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Innocent man freed after two decades in jail because of true crime coverage of case

Innocent man freed after two decades in jail because of true crime coverage of case

Innocent man freed after two decades in jail because of true crime coverage of case

Fans of true crime documentaries and podcasts will be glad to know justice has been served thanks to some crucial coverage of what seemed to be a closed case.

A 71-year-old Michigan man named Jeff Titus was released from prison after a true crime series and a podcast helped uncover huge errors in his case.

Titus, who spent more than two decades in prison for the murder of two men in 1990, had his conviction overturned and could walk away a free man, leaving his time at Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater behind.

"I’m just so happy to finally have my freedom, and so thankful the justice system finally got it right," Titus said after he was released.

Titus' innocence was finally proven partly thanks to the relentless work of two projects helping shine a light on his case: Investigation Discovery’s Killer In Question, executive produced by Jacinda Davis and Kevin Fitzpatrick, and Susan Simpson's podcast Undisclosed.

"I've lost a lot of my life locked up for something I didn't do and now I just want to focus on making up for that lost time," Titus continued.

"I'd like to thank Susan and Jacinda and the Michigan Innocence Clinic and so many others who I can't wait to thank in person."

Titus was imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit.

Doug Estes and Jim Bennett were shot dead in the woods adjacent to Titus' farm in November 1990. The two men didn't know each other and were hunting separately, but were both murdered with a gunshot to the back.

At the time of their deaths, Titus was deer hunting with a friend over 27 miles away and thus was cleared by the original detectives on the case.

The cold case was reopened ten years later, with the team identifying Titus as the prime suspect and arresting him in 2001.

He was convicted the following year and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Investigating independently, Davis and Simpson found out that a witness had identified Thomas Dillon as a man who drove his car into a ditch after two shots were fired on the day of Estes and Bennett's deaths.

Titus was 27 miles away at the time of the killings.
Police handout

Dillon is a convicted serial killer known for shooting outdoorsmen, but his presence on the scene wasn't disclosed to the cold case team. Dillon died in 2011.

The two media also discovered that a witness had changed her account multiples times, ultimately falsely placing Titus at the scene of the crime.

"What they did busted everything wide open, and it got me out," Titus told WOOD TV. "The court system, they've changed. I mean, I'm just about speechless."

"This is a perfect example of the power and purpose of what we can do as a leader in the true crime genre," Jason Sarlanis, president of Turner Networks, ID and HLN, Linear & Streaming said after Titus's conviction was overturned.

"At our best, Investigation Discovery's content can right injustices in the world and allow for actual impact on our justice system. Today, we celebrate with Jeff Titus and his loved ones."

Featured Image Credit: WOOD TV8