By Cal Fussman
July 15, 2011
Nobody has ever bought a jersey with the name Dewey Rader Bozella on it. There are no sneakers embossed with a DRB logo. Few people in the world of sports have ever heard of Dewey Rader Bozella.
But a week from today, Dewey will step on stage at the ESPYs to speak.
Naturally, he’s a little nervous about it. Millions of people will be watching on television. And he’ll be at the podium for three to four minutes. That’s a long time for an awards ceremony — though nowhere near long enough to tell all that needs to be told. Maybe it’s simply enough that Dewey speaks and is heard.
For many years after he was first suspected of murder in 1977, it was hard for Dewey to talk about it. Murder is actually a kind way of describing what happened.
Dewey was suspected of entering the home of a 92-year-old woman who had just returned from playing bingo at St. Joseph’s Church in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., binding her with electrical cord and stuffing 5 feet of cloth down her throat with a tool resembling a chisel until she suffocated.
There were no fingerprints of Dewey’s at the scene of the crime. In fact, there was no physical evidence at all to suggest he had ever entered the home. That’s because Dewey was bicycling alone miles away when the murder took place.
But Dewey was arrested. If prosecutors were looking for a suspect with a troubled past, they certainly had a good candidate. When he was 9 years old, Dewey saw his father batter his pregnant mother. His mother died from the beating, and his father ran away and never came back. Dewey and his nine siblings grew up in a series of foster homes.