A Letter from Bobby Joe Burns
Rogers Hall, B-Wing
Arkansas State Hospital
Little Rock, Ark.
July 5, 1958 [sic]*
Judge Paul Wolfe
c/o Prosecuting Attorney Lyman Mikel
As you may know, I was in a vacuous mental state at the time I killed my mother in 1958 and that the killing came from God or as might be said right out of the wild blue yonder.
The last time I was in the state hospital before the killing I was released to my mother against medical advice, and was taken home and cared for by her in a room at my home. It was necessary for her to care for me as my mental state was such that I could not care for myself.
I do not recall being in jail after the murder, and did not know the date or day I entered the State Hospital until much later when I happened to observe it on a clothes card here at the hospital. At that time (I mean the time of the killing) I was aware of very little and remember very little.
Later, I went mad and suffered so hard from madness that I wrote the court as you may recall and requested that I be sent to the electric chair. I wanted to use this means to commit suicide.
No charges were filed against me for the killing until I requested them in July of 1964.
Now, I have recovered from my madness and feel much better, and Dr. R.E. Walters is trying hard to rehabilitate me. I work on the Exit Ward as housekeeper and Dr. Walters has told me that execution is a lie and no one wants to try me. He is determined to help me get out.
What I would like to ask you gentlemen is that you drop the charges I requested be filed against me so that I can leave the State Hospital. Mr. Baker and Mr. Laster (The former is Director of Special Education, and the latter is L.P.T. here on the Exit Ward)
want to send me back to school and earn a degree and first the charges will have to be dropped.
Could you kindly drop them? I doubt if you want to deny that I was hopelessly insane at the time I killed my mother, and it is necessary to drop them at this point. I am not a bad man. We are respectable people. My great-grandfather was a Baptist preacher in Logan County, and my grandfather was County Clerk of Haskell County, Okla. When he moved to Fort Smith in 1918, he paid a number of courtesy calls to your court. When the Cherokee Strip was opened, we were already out there. We have many friends in Ft. Smith and I once received a letter from Gov. Francis Cherry (God bless him) telling me that no one had a right to mistreat me.
So I urge you to drop the charges against me. Please heed Dr. Walters and myself. God bless you. I am,
Very sincerely yours,
Bobby Joe Burns
*Although dated 1958 at the top of the letter, this is likely a typo based on the reference to a 1964 request and the postmark on the envelope with the letter. The postmark date on the envelope is July 8, 1968.