Most people (except maybe the Kardashians) feel their family has a level of dysfunction. It could be that we have a grandmother who likes to escape from her nursing home wearing only a bikini and shower cap with high heels. It might be an uncle that wears only Civil War uniforms. It could simply be that our parents work 40 hours a week or more and we only see them on the weekends. Normal dysfunction. And then there is the extreme dysfunctionality; that of the Eddie Lee Sexton family.
**Warning: This article references acts of true crime, violence, incest, and murder. It may be too graphic for some people. Reader discretion is suggested.**
Eddie Lee Sexton was born in Logan, West Virginia, in 1942. His family consisted mostly of coal miners, his father was a part time Baptist preacher. Eddie was 21 when he married his pregnant girlfriend. She was 15. The next day, he got arrested for robbery of a gas station, and sentenced to five years in prison. His wife divorced him and had a son, Patrick.
Shortly after his release from prison, and his divorce from his first wife, Eddie Lee met Estella May. They married and settled in Stark County, Ohio, where they would have 12 children. Seven boys, and five girls; Willie, Patrick, Eddie Jr, Christopher, Matthew, James, Charles, Estella (Stella, or Pixie), Sherri, Machelle, Lana, and Kimberly.
Raising his family in an almost cult like manner, Eddie and Estella May, would commit extreme acts of abuse almost daily. ALL of the children were sexually abused, by both parents. They were beaten and locked in their rooms for minor infractions. Eddie allowed the children to attend public school, but they were only allowed one friend and not allowed to visit their friends homes, nor have their friends visit their home.
Eddie had mock wedding ceremonies with several of his daughters, pictures show bridal veils and the ceremony performed in the living room. This was a prelude to him raping his daughters. It is believed that Eddie’s daughter Pixie was willingly having intercourse with her father. Love letters from Pixie to her father were later uncovered, and some of the other children had witnessed them having sex together outside the home. After impregnating his daughter, Estella (Pixie) he encouraged her to find a boyfriend so that the suspicion wouldn’t fall on him. Another daughter, Sherri, would also bear a child by her father.
Pixie, met Joel Good, a classmate who was slow-witted and overly trusting. They did eventually marry, even though his family had suspicions of Pixie and the parentage of her two young girls. After the wedding, Pixie gave birth to a boy, who was given the name Skipper Good. Joel and Pixie never consummated their marriage, so the child she named Skipper could only have been her father’s child.
The county officials had been maintaining a file on the Sexton family since 1979. They had lacked evidence of the abuse and neglect towards the children. Until 1992.
Machelle, who was now 18, informed employees at a women’s shelter that her father had raped her. Because of this, three of the six minor children still living at home were removed and went into foster care. Machelle later retracted her allegations, complicating an already complicated case.
After several months in the foster system, young Lana Sexton confided in her foster mother that her birth mother had sexually abused her. She was given a medical exam that found scarring consistent with her story. The county moved to take custody of all the minor children. Eddie Lee and his wife Estella, tried to slow the process with legal motions and attempting to prove Native American ancestry to shift the case to a tribal court.
When they became ineffective, the Sexton’s went on the run. Eddie, Estella, three of the minor children, several adult children including Joel and Pixie and their three young children. A total of 11 people lived in a cramped van as they roamed the country. Eventually they ended up in Florida, at the campsites at the Little Manatee River State Park. Eddies planned for a showdown with the police.
October 19 or 20, 1993. Pixie smothered her son Skipper to death. He had been ill and Eddie refused a doctor visit. Pixie believed her father had the power to resurrect the child. He was eventually buried in a peat bog near the camp site. Joel was suspicious of the excuse Pixie gave him about Skipper dying of SIDS.
When Joel and Pixie went to a library, Eddie was furious that they went without his permission. The librarian overheard Pixie tell Eddie, that Joel was heartbroken over Skipper’s death and wanted to return to Ohio. Eddie told Pixie that Joel would return to Ohio only as a corpse. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Joel was murdered by 24 year old Willie Sexton. He was buried in a swamp not far from Skipper.
They were finally arrested in January of 1994. The investigation and trial into this sordid family saga lasted until November of 1994, when, after 3 hours of deliberation, Eddie Lee Sexton was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was granted a second trial where he was again found guilty and sentenced to death again in 1998. He died of natural causes in prison in Florida in 2010. In October 2017, Estella May died of natural causes as well, aged 70.
Be ever alert to those around you, make good choices, stay safe