DICKSON, Tenn. (WTVF) — A stunning new development in the Joe Clyde Daniels murder case - just weeks before trial is set to begin, a crucial new witness has surfaced.
She will be under subpoena and her testimony will raise new questions about what happened to the missing little boy.
It's been three years, and you may ask: A key, new witness surfaces only now? How does that happen?
Well, this lead appears to have been buried under the reams of evidence collected in the case.
"This witness is very significant," said Jake Lockert, the lawyer for Joe Clyde's father.
He said there is a potential second witness who saw Joe Clyde alive.
"Yeah, she will be subpoenaed to testify in the case," said Lockert.
Until then, her name is not public.
Lockert represents Joseph Daniels who is charged with killing his 5-year-old son Joe Clyde three years ago in Dickson County.
Daniels initially confessed, saying he beat his son to death in the home and then disposed of the body - which has never been found. He since recanted and Lockert says his client's confession was coerced.
"There is just not evidence to corroborate what is clearly a false confession," said Lockert.
The defense makes the case that Joe Clyde, who was autistic, was not killed by his father, but wandered away that evening.
"What you have here is 1112 Garner's Creek Road - the Daniels' residence," said Lockert pointing to a map.
Authorities confirm a single witness - a passing motorist - reported seeing a small child walking alone on Garner's Creek Road the night Joe Clyde disappeared.
If it was Joe Clyde, some allege the father chased him down and brought the boy back into the home.
But now this new development:
"We find a lady whose child, within a day or two, came in to say there is a little boy out front in dirty pajamas," said Lockert.
Could this be a second witness to see the child in the hours after he disappeared?
Lockert only recently found the report filed with the Humphreys County sheriff three years ago.
A woman called to say her 5-year-old daughter was outside the day or two after Joe Clyde disappeared and encountered a small boy. The little girl said she spoke with the boy and only later mentioned his odd responses to her mother.
"She asked him what his name was and he said five," said Lockert. "Those aren't logical responses, but you essentially have an autistic child who is nonverbal."
Joe Clyde's grandfather said the boy often referred to himself as five, his age, instead of using his name.
If this was Joe Clyde- it means he wandered some 6 miles overnight and then was spotted hours later before disappearing again.
"It is significant because it shows the child was alive after the time period where my client said he killed the child," said Lockert.
The mother says authorities told her they would be out to investigate, but never showed. Lockert says the search effort for Joe Clyde changed for authorities after the boy's father confessed.
"Once they got a confession they quit following up," he said.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has continued to work the case... just this past summer digging up part of the Daniels' family property looking for Joe Clyde's remains.
But, apparently, no one pursued that tip from the mother and her daughter about the possible sighting... until now - and it could be crucial to the case.
The mother will testify at trial. Was the boy her daughter saw Joe Clyde? And, if so... what happened to him?
All questions for the jury to decide.
Joseph Daniels is set to stand trial early next month. A jury will be brought in from outside Dickson County.
The mother Krystal - who is charged with aggravated child neglect - will stand trial later this year.
Previous stories: Joe Clyde Daniels case
- Lawyers argue over admissibility of evidence in Joe Clyde case
- Prosecutors, defense agree to sever Daniels' cases into two trials
- Attorneys use taped interrogation in hearing to argue Joseph Daniels' confession was coerced
- Joseph Daniels' recanted confession played in court
- TBI serves search warrant in Joe Clyde Daniels case, searches brush around home
- Video evidence shows someone at Joe Clyde Daniels' home the night 5-year-old disappeared
- Krystal Daniels recants statement about what happened to son, Joe Clyde
- Jailhouse phone calls could be key to prosecution of Joe Clyde Daniels homicide case
- Letter from Joe Clyde's Father: "If we can get Krystal to confess...we can win this case."