November 3, 1998
Jacksonville, Florida
14-year-old Joshua Phillips beats and stabs his 8-year-old neighbor Maddie Clifton and hides her under his waterbed mattress

After his arrest, Phillips stated he accidentally hit Maddie in the eye with a baseball bat as the children played. He claimed that in a state of panic, fearing he would get in trouble, he continued to beat her with the bat and stabbed Maddie nine times in her body and twice in her neck to stop her screams. After the bludgeoning and stabbing, Phillips hid Maddie beneath a plywood sheet which held up his waterbed mattress. During her autopsy it was revealed Maddie was still alive when she was shoved under the bed.

After Maddie failed to come home, a search party was formed. Phillips assisted in the search.

A week after the murder, on November 10, Phillips’ mother noticed a foul smell coming from her son’s room. Upon investigating, she noticed a liquid oozing from beneath the bed. She moved the mattress to reveal Maddie’s feet, ran in terror from her home, and stopped a police officer to report the finding but was unable to speak aloud what she had seen. Phillips was arrested that day at school and confessed to police. He was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.


  • Cohen, Sharon. “Mother has hope her son someday will be released.” The Chippewa Herald [Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin]. December 9, 2007
  • “Life term upheld for 14-year-old killer.” Tampa Bay Times. February 7, 2002
  • “Teen’s murder trial starts Tuesday.” News-Press [Fort Myers, Florida]. July 5, 1999
  • “Teen held until trial in killing.” The Daily Journal [Vineland, New Jersey]. November 12, 1998

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