Springfield, MO – The 7-year-old was playing in a bedroom of a family member’s home Saturday night. It was late. She was allowed to watch movies and play, because it was a weekend. Her grandmother and several friends and relatives were playing cards in the living room. After recent flooding rains, it was a pretty night, and the windows to the house in north Springfield were open. By Sunday morning, the little girl’s life would be permanently altered.
Jeffrey A. Dickson, 36, had been in the house before. A cousin of some of the people who were in the home, he knew there would be a little girl tucked into bed, dozing off to a movie on the small TV. In the small hours of Sunday morning, he came through the window and took the child, never entering the house by a door, never creaking a floorboard. Her grandmother never knew she was gone.
Dickson took the child a few blocks north to a vacant house on Nichols Street – a part of town where bungalows are small and people don’t ask a lot of questions at night. He lit up a pipe and made the girl take a puff – she didn’t know what was in the pipe, she said later, but it made her brain “not work right”. Then he raped the little girl, assaulted her in other ways, and choked her. The assault went on for hours.
The bright little brown-eyed girl realized she was going to die, so she did the best thing she could – she played dead, and Dickson, high himself, stopped choking her and left the room. The girl didn’t move. She stayed right there, her head swimming, and passed out.
When she awoke, the little house on Nichols Street was on fire. The child saw flames above her and managed to get out of the house, but was hurt and cold and didn’t know where she was. But after walking around a little, she realized that there were fire trucks at the house and she went back. A city fire marshal saw the child out at 5:30 on Sunday morning and went to help her, and the little girl told him everything, down to the clothes her attacker was wearing.
After enduring a rape exam and a lot of questioning, the brave little girl picked Jeff Dickson out of a six-man lineup on Monday after police picked him up on an unrelated probation violation. Her story never wavered, and Dickson eventually admitted to entering the home where his victim had been taken and giving her some juice that night.
Jeff Dickson is on probation for no less than five crimes through 2011 and 2012. Last week, he’d been bugging his probation officer to let him leave the area. Dickson was not a known sex offender: his crimes range from burglary to drugs to persistent DUI to domestic violence. Now he can add child rape to that list.
Jeffrey A. Dickson is now charged with child kidnapping, forcible rape and two counts of forcible sodomy. Other charges may yet be forthcoming. Dickson is being held at the Greene County Jail on one million dollars bond.
The little girl was returned to her family after being treated for her injuries. The victim’s family no doubt has their own ideas of how justice should be served in this case. One source says that Dickson is a “safer man in jail than out”. Here’s hoping Jeff Dickson stays incarcerated for a very, very long time.Abduction, child rape, fire, Kidnapping