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Dorothy Dixon Update: First Jury Trial Scheduled Next Week

I wrote about the case of Dorothy Dixon on this blog  almost a year ago. I also mentioned Dorothy Dixon in an article I did for the September issue of ESSENCE magazine about maternal homicide.

For those who don't know, Dorothy Dixon was a pregnant mentally disabled Black woman who was tortured for months allegedly by the people who who lived off her Social Security check:

Although her main torturer appears to have allegedly been a White woman, this case got almost NO media attention because two Black teens were also implicated in the crime. Thus "technically" Dixon fell into the relm of a victim of Black on Black crime, thus she gets no attention. Michelle Riley worked at a state facility where Dixon lived and eventually took up residence with Dixon, collecting Dixon's Social Security check and serving as a ring leader in the ongoing torture of Dixon. They literally used Dorothy Dixon for target practice, the coroner removed BB pellets that were embedded into her skin:
Banished to the basement, the 29-year-old mother with a childlike mind and another baby on the way had little more than a thin rug and a mattress to call her own on the chilly concrete floor. Five adults and a 12-year-old child were charged with Dorothy Dixon's murder.

Dorothy Dixon ate what she could forage from the refrigerator upstairs, where housemates used her for target practice with BBs, burned her with a glue gun and doused her with scalding liquid that peeled away her skin. They torched what few clothes she had, so she walked around naked. They often pummeled her with an aluminum bat or metal handle.

Dixon -- six months pregnant -- died after weeks of abuse. Police have charged two adults, three teenagers and a 12-year-old boy with murder in the case that has repulsed many in this Mississippi River town.
Investigators put much of the blame on Michelle Riley, 35, who they said befriended Dixon but pocketed monthly Social Security checks she got because of her developmental delays.

Dixon saw little, if any, of the money, Hayes said. For months she weathered the torment to keep a roof over her head and that of her year-old son, who weighed just 15 pounds when taken into state custody after his mom's death....

Hayes watched the autopsy and found her injuries disturbing. X-rays revealed roughly 30 BBs lodged in her. Deep-tissue burns covered about one-third of her body -- her face, her chest, her arms and feet -- and left her severely dehydrated. Her face and body showed signs of prolonged abuse. Many of her wounds were infected.

None of the injuries, Hayes said, proved singly fatal to Dixon. Her system already was taxed by her unborn baby.

"The autopsy sort of indicates her immune system just shut down," he said. "It was not capable of fending off any more." Source

Now the media trail that was cold following Dixon's death has grown ICE COLD in the intervening months so I took it upon myself to check in with the court handling the case and surprise, the first jury trial in this case is scheduled for 9:00AM on April 6, 2009. Judy Woods is the defendant. The trial of the suspected ringleader, Michelle Reilly, is scheduled for April 13, 2009. Interestingly enough they have both been assigned different judges same prosecutor.

I don't know if the trials will actually occur or if they will be delayed, but I will check in again next week to see what is going on. If you are in the St. Louis area, I believe Alton, IL is about 15 miles north.

Reader Comments (19)

Thanks for staying in the loop on this. When you first reported on this, I forwarded the stories to everyone in my address book. I am heartbroken over this and try to picture that these two ignoramus black boys would turn on their white female ringleader and refuse to hurt Dorothy Dixon, a black woman (just like their mothers) in any way and turn Michelle Riley's evil behind in to authorities. But then reality quickly comes back I am forced to realize they helped to kill this poor woman who fell through society's cracks in a most horrific way, showing absolutely no mercy.

I trust that all the perps will get their due in court. I appreciate all the wonderful work you do on behalf of black women and girls. Thanks.

March 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLorraine

Sad to say, I can understand them stealing her social security check, I can even understand those people neglecting her. But to go out of the way to be cruel, to treat her as if she was some type of animal?!
People truly baffle me sometimes.

March 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKjen

Some people question why a loving God made hell. Well, I don't. He made it for Satan and his fallen angels with plenty of room left over for scum like this who tortured this poor woman and her child. All of them deserve the death penalty.

March 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKitty

I don't know if this is off topic or what but I see more incidents of BM hanging with white people participating in tomfoolery against other people of color. In Long Island some black boy commited a hate crime against a Mexican man with a bunch of white boys.
I mean BM are sometimes the first ones to throw up the oppressed card and then I see they are the ones who turn around and abuse other people of color with their white friends/girlfriends. Is this post racial or something?

March 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNaima

This is my first time reading about this case. It is truly a sad example of how human beings can be cruel to one another. I hope that they all go to jail for the rest of their life. I'm saddened to see that a 12-year old was involved in the abuse and death of Ms. Dixon. That 12-year old is scarred for life as well...

peace, Villager

March 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVillager

When I read this the first time I was either pregnant or delivered my youngest. I bawled. I couldn't even finish.

We have to care more about each other. I am reading more and more about people who go off the deep end or are harmed because people don't care about others. We have to help.

March 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSeattle Slim

Michelle Riley is biracial.

March 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSue

I hadn't heard about this, I will circulate it as I am here in the St. Louis area. Thanks for all you do on behalf of the missing, murdered, and exploited black women the MSM chooses to ignore!

March 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTaye' Foster Bradshaw

May she get the peace in the afterlife that she didn't have here.

April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaith

@Naima: Evil knows no color. So I'm not surprised when people of different races with evil intent get together. It's not exactly "post racial", but it seems that way.

Dorothy Dixon was not a relatively pretty white girl, and thus was deemed "not newsworthy". Sad, but that's how it is. But it doesn't have to be this way, and it shouldn't be.

April 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterxd

Michelle Riley will go on trial at 1 pm on April 13. Judy Woods is scheduled for 9 am on April 16. I called the county circuit court and was provided this info.


April 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmber Smock

As a former co-worker of Michelle Riley's, and someone who knew her well, along with Dorothy Dixon, I must correct an error in this report. Michelle met Dorothy through a Center for Independent Living. It is not a residential facility. It is a state and federally funded advocacy organization run by and for the disabled.

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterredcat1

i knew michelle and this totally blew my mind. my son went to school with the younger girl. and to think that she was this way and i called her my friend. SICK!1

May 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjesse

Do you have any further updates on what kind of outcome there was for the trials (if they are even over)? I, too, was very upset by this case and blogged about it a year ago. And I also was very upset it did not get more attention. She was an innocent person who was systematically abused and tortured by the people who were supposed to be helping her. She had an innocent mind, and she was pregnant to boot. It's pure evil. It hurts me to think how frightened she must have been at the hands of these horrible people. Thank you for bringing attention to this crime. I am a white woman; it absolutely made me heartsick that this poor lady and her innocent baby were victims of such cruelty.

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterIK

The last I heard, Michelle Rielly was scheduled for trial on June 1st. Will check in again next week.

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

Read about this in (that dreaded) Essence magazine. How sickening. May every single person involved in her demise rot UNDER the prison (if they don't get their asses whipped by their fellow prisoners first).

June 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSpinster

And here again the story has went quiet! Its not about blackor white it was how a group of people could be so cruel to a pregnant woman and her child!:( I have followed and will follow these people as judy woods is running free in quincy I'll.:( She is even on facebook! What justice?

December 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternancyt

Have you researched this case recently? If not you should.....id say its a "light" punishment for what these animals did to this poor woman. But Illinois also doesnt give the death penalty. Id like to read your thoughts on this.

April 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenaK

I recently read about this horrible story in 2011. I can't stop thinking about how this poor lady suffered. My heart is crying out everyday for her. What kind of demons could do somethig like this to another person. They even abused her little baby boy, how evil. Why am I just hearing about this case now. This story should have been all over the news worldwide. I wish all of those devils involved in this lady 's torture could be turned over to the people in the streets for justice. I am a christian but I would be there beating and burning them to hell. I do feel sorry for the 12 year old boy involved but someone should have and could have stop this unthinkable torture. How is Dorothy's baby doing now. Can someone tell me, if they know. Where was Dorothy's family? May our loving God bless Dorothy, her unborn son and little Zion. She feels the love from everybody and is now an angel walking amongst us. We love you!

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjama

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