Eddie Lee Sexton

If you are like me and "all about" true crime then you know of the crimes that put Charles Manson in prison.  You will also know, especially if you have ever seen an interview Manson has given in prison, that technically he did not murder anyone as he is fast and ready to point that out to everyone.  It was the prosecutions theory that Manson had brainwashed the young adults who seemingly idolized him and he had convinced them to commit murder on his behalf.  I think most people agree that Charles Manson was, and seems to continue to be, evil.  The only reason that he is still alive, although in prison, is simply because after he was sentenced to death the Supreme Court decided it was unconstitutional and his sentence was converted to life in prison.  I have no doubt Manson will die there, but I am also convinced that he is right at home there.  Eddie Lee Sexton was just as evil, if not more, as Manson but he is not as well known.  This man did not just have a "family" like Manson, the people he controlled actually were his family.

Eddie Lee Sexton was born in 1942 in Pike County Virginia. This is the same county in which almost a century before his birth the Hatfield's and McCoy's had their famous feud.  He was the youngest of ten children.  When he was around ten years old his father died and within a few years it was said that his mother had a disabling stroke (although it never stopped her from coddling her youngest child). While most of the other kids went to work to support the family Eddie Lee did not have to.  Eventually the family moved to Ohio, near Canton, for most of them and then later they spread out the country it seems.  Eddie Lee (as he was always known as) was apparently athletic in school and according to the siblings, at least those who seemed to be reliable, had pretty normal childhood.  Eddie Lee's older brother, Otis, joined the Navy and a few years later Eddie Lee joined the Army but by all accounts he did not even make it through basic before he "washed out" as they say.  It does not seem however that anyone could find anything specific on this though.  Then in 1965 he was convicted of armed robbery and served a few years in prison.  When he got out he met Estella Mae who would later claim to have not known about his past.

Eddie Lee and Estella Mae had twelve children together starting with Eddie Lee Jr. in 1969.  The following year Eddie Lee made a claim that he was injured on a job and claimed a workman's comp claim and filed for disability claiming he hurt his back.  This was one of the first of many scams that he attempted (and largely succeeded with) over the years.  Over the next twenty plus years he was seen in a wheelchair quite often when in public but it was later said that the wheelchair was just part of the scheme and his children would later claim that he was not disabled.  Eddie Lee learned that he could get enough, or more, out of the government through welfare, other benefits, insurance companies and scams and he would not need to work.  The Sexton family had more than one fire in their homes over the years.  

As the children grew there were minor issues with the law, generally involving bullying or neighbor issues and while many officials knew something just did not seem right about the family they could not prove anything on any front, including the welfare of the children.  Then in early 1992 DFS received a call from the local high school.  They had 18 year old MaChelle Sexton in their office and she was talking about her home life, something DFS workers had tried to get out of the Sexton children before.  This time however, they had one, and just one in the beginning, willing to talk.  MaChelle was convinced that she was pregnant and she was claiming that her father had been the one to impregnate her.  She began talking to investigators and telling stories that seemed almost unbelievable.  She talked about beating and abuse of all sorts, including that while it was later discovered that she herself was not pregnant but that two of her older sisters had given birth to her father's children.  Legally there was not a whole lot they could do for MaChelle herself considering she was already 18 and she did not always help matters. She was given places to live and had rules to follow but like many 18 year old kids she did not always comply.  DFS did some investigating which included interviewing the other children, six of which were minors still in the home, but they were not getting far.  Social workers would later coin the phrase "The Sexton Stare" referring to the look the children got on their face when they were questioned about their home life.  MaChelle had told them this look basically came from the threats their father had made to them about discussing things at home with people in authority.  After trying for a few months they decided that it would probably be best to remove the minor children from the home and see if that would make them talk.

In the meantime Eddie Lee and Estella seemed to be doing a little damage control of their own.  They obviously knew they were being investigated, that was not a secret. They also pretty much knew that MaChelle was likely telling everything she knew and MaChelle was convinced her father would follow through with threats he had made to kill anyone who talked. They had been successful in finding out where she was a few times as she was moved a few times but they were not able to make direct contact with her.  One of the first things they did was have one of their oldest daughters, Estella, aka Pixie, marry her boyfriend, Joel Good on February 12, 1992.  There had been a supposed plan for them to marry a few days later but they moved the date up when MaChelle started talking.  It was not very long later that Joel went and had his name put on the birth certificates of Pixie's two young daughters. It was much easier to do in those days than it is today.

Joel Good had had a rough life.  His father had been in prison and his mom died when he was rather young. He had a younger brother and they were taken care of by his mother's family that included his grandparents, two aunts and an uncle.  It was also believed that Joel had some learning disabilities of some sort but I was unable to determine just the extent of those issues.  It really does not matter if he did or did not, even the "smartest" of kids become "stupid" when someone of the opposite sex shows them attention and they think they are in love.  When Joel and Pixie first met and started dating the first time she had already given birth to her first child.  Joel's family was a bit protective of him and wanted to talk to the Sexton family a bit to get to know them.  One of his aunts had a conversation with Eddie Lee at his home and was feeling very uncomfortable.  Joel and Pixie dated for a while and then they broke up because supposedly she was moving with her family to another state.  Then one day a little over a year later she showed back up in Joel's life, only this time she had given birth to yet another daughter.  Joel's family was a bit suspicious by this point.  Pixie had always seemed to be vague or inconsistent as to who the father of her children were but even then Joel's family found it odd that both girls seemed to have an uncanny resemblance to the other Sexton's.  I am sure just their appearance alone would not have raised flags but it was everything combined that just did not make things feel right.  Then within a few months Joel announced they were going to get married and it was discovered he had added his name to the birth certificates.  They had been told the wedding would occur on February 14th but were not given a lot of details.  Then of course they found out later that it had happened two days prior, in the Sexton home, performed by Eddie Lee himself, who had supposedly been ordained many years prior.

So while all of this is going on in the Sexton home DFS is talking to anyone they can, including Eddie Lee's brother Otis, who at that point was not getting along with Eddie Lee and had said he long suspected abuse was going on in the home. In fact, he told authorities of at least two instances in which his own daughters had babysat for Eddie Lee and Estella and called him saying that some of the children had been tied up and to a bed or in a closet.  It is uncertain if Otis had called authorities at that time or not but even if he had it seems nothing would have come of it as no one in the Sexton home was talking and there would be no proof.  Eddie Lee and Estella were smart enough to not just intimidate the children but to keep them home if there were any suspicious marks, until they were gone.  Once they got the six minor children out of the house at least a few of them began to talk.  Their stories seemed to match MaChelle's pretty good when it came to beatings and such.  They had all agreed that when they got "whupped" as they said, they got the belt until they were sixteen and then it was the fist.  Of course when Eddie Lee and Estella were interviewed they denied all of this happening.  What authorities did not know was that although they were removed from their home, they were not completely free from their parents.  In fact, a few of the boys, who had been put in a home together were actually having almost regular contact with the parents. 

It seems that during this time the only "child" still living at home was Willie. Willie was about 22 but was considered "slow."  Much like Joel I was unable to fully determine the extent of his issues.  Joel and Pixie had moved out with the two young girls and daughter Sherri had been sent to Florida with her son to live with another of Eddie Lee's brothers.  Sherri would later say that this was a tactical move on her father's part because he did not trust Sherri and knew that if she was ever questioned she would tell everything she knew, including that her own son was a product of her father's molestation.  A few of the other kids, including Eddie Lee Jr. were living on their own and even married.  

For the next several months investigators dug deeper and deeper into the Sexton family.  While some of the kids were talking, not all of them were and then a few started to recant their stories and still at least two were not saying anything.  This was not going to be enough to get anything done legally.  Even Otis, Eddie Lee's brother began protesting with flyers and picketing signs to have his brother and his wife arrested for the abuse of their children.  Still nothing really seemed to be getting done.  That September Estella went to court (seemingly alone) and proclaimed that Eddie Lee had moved out of the house and she wanted her children returned home.  A judge complied, at least a bit. First she ordered Estella that there was to be no contact between the children and their father.  Secondly she returned two of the youngest children, Kimberly and Christopher mainly because they were the ones who had continued to be quiet and never claimed abuse. The judge also all but released Charles, who was nearing 18, but who also had run away from his foster home and seemingly no where to be found.  It is more likely that both Eddie Lee and Estella both knew exactly where their son was but they were not talking.  DFS workers fought against this ruling saying that there was really little proof that Eddie Lee was not residing in the home and the family could not be trusted.  

So what about Estella?  At this point had she been abusive to the children?  Was she a danger to them also?  This was all a bit questionable.  Most of the allegations of abuse were against Eddie Lee.  Many of the children claimed that Eddie Lee was just as abusive to Estella as he was to the children and that he threatened her often so that any abuse that she did dish out was as a direct order from him or done out of fear of what he would do to her.  Authorities really had little to keep the children from her and even less from the children who had not made allegations so some of them were returned.  And what about the children that Eddie Lee supposedly fathered with his two daughters?  Well, it seems that none of that was truly looked into.  Both of the daughters were considered adults and while the allegations of abuse came from some of the other children, neither Pixie or her sister Sherri went to authorities and they seemed to have enough on their hands with the other issues.  Besides both daughters had moved out of the home with their children so they were not in direct contact with Eddie Lee, at least not supposedly.  It does not seem that there was ever any tests done on the children to determine for certain that they were in fact Eddie Lee's children and never technically officially confirmed. Many of the children, including Pixie and Sherri would later confirm that Eddie Lee had molested them and had impregnated them but again I am unsure that tests were actually done to confirm this.  Reality of it is that although even if tests had been conducted on the "grandchildren" to determine if Eddie Lee was their father, it would have likely had little impact on the case the authorities had to deal with at the time.  As I said the daughters had moved from the home so that took the children away from the threat of Eddie Lee, but although we could presume that if he molested Pixie and Sherri that he molested at least his other daughters, presuming is not proof of such.  

So the kids go back in September and it was later determined that Eddie Lee was at the home almost on a nightly basis which was a direct violation of the order.  However, just like everything else going on in this case, that could not be officially proven.  That is until sometime in November it seems.  I was unable to determine exactly how things got started but basically the home had been "booby-trapped" with chicken wire and there were several guns and ammunition in the home.  At some point it seems the police were called and the media showed and there was a standoff which lasted approximately seven hours.  It was claimed that calls were made either to the media or authorities by Eddie Lee in which he threatened that anyone that came on the property planning to take his children would be shot.  Eventually it was agreed upon that the children would not be removed and that there would be in a change in social workers since apparently the Sexton's had an issue with the current one, and the standoff ended with Eddie Lee's arrest.  A few of the children, including Eddie Lee Jr had been interviewed on camera defending his father and saying what a good man he was and that the charges were bogus.  In fact it was Eddie Lee Jr. who paid the rather large bail to get his father out of jail.  He would later claim that there was a total of $75,000 that was refunded in the bail and that instead of it being returned to him, his father had taken that money to flee the county. And flee he did, only he did not flee alone.

Of course Estella who apparently took the old Tammy Wynette song to heart, stood by her man and left with him. They of course also took Kimberly, Christopher and Charles (who was now over 18 and could do as he pleased), but also Willie, their mentally challenged child.  Authorities did not know it, hell it does not even seem like they knew they were gone for a long time even, but they later learned that after leaving Ohio the family headed to Oklahoma, then to Indiana where Eddie Lee had family.  It was there that Joel and Pixie showed up with the two girls and a new little baby boy they named Skipper Lee.  At some point around here contact was made with 16 year old Matthew who was still in a foster home in Ohio and arrangements were made to all but kidnap him.  Then the family headed to Florida where they picked up daughter Sherri with her son.  During all of this Eddie Lee never forgot to make his monthly visits to Ohio to get his disability checks and any other benefits he, or the children were receiving but it appears he was all but in and out and gone. Finally in September 1993 authorities in Ohio decided to  order permanent custody of the now 5 minor children to DFS and the following month officially charged both Eddie Lee and Estella with a multitude of charges pertaining to the abuse and neglect of their children. Although most people were glad charges were finally brought against them, they also knew it had taken way too long to do so and on top of that no one knew for sure where the family even was at that point.  For the most part the family was staying at parks and campgrounds but if there was any idea that anyone was suspicious of them or authorities could be called they would move, and they moved often.  Finally in January of 1994 they were discovered and authorities watched until they caught Eddie Lee and Estella away from the campground and at a store before going in and arresting them on the federal warrants they now had in place.

Eddie Lee Jr went down to Florida after his parents were arrested and in the process brought Charles and Sherri (with her son) back to Ohio.  It was then that even more horrors had been revealed.  While on the run two murders had been committed and it seems that even more were planned.  The first murder involved the death of Skipper Lee Good, Pixie's then ten month old son.  The family was staying at one of the campgrounds in a mobile home and the baby had become ill and was crying a lot.  According to witnesses Eddie Lee was agitated by this and feared that the crying would bring attention to the family, who obviously were on the run from authorities but who were also violating a camp rule as to the number of people allowed.  It was said that Eddie Lee told Pixie to "shut him up" or he would do so for her.  When she asked how he expected her to do that he instructed her to put her hand over the baby's mouth and nose, to which she did as she was told.  The baby obviously quieted down and Pixie claims thought he just went to sleep.  The following morning the baby was found dead in his crib.  Eddie Lee tried convincing Pixie that her smothering had done nothing to him and that the baby simply died of crib death.  Yet, of course he did not want to call in a doctor or authorities so he instructed the family to bury the baby in the woods near the campsite.  I should point out that legally this child was considered the child of Joel and Pixie's as they were married at the time.  But then again, he had put his name on her daughter's birth certificates too believing the stories Pixie gave about their father's.  However, Sherri Sexton would later claim that this child was also Eddie Lee's child as Joel had confided in her that he had never actually had sex with Pixie because every time he tried she pushed him away.  There were also letters later found that indicated this to be true from Pixie to her father claiming she would only "make love" to him and indications of wanting to be married to him.

A few days before Skipper's death Joel had actually learned the truth about Eddie Lee being the father of Pixie's children and there had been a confrontation.  It seems that he was already wanting to stop 'running' and talked often of going back to Ohio to which Eddie Lee refused to allow.  Then after Skipper died Joel was not only understandably upset but also kept saying he wanted to take the baby back to Ohio for a proper burial.  At this point it seems that Eddie Lee was adamant that  something needed to be done to Joel. He had already trained his children in the area of guns and homemade garrets telling them they were to protect the family at all costs and to basically kill anyone who threatened to take any of the children or turn any of them in. After Skipper died he had threatened them all if they told anyone they would die and in Eddie Lee's mind Joel was a loose cannon.  He convinced Willie, his mentally disabled son, that Joel needed "put to sleep."  Eddie Lee had apparently done this to the children over the years and most believe that Willie had no idea that the actions he would take would kill Joel.  In fact, Charles would later say that he witnessed what happened and that Eddie Lee had guided Willie through the whole process and if Willie seemed to not want to continue Eddie Lee threatened that he too would die.  So Willie took the homemade garret and wrapped it around Joel's neck.  Later Eddie Lee would instruct Pixie to burn his clothes and to go buy a shovel and he too was buried in the woods at a park (although a different park than Skipper had been).   

After returning to Ohio and telling the story to family members, Charles and Sherri then told authorities.  Charles then went back to Florida with authorities and showed them the graves of Skipper and Joel Good.  Charles also informed them of other murders that were planned by Eddie Lee, some of which nearly took place.  One involved a person at one of the campgrounds they had stayed at.  The plan was to murder the man and all but take possession not just of his material items but Eddie Lee planned to take the man's identity.  Something else had happened to foil that plan and they have moved once again.  Another plan involved Eddie Lee's brother, Otis. On one of the many trips back to Ohio to get his benefits Eddie Lee had taken Willie and Charles with him.  They had sat in a car outside Otis's home and the plan was that when he came downstairs they would shoot him from outside.  They sat outside for more than an hour according to Charles while he (Charles) sat with a gun aimed at the home.  The only reason this plan did not pan out was that a neighbor had called Otis and told him that a strange car was sitting outside his house.  While Eddie Lee and his sons were sitting in the car waiting for Otis to come downstairs, Otis was in an upstairs window, with his own gun watching the car until it finally left. Charles also claimed there was a third plot planned after Skipper Lee had died. According to Charles, Eddie Lee wanted to go to Ohio and kill Eddie Lee Jr, his wife and two daughters and then steal their son and take him back with them. They all did in fact go to Eddie Lee Jr's home on one of their visits apparently to carry out this plan but no one was at the home when they got there.  It was also claimed that Willie and Charles were instructed to kill Sherri if she tried to leave the family.

With all of this information at hand authorities promptly charged Eddie Lee with the murders of his grandson and his son in law, as well as charged Pixie for the murder of her son and Willie in the murder of Joel Good.  

Eddie Lee went on trial in November of 1994 and was convicted of the murder of Joel Good.  It seems that was all he was charged with at the time.  The jury sentenced him to death.  He was also eventually charged with and convicted of incest and child abuse (and although I am uncertain those charges likely came out of Ohio).  But, on appeal his conviction was overturned back on a few factors, including that the court felt that too much that was "irrelevant" to the murder it self was let into the trial (such as much of the abuse allegations and criminal history) that preventing him from having a fair trial.  He was re-tried in 1998 where he was again convicted and sentenced to death.  He died in prison of "natural causes" in 2010.

So, what did he actually do and what happened to the other parties in this story.  First off it was pretty much determined that he did in fact abuse his children.  Eventually most, if not all of the children told consistent stories about particular incidents or events that had gone on in the home.  Both Pixie and Sherri eventually admitted that their children were a product of their father's molestation and that he was very controlling.  The children admitted they did as they were told out of fear for their lives and well being.  As far as the murder of Joel Good goes there is no question that Willie did the actions on the words of his father.  There had been allegations made by Sherri that Pixie was also involved more than she claimed as well as that as far as the death of Skipper Good, Pixie may have been more responsible in that death also.  In fact Sherri testified at Eddie Lee's first trial all but defending him in this area. My research indicated as if she was the only one to testify in that trial.  However, in the second trial Charles, Willie and Pixie all testified.  Willie and Pixie did so as part of plea agreements they had each made.  Willie had agreed to plead guilty and received a sentence of 25 years, although admittedly I could not find him in any prison system and there was talk of him spending that time in a mental institution.  Pixie also pleaded guilty in the death of her son.  She received a 12.5 year sentence with 6 years of probation.  She was released from prison apparently in 1997 after serving just over 3 years.  As far as Eddie Lee's defense they attempted many things, especially when it came to the sentencing hearing to attempt to make sure some things were known (at least from their perspective) that could possibly prevented the death sentence.  There was lots of talk about Eddie Lee's childhood.  One brother, David, the one Sherri went to live with in Florida defended Eddie Lee saying that their childhood had been full of poverty as well as that Eddie Lee had been continually abused by older brother Otis. Now remember, not only had Otis advocated to have his brother arrested early on for abuse charges, he had also worked with authorities in actually helping keeping an eye on things and there was a lot of bad blood there.  Initially it seems that brother David's allegations were believed, that is until other siblings were talked to and while some of them did not necessarily believe Eddie Lee was guilty of the things he had been accused of, they did dispute David's childhood claims.  It was later discovered that David too had issues with Otis because apparently he had also accused David of sexually molesting his (David's) daughters.  In one of Eddie Lee's appeals he argued that his attorney's had not adequately investigated many family issues with siblings and or children and in turn claimed that he had inadequate representation, just as many convicted defendants claim.  The courts investigated this issue and found that the attorney's had in fact investigated it as much as they possibly could and that while they may not have gotten a lot or maybe even sometime adequate or correct information that had less to do with the attorney's than it did with the family.  A private investigator testified that it seemed that family members attitudes towards others changed on a regular basis.  He claimed that it depended on the attitude of the family member as to what, if any, information was given and even then it may have been based more on emotion than truth.

I began my research on this story just as I do every other story that I post here.  I began by doing a Google search for Eddie Lee Sexton and murder. I am also in the process of reading the book House of Secrets based on this story. So much of the information out there surrounds all of the abuse allegations and Eddie Lee's behaviors.  There is very little easily found about the other family members and with so many states involved it can be difficult.  However, in this case I had learned somewhere that Estella had in fact been convicted (although at the time I was unsure of just what) and was sentenced to prison.  So, I started with looking at prison inmates in Ohio just to see what I could find out. It appears she was convicted on at least 12 counts, all dealing with abuse and neglect of her children, in 1996.  She received a life sentence (among others) and her last parole hearing was in December of 2010 in which she was denied. Her next hearing is in December of 2017.  In truth however, I could not seem to find much more than this on her.  I could not find complete details of the charges and just what was claimed in court.  Up to that point most of what I read indicated that yes, while she had not stopped Eddie Lee in his actions she may not have actually participated in the abuse, although taking off with him and the children after the standoff in November of 1992 obviously did not help matters.  Did she participate in the abuse?  The charges would seem to indicate she did.  

While doing my search in the Ohio Department of Corrections I came across a few other interesting things.  Apparently in 2012 Eddie Lee Jr went on a what authorities called a three day crime spree in which at least two banks were robbed as well as a many gas stations across the state  He was given a 12 year sentence and now makes prison his home.  There was also another person by the name of Eddie Lee Sexton with an Ohio record listed.  Now, the problem I found with Ohio was it does not seem to show if someone is a Jr or not.  I was able to determine Eddie Lee Jr. was the one I found on the site through other information.  However, this second Eddie Lee Sexton I found was born in 1991 and although he has been released, he spent time for assault in the past. I am left wondering if this is the son that Eddie Lee Sr. planned to kidnap after killing all the other family members ( I was later able to determine that Eddie Lee Jr. did in fact have a son, Eddie Lee III who was born sometime in this time period).  Again while going through the Ohio Department of Corrections site I came across an Otis Sexton who is serving time after a 1995 conviction for sexual conduct with a minor.  My first reaction was "what a hypocrite."  I was so convinced that Eddie Lee's brother, Otis was so on the up and up, but per my usual attitude I looked a bit deeper and realized this could not be the same Otis Sexton due to the birth date.  But, it is from a county from the area and again they do not add  suffixes to names so I am left wondering if this is Otis' son. It just puts a whole new spin on things.  Just how much access did Eddie Lee have to for instance his nieces and nephews, or was the perversion elsewhere and not started with Eddie Lee?  Regardless sadly in cases like this the cycle is not easily broken and generations are affected.  

Edited to add:  As I continue to read the book House of Secrets I did come across a portion in which addressed issues with Esther May.  According to a source after Eddie Lee had the standoff at the home in November of 1992 Esther and the children first moved in with Eddie Lee Jr. and then with an elderly woman.  According to the woman Eddie Lee Jr. had threatened his mother at gunpoint which prompted her to leave.  After Eddie Lee Jr. was able to secure his father's release from jail Eddie Sr. also moved in with the woman. She claimed that during the night one night she had heard noises and had exited her room in which she observed Esther May performing oral sex on her son Christopher while Eddie Lee was in a bedroom with daughter Kimberly.  If you remember these were the two children that were returned to Eddie Lee and Esther after a few months and had been the only children who had not claimed abuse.  The woman went on to claim that all of the daughters seemed overly protective and sexual with their father.  The incident in which she observed the night in her home prompted her to kick the family out. She claims there was a note left on her table that indicated a threat by Eddie Lee if she told of what she observed.  I can only suspect that it was her observations that helped levee charges against Esther for her own role in the abuse of her children.

Comments

  1. The Hatfields and McCoys were in Kentucky and West Virginia. But Eddie Lee's grandmother was born and bred in Pike County Kentucky.

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