Police say he admitted to killing nephew, 5. But his attorney tells a different story

Anthony Woodson’s aunt explains why she thinks her brother didn’t kill her nephew

Merlene Murkledove, sister of Terry Woodson and Anthony Woodson's aunt explains why she thinks her brother didn't kill her nephew more than thirty years ago and that she believes he's still alive.
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Merlene Murkledove, sister of Terry Woodson and Anthony Woodson's aunt explains why she thinks her brother didn't kill her nephew more than thirty years ago and that she believes he's still alive.

A man accused of killing his young nephew 37 years ago and then making it look like a kidnapping, insisted to his attorney Wednesday that he did not confess to police and “never touched the child.”

Walt Cleveland, the court-appointed attorney for Terry Lee Woodson, said he met with Woodson for about an hour Wednesday at the Lon Evans Correction Center.

Cleveland said Woodson, 64, is a severe diabetic who has been undergoing dialysis treatment three times a week for the past two years.

“He says, ‘Sometimes I don’t even remember talking to the police officer because I was having those low-blood sugar attacks,’ ” Cleveland said. “He said, ‘I never touched the child.’ ”

Terry Woodson.jpg
Terry Lee Woodson Courtesy Tarrant County Sheriff's Office

Woodson was charged last week with murder in the presumed death of his 5-year-old nephew, Anthony “Burt” Woodson.

Terry Lee Woodson had reported his nephew missing on Aug. 29, 1981. He told police he had taken Burt with him early that morning to a 7-Eleven convenience store in Mansfield, but left the boy in the backseat of his car to sleep.

He said he returned home and discovered the child was missing.

Anthony Tyrone Woodson.jpg
Anthony Tyrone Woodson The Doe Network website

Mansfield police began re-investigating the case in May 2017 and later sought the help of a Texas Ranger and Department of Justice agent.

Over a series of five interviews, Woodson began to change his story, eventually confessing in March that he and his wife, Della, had beaten Burt with the extension cord from a living room lamp on the night of Aug. 27 or 28th, police say.

“She started it and I finished it,” he allegedly told investigators, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Woodson told investigators they then left the boy under a blanket in his bedroom without seeking medical care for him, the affidavit states.

After Burt died from his injuries, Woodson told investigators he dumped his nephew’s body in heavy brush off Lakeview Road and drove to the convenience store to set up the missing person/kidnapping alibi, the affidavit states.

The boy’s remains have never been found.

Cleveland said that in his talk with Woodson on Wednesday, he inquired about Woodson’s conversations with investigators.

“He said, ‘I was raised to be honest. I tried to be as helpful as I could,’ ” Cleveland said.

But Cleveland said Woodson told him that officers would pick him up from his sister’s house where he lives, sometimes right after his dialysis treatment.

“He said, ‘I’m just fuzzy,’ ” Cleveland said.

Mansfield police didn’t respond to an email seeking comment regarding Cleveland’s statements.

But the affidavit says a former playmate of the boy recently told investigators that both Woodson and his wife had been abusive to Burt up until his disappearance.

The friend, as well as a second playmate, also told police that they heard Burt getting beaten on the night of Aug. 27, 1981, while he was home alone with his aunt and uncle.

When they inquired about Burt the next morning, they told police, Della Woodson told them Burt was in trouble and they would not be seeing him. They never saw the boy again, the affidavit states.

The affidavit describes the playmates as “auditory witnesses” who corroborate Woodson’s statement to investigators.

The Woodsons later divorced. Della Woodson has since died.

Cleveland says he hasn’t seen or heard any recordings of the interviews with his client so he can’t file any motions to suppress the alleged confessions yet.

“But my intent is to fight the case at this point, use all my legal resources and everything to get Mr. Woodson back home, which is what he said he wanted to do. He wanted to go home.”

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Deanna Boyd: 817-390-7655, @deannaboyd