Billy Dean Rowe: Wrong Man Jailed For Child Porn, Now The Real Suspect Can’t Be Prosecuted Despite Confession

Billy Dean Rowe spent three days in jail in Michigan for possession of child porn before police found out their grave error — they really wanted Billy Joe Rowe.

Now, because of a series of mistakes made by state police, the real suspect will never see any jail time despite confessing to police.

The case of mistaken identity was six years in the making. In 2005, state trooper Dennis Milburn followed up on a tip and seized a computer that they believe Billy Joe Rowe used to search for child porn. After questioning, Rowe reportedly admitted to it.

That was where the mistake happened. In his official report, Milburn misspelled the suspect’s name as Billy Dean Rowe — which just happened to be the same name as an innocent man who lived more than 100 miles away.

Despite the confession, the case sat on a desk for six years. There were some paperwork problems that prevented investigators from searching the hard drive, but just as the statute of limitations was about to expire, they were able to search it, finding many images of child pornography.

A new lead investigator decided to file charges, so police came looking for Billy Dean Rowe, the name still on the police report. Rowe said officers came to his door and simply asked if he was Billy Rowe, to which he said yes.

“He said, ‘Well, we have a warrant for your arrest out of Flint,’ and I says, ‘Out of Flint? I’ve never been to Flint.’ … I asked him what it was for and they told me they couldn’t say. When I said, ‘Why am I going to Flint?’ he says, ‘You’ll find out when you get there.'”

Rowe said he was handcuffed to a wall where he had to sit for five hours. He ended up behind bars for three days.

“I was in the cell,” Rowe told Target 8. “I just laid in the bed all the time. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do nothing. I just did a lot of praying.”

Eventually, after hours of protesting that he knew nothing of the arrest and had never lived in the town where the crime took place, police decided to take a picture of the man in jail and bring it to the family of Billy Joe Rowe. They told police they had the wrong man, and Billy Dean Rowe was released.

In that time, the falsely-imprisoned Rowe had been fired from his job, although his employer reinstated him after learning of the mix-up.

Now, Billy Dean Rowe wants police to be held accountable for the false arrest. He has filed a lawsuit against the Michigan state police, asking for unspecified damages. But police will never be able to bring charges against the real suspect, Billy Joe Rowe, because the statute of limitations has now expired.

[Image via WWLP]