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Police tapes reveal accused killer's 1991 plea for help

'Prison ain't going to help me,' Couey said in confession

John Couey confessed to killing Jessica Lunsford, police said.
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John Couey pleaded for help controlling his urges.
Crime, Law and Justice

(CNN) -- The man charged with killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford confessed in 1991 that he tried to molest a 5-year-old girl, telling police "I need help," according to a tape obtained by CNN.

The suspect, 46-year-old John Evander Couey, was charged this week with capital murder, burglary with battery, kidnapping and sexual battery on a child younger than 12.

Couey had been arrested 25 times previously in Florida -- the same state as where he allegedy kidnapped and killed Jessica.

In the confession recorded 14 years ago, he described what he did to the 5-year-old girl in her back yard.

"She was riding across and I went over there, and she offered to go in the back yard to jump on the trampoline. And I said 'OK.' We went back there and she was jumping on there," he said on the tape. "I asked if she wanted to play hide and go seek and she said yes, so we did."

Couey acknowledged to police that he exposed himself, that the girl then sat on his lap -- voluntarily, he claimed -- and that he put the girl's hand on him.

"Then her mother come out and yelled for her and I took off," Couey said.

"I feel that prison ain't going to help me," he said. "I got a 10-year sentence and I done got out in three years, and it doesn't really help. I feel that I need help for myself. That's why I'm confessing to my crime that I committed tonight, 'cause I want help for myself so I will never have to be this again. I mean I feel bad about it, really I do.

"I feel that if I can get help for myself then I can make a better person out of myself," he said.

Couey was given the maximum sentence for attempted molestation -- five years -- and was out on parole after two years.

He told police at the time that his effort to molest a young girl was not a one-time event.

A written report by the officer who took the taped confession said: "Couey admitted that this was not the first child he had ever touched, however, this is the first time he was caught."

The officer continued: "Couey admitted to molesting his wife's daughter, however, she agreed not to report the incident if he left the house and gave her a divorce, which he did. Couey knows he has a problem, however, has never sought medical assistance to help him control his sexual attraction for young children."

CNN tried unsuccessfully to locate Couey's former wife for comment.

Fourteen years after Couey's plea for help, police sources said, he entered Lunsford's house the night of February 23, made his way to the girl's room, covered her mouth, ordered her to remain quiet and forced her to leave.

Authorities found her body March 19, buried behind the home of Couey's half sister in Homosassa, Florida, north of Tampa.

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