’s photo is said to be the only image with a solid white background.
Mitchell’s defense wanted to call an expert witness to speak about memory recollection during the trial but this was denied because the memory expert hadn’t spoken to Ms Bryson.
The cyclist’s statement is also said to have changed. His first statement allegedy describes him hearing a noise ‘like leaves moving.’ This then changed to a struggling sound, and then to the, “strangling sort of sound, a human thing,” that he spoke about at trial.
Changing times Jodi leaving
Ms Bryson’s sighting occurred in a short window of time. Many believe Jodi was still at home when Ms Bryson saw the young man and woman at the end of Roan’s Dyke path at around 5 pm. Earlier newspaper articles reported Jodi leaving her house at 5:30 pm. In the following days, Jodi’s leaving time changes to around 5 pm and then finally 4:50 pm. If Jodi didn’t leave her home until 5:30 pm, Ms Bryson can’t have witnessed her on the path.
In his statements to the police, Mitchell claimed that he received a text from Jodi that said she’d be “down later.” He says he took this to mean after 5:50 pm as usual as he cooked the family dinner most weekdays and would usually meet Jodi, and his other friends, around or after 6 pm.
On July 14, the Daily Record reported that Jodi “texted Mitchell before leaving home to say she was on her way – but she never arrived.”
Neither of these messages were found on Mitchell’s phone. Only two deleted messages were reported to have been recovered from his phone. The first recovered text was from his alleged second girlfriend on June 27 and the second was sent at 12.29 am on July 1 2003, from his mother.
Also questioned is Jodi’s grounding, or curfew being lifted. Statements from Jodi’s sister, Janine and grandmother, Alice, say it had been lifted a week before her death. It’s also been claimed that Jodi was out the previous two evenings.
Although Satanic Panic had its height in the 80s and 90s, there are aspects of it in this case. From quite early in the investigation, the police seemed very focused on Mitchell’s taste in music and “goth culture.”
During his second interview on July 4, Mitchell was asked about his interest in horror films, and police statements allegedly show that officers were asked to search Mitchell’s house for anything related to Marilyn Manson.
On July 5, an article appeared in the paper with a quote from the police saying, “We will be looking at what Jodi and her social circle were interested in and an obvious area will be their ties to the Goth movement. We will be examining if the manner in which she was killed has any links to the violent world that many Goths find fascinating and will be speaking to all her friends who had similar interests.”
Someone who says they worked for The Herald newspaper at the time of Jodi’s murder, says he received a very strange phone call from a senior police officer. The officer told him that Luke Mitchell was definitely guilty and much of the conversation centered on Mitchell’s love of Goth music and his alternative lifestyle.
The day after Mitchell was found guilty, even the Guardian put out an article with the headline, ‘Goth fan who craved notoriety and said he was in league with the devil.’ The tabloids ran articles with headlines such as ‘Devil’s spawn’, ‘Mitchell’s satan shrine’, and ‘The demons that fuelled Mitchell’s bloodlust.’
Many of the things Mitchell had written on his school books, such as “Satan, master lead us into hell,” were lyrics from songs and phrases from computer games.
Mitchell’s supporters also point out that he wasn’t even a fan of Marilyn Manson. The only things the police found of Mitchell’s to do with Marilyn Manson were a ripped page of a calendar in a waste bin and a DVD that had come free with a music magazine, and the magazine had been purchased two days after Jodi was killed. Mitchell not being a fan of Marilyn Manson makes the idea that he was influenced by Manson’s paintings of Elizabeth Short’s murder even less plausible.
Possibility of other suspects
Mitchell’s supporters also question why other people weren’t subject to the same level of suspicion and scrutiny as Mitchell.
In 2005, detective chief superintendent Dobbie told The Scotsman newspaper that they interviewed everyone possible including every male they had viewed with general suspicion, telling the paper, quote, “That group included any males known to Jodi – both relatives and friends.”
A witness at trial said she and her boyfriend had noticed a man behaving strangely in the Newbattle area. She reported he was wearing a coat that was zipped up and was in his twenties. Reportedly the man wasn’t found and interviewed until 3 months later.
On the evening of Jodi’s murder, there was a concert on at the nearby school. In a Facebook post, a man who was the same age as Jodi when she was killed said that on the evening, he was walking to the school concert with a female friend when they became aware of a man behind them acting strange. In his Facebook post he described, “We freaked out and ran and he literally chased us to the school gate then ran towards the woods,” end quote. The author of the post says he and his friend reported this and the police took a statement from them and mentioned a lineup but after that, they heard nothing.
John Ferris and Gorden Dickie’s words seemed to be taken at face value, even after not being truthful about the times they were in the area. People also doubt David Dickie’s story. A man walking eight dogs would be fairly noticeable yet no witnesses have ever come forward to say they saw them. It would also have still been light at 8 pm which makes it strange that he, nor any of his eight dogs, noticed Jodi’s body.
People also wonder why Janine’s fiance, Steven Kelly wasn’t investigated more thoroughly. When a police officer approached him after they discovered Jodi’s body, Kelly reportedly asked, “I suppose you’ve been to my place already?” Years later, he claimed this was his attempt at humour. Kelly’s semen was on the t-shirt Jodi was wearing when she was murdered and he was also present when her body was found. However, the police didn’t take the clothing he was wearing until a week later when it had already been washed, and it’s almost as if the police went out of their way to come up with an innocent explanation for his semen being on Jodi’s clothing when she was murdered.
It has been reported that Alice held Jodi’s body, yet the police didn’t take her clothing, or Janine’s, until a week later when it had also been washed.
In 2006, the police got a match to the DNA found on the condom. The man said that he was there but that he hadn’t seen Jodi’s body by the wall. He claimed he had gone to the wooded area to masturbate because he shared his bedroom with his brother and didn’t have anywhere private at home.
There is also speculation surrounding a man named Mark Kane. Kane is now deceased but when Jodi was killed he lived nearby. His name is allegedly in police files but the police didn’t speak with him about Jodi’s murder.
Years after the murder, Kane’s friend disclosed that the morning after the murder, Kane arrived at his house with scratches on his face. To explain them, the friend said, Kane gave a story of him falling in a bush. He told his friend he was in the woodland where Jodi had been found, and became flustered when further questioned and left.
There are also reported to have been two confessions to Jodi’s murder. A man named Allan Roberts allegedly confessed to killing Jodi on the day Mitchell’s trial began. Roberts was convicted in November 2004 for attacking a woman just 5 miles from Roan’s Dyke path. He had violent fantasies about sex attacks on women he didn’t know and carried what was described as a ‘rape kit.’
The other man allegedly confessed to the police. This man hasn’t been publically named but he is believed to have been in the area where Jodi was killed. People do make false confessions but given what’s known about these two, it does seem odd that they weren’t taken more seriously.
Jury can’t have been impartial
Mitchell’s trial was helpd in Edinburgh. Although Jodi wasn’t from Edinburgh and wasn’t killed there, Edinburgh is only 9 miles away from where she died. People from Jodi’s neighbourhood worked in Edinburgh. The murder was a big story and people in Edinburgh had been following news of the investigation since the discovery of Jodi’s body. The fact that the trial had to be restarted and a jury member removed proves the difficulty for a local jury to be impartial and have no connection to the case. Another jury member who was involved in deciding Mitchell’s fate allegedly gave the Joneses a thumbs up during the trial.
The press reported on Mitchell’s relationship with his mother as if it were off somehow. Following Jodi’s murder, him seeing her body and his subsequent questioning, Mitchell was prescribed medication to cope with the shock. His mother, Corrine, was worried about him going up & down the stairs while medicated so he was sleeping downstairs on a sofa in the living room. His mother also slept in the living on the other sofa. However, when this was reported, the media impled that Mitchell and his mother were sleeping together in the same bed. There was no mention of that Mitchell was being medicated for shock in these articles or throughout his trial.
The prosecution presented Mitchell storing his urine out of context. Mitchell only started doing this after all his belongings were taken and he was subjected to an hours-long interrogation. Keeping hold of his urine may very well have been a reaction to the shock of what he had experienced.
Really nothing pointing to Mitchell
The lack of evidence linking Mitchell to Jodi’s murder is also a concern to many who wonder how plausible it is for a 14-year-old boy to murder Jodi in such a manner and leave no evidence. Especially given the short timeframe Mitchell is said to have done this in.
Despite news reports that indicated otherwise, none of the DNA recovered from the crime scene was confirmed as being from Mitchell. Mitchell’s DNA did match some parts of the DNA from the scene but no more than most other white males.
The crown didn’t have anything other than witness testimony that Mitchell had ever owned a parka jacket before Jodi was murdered, and there was no forensic evidence that clothing had been burned in the log burner. Photographs had been published in newspapers of Mitchell wearing the new parka jacket which may have influenced the witnesses’ recollections.
I also found talk of other people burning clothing on the night Jodi was killed and reports of remnants of burnt clothes and cable found on wasteland in the area.
In 2012, Mitchell requested a lie detector test. His mother had already taken and passed one in February 2012. Throughout the trial, the prosecution tried to show Mitchell’s mother as a liar. Wanting to quash this, she took and passed a lie detector test in February 2012. On April 25, 2012, Mitchell also took and passed a lie detector test. While not much is thought about lie detector tests and their results aren’t in Scotland, Mitchell’s supporters believe the fact that they both requested one has some relevance.
After Mitchell was found guilty, his lawyer switched his focus to appeals.
Mitchell’s first appeal was rejected in 2008. His lawyer had argued that the prosecution smeared the teenager’s character during the original trial and that Mitchell didn’t get a fair trial because his trial was too close to where the crime took place. He said the dramatic and emotional media coverage would have impacted people’s minds. The judge determined that the publicity surrounding Jodi’s murder hadn’t denied him a fair trial and rejected his appeal.
Mitchell’s second appeal was rejected in 2011. His legal team argued that there had been a miscarriage of justice because of how the police had treated him when he was interviewed. It found that Mitchell’s police interrogation had been “overbearing and hostile” and said that “Such conduct, particularly when the suspect is a 15-year-old youth, can only be deplored.” However, it was decided that there hadn’t been a miscarriage of justice because there wasn’t a forced confession.
In 2014, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission released their report in which they had found that Mitchell’s human rights had been infringed.
At the time of recording, Luke Mitchell is, in the eyes of the law, guilty of murdering Jodi Jones and he has been incarcerated for more than 17 years for the crime.
So, what do I think? Please remember that the following is my personal opinion, and that I have no background in law or law enforcement.
Saying that, I think it was a terrible investigation with double standards throughout.
I understand that Mitchell was bound to be a suspect, and I think he should have been. However, I definitely think other people should have been looked at as closely as Mitchell was. One example is Ferris and Dickie. Given that they were seen in the area at the time, Ferris cut his hair, neither of them came forward, and then when they did they said they were on Roan’s Dyke path earlier than they actually were, the police seemed very trusting of their explanations and appeared to have treated them lightly. It’s been reported that there was an initial thought that more than one person had been involved in Jodi’s death, which makes the police’s dealings with Ferris and Dickie even more puzzling.
After the trial, detective superintendent Dobbie told the Scotsman that the police tried to eliminate Mitchell from their inquiries but, “they just couldn’t”, yet they seemed to quite easily rule out other people who they found evidence of at the scene. I can’t believe that Kelly wasn’t looked at as a suspect and I don’t believe the innocent explanation for his semen being on Jodi’s t-shirt. I also doubt the story from the man who left the condom at the scene. He said he was there at about 8-9 pm when it would have still been light, so I find it difficult to believe that he didn’t see Jodi’s body. Of course there’s also the possibility that Jodi’s body wasn’t there at that time.
I’d also like to know what happened to the stocky man. The police were keen to find him and then he wasn’t spoken about again. If found and ruled out, I’d like to know how the police were able to rule him out.
At trial, Findlay described the behaviour of the detectives as “a disgrace” and the Mitchells’ family liaison officer conceded that the investigation was a ‘shambles.’ The forensic scientist who had arrived at the scene at around 8 am, agreed with Mitchell’s lawyer that Jodi’s body shouldn’t have been moved before he arrived and that the scene should have been protected from the rain.
But detective Dobbie defends his team’s actions. He said the police had done a great job and, “I am open to suggestions as to where we could have made improvements in the investigation, but I can’t think of anything obvious.”
I would certainly question why Alice, Janine and Kelly’s statements changed, if they did. The idea that Mitchell knew where Jodi’s body was was central to the case for his guilt so whether or not Mia the dog altered Mitchell to that section of the wall is very important. Hearing that Mia was involved might have made the jury less likely to believe that Mitchell knew where Jodi’s body was.
Mitchell’s statements remained consistent, which I believe is important. People who are being untruthful often change their statements over multiple interviews. While some people may be very good liars and be able to maintain a single narrative, Mitchell was only 14 at the time.
To me, it seems the police were more obsessed with Marlyn Manson than Luke Mitchell was. I’m not sure if they were suffering from some sort of Satanic Panic or just very keen on their theory. I think the idea that Mitchell was trying to recreate the murder from Marilyn Manson’s paintings is too far of a leap, and that the emphasis the police put on a free Marilyn Manson DVD is an indication of how desperately they wanted this theory to be believed.
I think the media definitely played a role. I think people would have inferred that Mitchell was the police’s main suspect from the media coverage. I also think that when these appeared alongside articles about DNA evidence and witnesses, it reinforced the readers’ belief that Mitchell is guilty. I find it extremely unlikely that the jury hadn’t also been swayed by the media.
Overall, I find it difficult to believe that someone can commit a murder that the police themselves said involved the loss of so much blood and not have any trace of blood on them, let alone a 14-year-old, and especially within such a tight timeframe. Thousands of pieces of evidence were collected and none of it showed any confirmed connection to Mitchell and the police also searched his father’s house. Mitchell was taken directly from Roan’s Dyke path to the police station where he was examined and the police found no evidence of Jodi’s blood being on him. There was also no evidence of him having cleaned up at his house.
I was surprised to learn about some of the people who were quickly ruled out given their proximity to Jodi around the time of her death and some of the evidence.
I don’t believe Mitchell should have been found guilty given what I’ve learned about this case, but I’m not surprised that he was due to what I’ve read about his trial. I personally don’t think Mitchell should have been found guilty given what I know about his case, but I’m not surprised that he was, due to what I’ve read about his trial. But whether he should have been found guilty at trial, and whether he’s guilty of commiting the murder are two different questions. I personally don’t believe that Luke Mitchell is guilty of murdering Jodi Jones. What do you think?
Thank you for listening to Turned Up Dead. All sources for this episode can be found at turnedupdead.com. Earlier articles from the Daily Record aren’t available online and are thanks to people who have found and photographed them from old newspapers. Other sources I used for this episode include court documents and the Facebook group, ‘Jodi Jones and Luke Mitchell – Who got Justice? The official group!’ which includes many locals, and people from across Scotland and abroad. The admins say the group, “is dedicated to making public the flaws in the police investigation and campaigning for an independent enquiry to look into these flaws.” One of the group’s admins is Dr Sandra Lean whose book, Innocents Betrayed: A True Story of Justice Abandoned, takes an in-depth look at the investigation and trial. Dr Lean is also the organiser of a change.org petition for a full, independent review of Mitchell’s case. You can find the petition by searching change.org for ‘Luke Mitchell Case’ and I’ll put a link in the show notes for anyone who wants to sign.
The case was a suggestion from a listener, so thanks for that. If you have any suggestions, you can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember, if you listen carefully, even the words of liars will tell you the truth.
https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/search/?q=jodi+jones (all articles)
Daily Record articles from July 1st 2003 through to around April 2004 accessed via Facebook group
Book: Innocents Betrayed: A True Story of Justice Abandoned by Sandra Lean
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/jjlmofficial