Marie Clifton was a sweet little girl till Nov 3, 1998, when Josh Phillips cut her throat and hid her dead body under his waterbed for a week.
Who was Maddie Clifton?
Maddie Clifton was born on June 17, 1990, in Jacksonville, Florida. She was an innocent little girl living with her parents. In those days, it was common for children to play outside without any adult supervision. The environment was considered to be safe for kids as there was no incident of terrorism till that date.
The Tragic Incident of Maddie Clifton’s Brutal Death
On Nov 3, 1988, Maddie Clifton was told by her parents to play outside, so she did. But they later realized that it was the biggest mistake of their life.
As stated by John Phillips, Maddie came to his house while he was all alone and asked him to come outside and play baseball with her to which he agreed reluctantly. While they both were playing, Phillips accidentally hit the baseball on Clifton’s eye. She got an injury and started bleeding. The little girl got hurt and having no parents around, she started crying.
In the meanwhile, Phillips got upset when his parents were about to come back home. Firstly, he dragged the girl into his house and tried to threaten her by hitting her with a baseball bat. Then, he hid her under his bed and came out to welcome his parents who had just returned home.
After talking to them for a while, he went back to his room and noticed that Clifton was still alive and crying. He then picked a knife, horrendously cut her throat, and stabbed her in the chest several times, resulting in the death of the 8 years old little girl.
7 Days Search of Maddie Clifton
Her parents got worried when they did not see her till 5 pm that day. They started searching for her in the nearby area but got no clue. Soon Clifton’s mother realized that something was fishy so she called the corps. They all searched for the little girl everywhere and Phillips, behaving all normal, helped them in the search.
Phillips told during a trial that
“I was putting myself in a fantasy world where nothing had happened. That was my defense mechanism to escape from everything when I was a kid. I never made the decision … to ignore it. I just did.”Source
Shocking Recovery Of Maddie Clifton’s Dead Body
Steve and Sheila Clifton did their best to find their little girl but ended up being hopeless and depressed. They appeared in many TV interviews discussing their daughter’s appearance and asking for help.
On 10 Nov 1998, Mellisa Phillips entered her son’s room for cleaning and suspected something bizarre. She noticed some unusual smell but later thought that it would be coming out from the bird’s shelter they had in their house.
After that, she saw a wet area on the floor and upon removing the mattress from Phillip’s bed she found Maddie Clifton’s rotting dead body.
Mellisa became terrified and started screaming. Somehow she gathered her senses and called the police officer immediately. Phillips was attending his school without having any notion that he was going to spend the rest of his life behind the bars.
Police officials reached his school and called for ‘Phillips’. The teachers reported that it was unbelievable for the whole school to understand what had just happened. Phillips was arrested and put in jail.
Shocking Facts About Josh Phillips
Joshua Phillips was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania on March 17, 1984. His family moved to Clifton in the early 1990s. His father Steve Philips, who was an engineer by profession, was badly strict towards Josh and his mother. He used to brutally beat Steve and Josh out of mental stress and anxiety.
Josh reported that he was not allowed to play with friends, especially girls when his father was not at home. That is why he was hesitating from playing with Maddie.
He said that he got furious when the little girl started crying and he realized that his father was about to come back home. All he did was an outcome of his father’s voracious behavior towards him and his mother.
Josh Phillips Trials
After his arrest, Josh admitted his crime. He said that he was simply playing baseball when Maddie Clifton came and asked him to play with her. He knew his father had forbidden him from playing with other kids but Maddie insisted on playing with him.
He got scared when Maddie started crying in pain so he had to beat Maddie to stop her. Then he hid her under his bed and sliced her throat to save himself from his violent father.
His initial trials were held in Duval County, Florida but later Phillips was moved to Polk country to avoid the involvement of the media over this sensitive case. Richard D. Nichols acted as Phillips’ attorney during the trials.
He did not call even a single witness for Phillips’ defense rather he argued at the end of the proceeding by saying that:
“It was an act that began as an accident and then deteriorated through the panic that bordered on madness”.
The first trial was held on July 6, 1999, and the judges were ready with a final decision within two days. It took a relatively shorter period of time because Phillips’ lawyer had nothing to say in court.
Josh Phillips was convicted of first-degree murder by the jury members. Later, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was not eligible for a life sentence because he was just 14.
Maddie’s family was mourning in pain as they were finding it hard to forget how their innocent little girl was killed brutally without any fault. The family claimed that there should not be any punishment for Phillips other than a life sentence.
Maddie’s elder sister said in an interview:
“She doesn’t get a chance to walk on this earth again, so why should he?”
Josh Phillips Life in Prison
Today Josh Phillips is 37 years old and still serving imprisonment in Taylor Annex for brutally killing 8 years old Maddie Clifton.
Phillips joined the General Education Development Program and later took the college to complete his education. He spends his time playing guitar and talking to other inmates.
During his hearing in August 2017, Josh dared to apologize to Maddie’s family. He said that he has been living in pain and darkness for years.
“I don’t pretend to know or understand your pain or to grasp the void I created in your lives, I can say this but I do understand pain. I have become quite intimate with suffering. Growing up in prison, I have seen many dark things, and I have been to some dark places. Many times throughout this journey, I came close to ending my life, just to escape it all.”Source
He even wrote many apology letters to the victim’s family but they never replied to him and said that what happened to them is unimaginable.
It is expected that Josh Phillips will appear again in the Duval County courtroom in 2023 and his life sentence will be reviewed.