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Records: Kin accused sex offender of abuse

From Patrick Oppmann and
Susan Candiotti

John Couey has confessed to killing Jessica Lunford, but has not pleaded guilty to the charges.


Crime, Law and Justice

(CNN) -- Court documents indicate that family members of sex offender John Couey recently told police he sexually abused their daughters years before he was arrested for murdering 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford.

Couey is charged with capital murder, burglary with battery, kidnapping and sexual battery on a child younger than 12 in the February 23 abduction.

Although Couey earlier confessed to killing the child, he has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is in the Citrus County jail awaiting trial.

Couey lived in a mobile home about a football field's length away from Jessica's Homosassa, Florida, home.

He told police that he kept Jessica alive in his room for several days then buried her alive.

Monday, the Citrus County state attorney released more than 800 pages of court documents as part of the discovery phase in which litigants exchange information to prepare for trial.

The public gained access to the records under Florida's Sunshine Law which allows general scrutiny of some government records.

According to statements given to police by Couey's half sister, Dorothy Dixon, who also shared the mobile home with him, Couey had years earlier exposed himself and inappropriately touched two of her daughters.

Despite that claim and Couey's history as a sex offender, Dixon let her 46-year-old half brother live in her mobile home and didn't think to report him when Jessica was reported missing.

"I would have done something to try and help that little girl, or just turned him in or something ... because I got three girls of my own, and I wouldn't want that to happen to mine, and I would not lie for him, I would not cover for him for something like that," according to a police transcript of her interrogation.

Dixon and her daughter, Madie Secord, told police that in the first days of the widespread search for Jessica, Couey acted normally, and nothing suggested that he was keeping the child alive in the mobile home with them.

After friends told Dixon that Couey was on a list of area sex offenders and that police were looking for him, she gave him $200 and Secord helped her uncle buy a bus ticket to Savannah, Georgia.

Prosecutors said that Dixon, her daughter and another man who shared the mobile home did not violate state law by allowing Couey to live with them and helping him to flee.

Among the records was an interview with Karen Couey, the suspect's estranged wife. It says she told investigators her husband disappeared during late 1989 or early 1990, shortly after she allegedly found him abusing her daughter who was 6 or 7.

She did not return CNN phone calls about the matter. But during a 1991 investigation of unrelated child molestation charges against Couey, records state that he told police in Kissimmee, Florida, he had abused his wife's daughter.

"Couey knows he has a problem, however, he has never sought medical assistance to help him control his sexual attraction for young children," the Kissimmee police report said.

That report was not among the discovery documents.

Other disclosed documents revealed that two of Jessica's fingerprints were on a pizza box and a glass table in Couey's bedroom, and her blood was on a mattress in his bedroom.

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