A Letter from Bobby Joe Burns

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

Dear Sir:

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)


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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.