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Man Wrongly Convicted Of Murder Talks About How He Lost All Hope In New Podcast

Rodney Lincoln, who spent 36 years behind bars for the murder of JoAnn Tate, discusses his wrongful conviction in "The Real Killer" podcast.

By Gina Tron
Rodney Lincoln Ayr Media

A Missouri man who served 36 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit is expressing his pain in a new podcast that highlights wrongful convictions and injustice.

Rodney Lincoln, now 77, was 37 when JoAnn Tate, a woman he was dating casually, was stabbed to death inside her St. Louis home in 1982. Her two young daughters, 7-year-old Melissa and 4-year-old Renee, were also brutally attacked but survived. 

That same year, Lincoln was convicted of Tate’s murder and sentenced to life without parole. The prosecution relied on the eyewitness testimony of Melissa, who initially identified her mom’s killer as a man named “Bill,” the Midwest Innocence Project has pointed out.

For decades, Lincoln and his family fought to prove he was innocent. “The Real Killer” podcast chronicles that tough journey. DNA found on a hair at the scene wasn’t tested until 2010 when the Midwest Innocence Project took on the case. The DNA didn’t match Rodney to the scene but a judge ruled that wasn’t enough to exonerate him. Even after Melissa recanted her accusation in 2015, he remained behind bars. 

The new podcast, produced by Leah Rothman and AYR Media, interviews Lincoln as it highlights his wrongful conviction and fight for freedom.

“They say justice is supposed to be equal to law,” Lincoln reflects in the newest episode of the podcast, which dropped this week. “I never talked to anyone who believed that justice is equal to law and some of these people I talked to are judges.”

Joann Tate Ayr Media

By the time Lincoln was finally released from prison in 2018, he was 72. Just three months later, he went skydiving with his son. But that zest for life was nearly lost behind bars.

"I lost track of keeping pace with the world in an environment that was stationary,” Lincoln said in a statement provided to Oxygen.com.

Rothman, who also hosts the podcast, told Oxygen.com that Lincoln is “a true inspiration.”

"He's the walking definitions of strength, resilience and compassion,” she said.

Tate's real killer has never been caught.