Sexton family horrors recalled

Published Mar. 26, 1994|Updated Oct. 6, 2005

Years later, their babysitters would recall the terrible details.

The Sexton children were shy, hungry children who seemed starved for attention. As young as 3, they were sometimes left tied to their beds in the dark, in their own waste, as punishment. They lived in rooms without electricity, without furniture.

And when it started to rain, the children would run outside and raise their faces to the sky.

"Jesus is coming," they would say, hoping he could take them away.

Court records released Friday paint the picture of a tortured family ruled by the iron fist of Eddie Lee Sexton Sr., a 51-year-old Ohio man charged with sexual battery and murder.

In a twisted tale of incest and violence, Sexton, his son and daughter all are now awaiting trial in Tampa on charges related to the deaths of two family members, Sexton's son-in-law and infant grandson. Both were killed and buried at Florida state parks, the child as he clutched his rattle.

Nine-month-old Skipper Good had been smothered by his own mother after Sexton commanded the ill and weeping child be kept quiet, investigators said.

The baby's father, Joel Good, was later strangled at Sexton's order because Good wanted to return to Ohio, according to investigative reports.

Court records show Sexton and his wife, Estella May, had 12 children, who now range in age from 9 to 26. Sexton, retired and on disability, was accused of raping one of his daughters in Ohio and is alleged to have fathered children by two of them.

In 1992, he barricaded himself in his house with a .357-caliber Magnum for six hours to keep authorities from taking his children.

Later that year, with seven of the children, three grandchildren and one son-in-law, the Sextons went on the lam in their 1972 motor home.

In a videotape sent to authorities last year, Sexton said he would not surrender his children again. "God help us all," he said, if someone tried to take them.

Sexton's daughter, Estella Sexton Good, known as Pixie, would later tell police her father had been sexually abusing her since she was 17. Now 24, Pixie said he had fathered her two daughters, 5 and 3.

Pixie later married Joel Good and told him about her father. But when Good confronted him, Sexton beat him, she said.

Pixie and Joel Good and their son, Skipper, were with her parents as they camped in the Hillsborough River State Park last fall. The baby had been sick for weeks, but her father wouldn't let her take him to a doctor, she said. They just gave the infant Nyquil, an adult cold medicine, she said.

That night last October, Skipper was particularly fussy, which angered her father, she said. When Sexton told her to keep Skipper quiet, she put her hand over the baby's mouth until he stopped breathing, she said. Her brother, Willie Sexton, would later say he watched from his upper bunk in the motor home as his sister killed her baby.

To his shallow grave, the baby wore Army coveralls and high-top sneakers, a pacifier in his mouth and a rattle in his hand. He was wrapped in a blanket, put inside a gym bag and garbage bags that were piled with brick pieces and buried near their campsite.

Skipper's mother, now charged with manslaughter in his death, said she placed a flower on his grave. Detectives would later find a single silk red rose in a plastic tube buried under 2 inches of dirt.

Before Thanksgiving, the family moved to the Little Manatee River State Park, although Pixie's husband, Joel Good, wanted to go back to Ohio. That, according to records, was enough to get him killed.

From jail this week, Pixie's brother Willie told the Canton, Ohio, Repository newspaper that Sexton coached him two days before Good's death on how to strangle a man and demonstrated on Willie himself. Willie said his father ordered him to lure Good into the woods near the campground. Willie described throwing a rope around Good's throat and pulling it tight.

"He used me to kill Joel," Willie said of his father. "And that wasn't right."

Later, Willie said, Pixie and his father complimented him on a job well done.

"I didn't understand that killing someone was serious enough to put you in jail," said Willie, who had been receiving monthly checks from a federal program for people whose mental and other disabilities prevent them from working. A relative and neighbor both described Willie as mentally slow, or "just off."

Both Willie and Eddie Sexton are charged with the first-degree murder of Good. The elder Sexton also faces a dozen charges in Ohio, including rape, sexual battery, gross sexual imposition and child endangerment.

Willie told police his father had planned to kill at least 12 people in the Canton, Ohio, area over the allegations of sexual abuse of his children.

In an interview with detectives last month, Eddie Sexton said the baby died in its sleep. Later, he said, at the Little Manatee River State Park, he happened upon Willie and Joel's dead body.

"He wanted to point out that the FBI and criminal justice system in particular are responsible for all the events that have occurred in this investigation," detectives said in their report. Sexton was described in one police record as a self-ordained minister "believed to be dabbling in the occult."

Sexton served prison time in the 1960s for armed robbery, malicious assault and unarmed robbery, according to records. His wife, who is not charged in the Florida killings, has been returned to Ohio to face charges of gross sexual imposition and child endangerment.

_ Information from the Canton Repository was used in this story.