Meet Herb Whitlock, freed after doing 21 yeas for a double murder he didn't commit.
A couple of hours later, after his family bought jeans that fit him, he arrived at a Paris banquet hall, grinning broadly to the applause of dozens of well-wishers.
They included retired Illinois State Police Lt. Michale Callahan, who eight years earlier concluded that Whitlock and his former drinking buddy and co-defendant, Gordon "Randy" Steidl, were innocent. Also, there was private investigator Bill Clutter. Sixteen years earlier, he turned up much of the evidence that freed Steidl and Whitlock.
"This whole case is a travesty, 21 years of deceit and cover-up," Callahan said after seeing Whitlock freed. "I think this should be an example that this can happen to anyone in this country if government is allowed to go unchecked."
Wrongful-prosecution experts long have said Whitlock and Steidl were railroaded in a miscarriage of justice based on the testimony of two lying, substance-abusing witnesses, both of whom repeatedly changed their stories. No physical evidence implicated Whitlock and Steidl in the crime.
Callahan identified other potential suspects in the case and later won a civil suit against his superiors, alleging they reassigned him to less-prestigious duties in retaliation for accusing them of thwarting his effort to follow leads he developed.
Whitlock missed the death of his mother and father. And of course, the families of the two victims now have to face the possibility that their killer(s) were never brought to justice.