Michael Roy Toney
(December 29, 1965- October 3, 2009), in 1999, was falsely
convicted and charged for a bombing that killed two males and one
female in Lake Worth, Texas in 1985. The incident also injured
another male and female.
He was sentenced to the death penalty and
served ten years on death row before being released on September
2, 2009, when the State of Texas dropped all charges against him.
The Conviction was overturned December 17, 2008 by the Texas Court
of Criminal Appeals. He died in a tragic auto accident near Rusk,
Texas just one month later on October 3, 2009.
Toney grew up in Cottonwood, California, a
small town that was about 90 miles away from Sacramento. His
father left the family early in his life and his mother worked in
local taverns. She would bring home a number of men who would beat
her and her sons. To escape from this, Michael would often retreat
to a shed. When Toney was 9 or 10 years old, one of her boyfriends
strapped him to a chair, duct-taped his wrists down and set fire
to his hands.
When he was 15, another one of
his mother's boyfriends attacked him with a fishing gaff and
gouged a huge hole in his hip. He quit school before the 10th
grade and left for Texas, settling down in Hurst-Euless, Bedford
area of Tarrant County. He married a woman named Kim when he was
38 years old.
On the Saturday morning of October 3, 2009,
Toney lost control of a pickup truck he was driving, causing it to
roll over and ejecting Toney from the vehicle. There was no one
else in the car.
History of the Case
On the evening of Thanksgiving Day, November
28, 1985, in the Hilltop Mobile Home Park between Lake Worth and
Azle, Texas, three members of the Blount family were instantly
killed by an explosion. Joe Blount, his daughter Angela, and
Angela's cousin, Michael Columbus, were killed when a bomb that
was in a briefcase exploded. The briefcase was reportedly found on
or near the steps of their home. Joe Blount was a 44-year-old
skilled mechanic. Angela Blount was only 15 years old and Michael
Columbus was 18.
How it happened
Joe Blount, Angela Blount, Robert Blount,
Michael Columbus, Susan Blount and Carl "Ray" Blount celebrated
Thanksgiving together in the Blount's trailer in the suburbs of
Fort Worth, Texas. Robert was the son of Susan and Joe Blount.
Carl "Ray" was the brother of Joe Blount. Michael Columbus was
Carl's long-estranged son.
After the family ate Thanksgiving dinner, Ray
Blount went home around 5:00 p.m. Around 9:00 p.m., Susan Blount
went to lie down for a nap. Joe Blount drove Robert, Angela and
Michael to a convenience store about half a mile away from the
park where they bought snacks and beer. Susan Blount soon heard a
knock at the front door. She looked out the window but did not see
anybody she returned to her nap. When the rest of family returned
from the convenience store, they discovered a briefcase on the
doorstep. The three teenagers were excited because they thought
that the briefcase might have either money or jewels in it. After
bringing the briefcase inside, Angela opened the latches and it
In June 1997, Toney was in jail awaiting a
hearing for a burglary that happened in 1993. Here he was talking
Charles "Jack" Ferris in Parker County Jail in Weatherford Texas.
The two men began talking about the bombing. Ferris was then
released from jail by telling the Parker County authorities that
Toney had confessed to him. After Ferris told the authorities, the
investigators question Toney's ex-wife. In the beginning, Ms.
Toney told prosecutors "Michael killing people in a bombing?
You're nuts". But Ms. Toney decided to do some research on the
case. When she realized what had taken place, she called federal
agents and told her story. Soon after, Toney was indicted for
Months had passed, and Ferris had changed his
story about Toney's alleged confession to the crime. Ferris
explained how Toney had come up with the story in order to him out
of jail earlier. He told investigators that "Toney and me made up
the entire thing".
The started in May 1999, in Fort Worth, Texas.
Susan and Robert Blount gave their testimony as to what happened
that day. Then the testimony from his ex-wife, his ex-best friend
and another cellmate occurred. His ex-wife (Ms.Toney), said that
her, Toney and his best friend Chris Meeks went to a propane shop
that was adjacent to the Hilltop Mobile Home Park. She says that
Toney got out of the truck with a briefcase and disappeared. She
then says he returned without the briefcase and then they went to
the Nature Center and stayed for several hours. Her testimony also
included that Toney shot a beaver with a rifle while they were at
the Nature Center.
A cellmate of Michael Toney,
Finis Blankenship, testified that Toney told him that he was paid
$5,000 for the murders. Blankenship also said that Toney the
murders were part of a drug-related hit but the bomb was put on
the wrong doorstep. His testimony came in the second phase of the
trial, this helped the jury decide whether Toney deserved to be
executed. This testimony showed the jury that Toney had a motive
for the crime. At the current time, Blankenship was facing two
counts of indecency with a child and habitual-criminal charges so
he says that he agreed to testify against Toney in exchange for
having the charges dropped. Blankenship now says that his
testimony was a lie.Chris Meeks testimony didn't coincide with all
of Ms. Toney's testimony in many ways. Meeks changed his story
four times. At first he told investigators that he knew nothing
about the bombing as well as the Grand Jury. He also failed a
polygraph test. In 2001, he signed an affidavit taking back the
things he said during his testimony. He says that "My testimony
about the events that happened on Thanksgiving day, 1985, may not
have happened on that day."
The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office
had withheld 14 pieces of evidence that were key to his defense.
After this, Tarrant County prosecutors turned the case over to the
Attorney General of Texas.
Former death row inmate freed after conviction
Michael Roy Toney convicted in 1985 Thanksgiving bombing deaths
By Jeff Carlton - Statesman.com
September 4, 2009
DALLAS — An inmate once on death row in Texas
was a free man Thursday, nine months after his conviction was
overturned in the 1985 bombing deaths of three people on
The Texas attorney general's office dropped the
charges against Michael Roy Toney, 43, on Wednesday, and that
night he was released from the Tarrant County Jail in Fort Worth,
His release came a day before the attorney
general had to declare whether the state would again seek the
death penalty in the case.
State prosecutor Adrienne McFarland said in a
dismissal motion that there was not enough time to complete an
independent investigation before the Thursday deadline. The state
can refile charges if the investigation warrants it.
In a statement released Thursday through his
attorney, Toney thanked his friends, family and lawyers for their
"I have said all along that I was innocent of
these charges and I know that when the Attorney General reviews
the evidence, it will show that I am indeed innocent," he said.
Toney was convicted of a 1985 Thanksgiving
Angela Blount, 15, found a suitcase on the
porch of her home, took it inside and opened it. A bomb exploded,
killing her, along with her father, Joe Blount, 44, and her cousin
Michael Columbus, 18. Her mother and 14-year-old brother survived.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in
December that the lead prosecutor withheld evidence that could
have helped Toney during his 1999 trial, an assertion the district
attorney's office didn't dispute.
In January, the district attorney's office
recused itself from the case "to avoid the appearance of
impropriety," said District Attorney Joe Shannon.
The attorney general's office then took over
and reopened an investigation.
Toney remained in jail until Wednesday because
charges were still pending. He also had to post $25,000 bail on an
unrelated charge out of Polk County because he allegedly had a
cell phone on death row.
Susan Blount, whose husband and daughter were
killed in the bombing, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the
attorney general's office notified her about Toney's release.
"They wanted to let me know so I wouldn't be
surprised," Blount said. "They have indicated that it is still
their intent to retry the case but they needed more time to go
over all the information and evidence.
Michael R. Toney case account
As told to Justice Denied Magazine by Michael Tony
Edited by Clara A. Thomas Boggs
Justice: Denied -- The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted
Convicted by lies, Michael Toney tells his story with a plea for
help to save him from being killed by the state of Texas. If you
are persuaded that he is innocent, please help.
My name is Michael Roy Toney. I'm on Texas death row awaiting
execution. I was convicted in May of 1999 of a bombing that
occurred in Lake Worth, Texas on November 28th, 1985. This
terrible crime took the lives of three people. Their names are
Joe Blount, 42 years old, his 15-year-old daughter, Angela, and
his nephew, Michael Columbus, who was 18 years old.
This bombing happened on the evening of Thanksgiving 1985 and
the crime went unsolved for 14 years. The crime is still
unsolved but the case has been closed because of my conviction.
To say my conviction and subsequent death sentence is a
miscarriage of justice would be a definite understatement. I AM
INNOCENT and can prove it!
Shouldn't every effort be made to keep an innocent man from
being put to death? I don't like to use the word executed
because it's not an execution when the person being put to death
is innocent. It's MURDER! Shouldn't every effort be made to
bring the true murderers to justice? I hope the things I'm going
to tell you in this letter cause you to answer yes to both of
The crime I've been convicted of, and
sentenced to death for, is a briefcase bombing on a home in Lake
Worth, Texas. This crime was the longest running investigation
in the history of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
It was featured on the television shows "America's Most Wanted"
and "Unsolved Mysteries."
The reports say someone put a briefcase on
the Blount family's porch and they carried it inside and opened
it. When it was opened, it exploded and they were killed. There
were two survivors, Joe's wife, Susan, and their son, Robert.
During the long investigation, no motive was determined and no
arrests were made. At least not until my indictment and arrest
on December 4th, 1997.
During the charade of a trial, no motive was
proven. I say charade of a trial because that's exactly what it
was. The entire trial centered on lies. I'll get to that later.
There were only theories as to why the bombing happened and no
evidence to support any theory.
Since the trial, I have received numerous letters from people
saying they know I'm innocent because they know who really did
the bombing and why it was done. Yes, I have learned who really
did the crime and why they did it. The real murderers will
remain free to commit more murders if I don't somehow get people
to listen to my pleas and get the investigation reopened.
I spent Thanksgiving 1985 at my friend, Chris Meek's, home in
Keller, Texas. Present that day were Chris, his mother, his
stepfather, his girlfriend and I. That evening I received a
phone call from my girlfriend, Kim, who I later married on March
4th, 1986. We divorced in 1989. Kim called to tell me she was
leaving her family get together and was going to her apartment.
We had agreed to meet at her apartment that evening. I got in my
car and left Keller by myself. Chris stayed home with his family.
Kim and I had just met less then a month prior so we were still
in the phase of our relationship where we spent about every
minute we could together.
I have to jump ahead to 1997 now. In June of 1997, I met a man
named Bennie Joe Toole. This was actually the second time we had
met. We first met in 1990 but we didn't realize that until we
talked for a little while. Bennie was telling me about a
polygraph test he had just taken regarding the Lake Worth
bombing. I believe I asked him what that was all about. He said
that he and his friend, Mikey Huff, were suspects in a briefcase
bombing in Lake Worth. At this point, I'm all ears because I
hadn't heard about any bombing other than the Oklahoma City
bombing. Mr. Toole later said that he told me about it in 1990
when we first met. To this day, I don't remember him telling me
about it prior to June of 1997. Toole went on to tell me that "someone
had dropped a briefcase off on someone's porch in Lake Worth and
that it exploded killing the whole family." He didn't give me
any more details. It was all new to me. I hadn't heard about it
on the news or read about it.
The following month, I told a man named Charles Ferris
everything that Toole had told me. To make a very long story a
little shorter, on December 4th, 1997, I was indicted for
capital murder of multiple victims in regard to the bombing.
When the ATF agent and the Texas investigators served me with
the indictment, I told them the exact truth. I told them about
what Mr. Toole had told me and that I didn't know anything other
than what he told me.
At that point, I was in shock and couldn't believe what was
happening. I especially couldn't believe that I had been
indicted of something another man told me about. I didn't even
know where in Lake Worth the crime happened or that it happened
in 1985. They asked me where I was on November 28th, 1985. I
couldn't remember where I was 12 years prior. I wasn't even sure
if I was in the state of Texas or if I was still working in
Alaska. It took me a few days to put things together and get
over the shock of being indicted for capital murder and the fact
that I was facing the death penalty. I finally realized that I
had returned to Texas in October of 1984. I had to find a major
event in my memory that happened after I came to Texas and then
organize dates around that. I knew it was around Halloween when
I came back to Texas but I wasn't sure what year it was. I
remembered the Delta flight 191 crash at DFW airport. That stuck
in my mind because I was close by when it happened and it left a
serious imprint on my memory. I knew it happened in the summer
because it was really hot and it was my first summer back in
Texas. I did a little research and found out the crash happened
on August 5th, 1985 which meant I had come back to Texas in
October of 1984. That made it clear that I was in Texas when the
When I told the investigators that a man named Toole told me
about the bombing, it was obvious that they were surprised or
angered by that information. I think back on it now and I
believe they were surprised because of the fact that Toole had
been a suspect. I told the investigators that I was willing to
take a polygraph or whatever it took to prove I didn't know
anything about the bombing.
A few days later on a Friday evening about 9 p.m., they brought
Mr. Toole to the jail. When I saw him, I was happy and said, "Yes,
I told you I was telling the truth. That's the man that told me
about the bombing." Mr. Toole looked at me, shook his head yes
and said "Yeah that's him. I told him about it."
The following Monday evening, they took me to Dallas to a man
named John Lehmon's office. He was a forensic psychologist and
polygraph examiner. When we first got there, I met my attorney
and filled out a questionnaire that asked me about my health,
what medications I took and some other personal questions. After
that, my attorney and I went into another office and went over
the paper work that had to do with the test. It seemed like this
took about two hours. I know it was getting pretty late. We
waited for them to prepare the test.
Finally, they came and took me into another office where the
polygraph machine was. I sat down in the examining chair and Mr.
Lehmon said he'd be right back, walked out and shut the door
behind him. I sat there and looked around the room and realized
they were watching me on closed circuit television. The camera
was mounted in the corner. After about ten to fifteen minutes,
Mr. Lehmon came back in and sat down like we were about to start
the test. He said something like, "There's more to this then
what someone told you" and went on to tell me all about his
credentials and how he would get to the truth. I remember saying
"I'm counting on that and I'm ready to take the test." These
aren't exact quotes but they are close. The next thing he said
was something like "I believe you'd be a fascinating subject and
I would really like to get to know you but I'm sorry I can't
test you." He then got up and walked out of the room. I never
saw him again. The investigators told us they needed a doctor's
release before they could test me. I got the release the next
day but to this day, I've never been tested.
About 18 months later the trial started. During the eighteen
months before the trial, I had investigators and my attorney try
to locate my ex-wife, Kim, and my old friend, Chris Meeks. I
hadn't seen Kim since 1989 and I hadn't seen Chris since the
spring of 1986. I thought for sure if we could find them the
whole matter would be resolved. I thought they would tell the
truth and the whole nightmare would be over. Boy, was I ever
Kim and Chris were the State's star witnesses. They were the
entire case. Kim testified that when the ATF agents first
questioned her, she didn't know anything about the bombing and
just like me hadn't heard about it. She said, "Mike never
mentioned it and I don't know anything."
A few weeks after investigators questioned her, she went to the
public library and read all the old news stories about the
bombing. Kim said that while she was reading the newspapers she
realized that the bombing happened within a couple miles of a
place that we went fishing. She called the ATF back and told
them about going fishing at the nature center in Lake Worth. I
can't quote her exact trial testimony but it went something like
"On the night of Thanksgiving 1985, Mike and Chris came to my
apartment and we decided to go fishing. We all got in the truck
and went to Lake Worth. When we got there, we stopped at a
propane place and Mike got out and got a briefcase from under
the toolbox that was in the bed of the truck. He walked off with
the briefcase and came back without it. We then went down the
road into the nature center where we hung out for a few hours
until after midnight. Just before we left there was a splashing
noise in the water so Mike and Chris went and got their rifles
out and Mike shot a beaver, then we left."
Under cross-examination, she said that she didn't hear any
sirens, see any emergency vehicles or hear an explosion; nor did
she ever see a bomb. Why didn't she hear an explosion or hear
sirens, etc? I'll tell you exactly why not!
1. We didn't go fishing on Thanksgiving.
2. We didn't even leave her apartment on the night of
What else is wrong with her testimony?
1. I didn't have the truck on November 28th, 1985. I didn't get
it until December.
2. According to the National Weather Service, November 28th,
1985 was the coldest day of November. The high was 42 degrees
and the low was 31 degrees with winds up to 15 miles per hour.
3. The two rifles weren't purchased until December 18th and
December 19th, 1985, per ATF gun register records.
4. The toolbox that she said was on the truck was bought for my
birthday on December 29th, 1985, per check records.
At this point, it's pretty clear what I'm getting at but I will
explain anyway. We didn't go fishing on the night of
Thanksgiving. I don't know anyone that would. It's not even
possible for things to happen the way Kim said. We couldn't go
to the lake in a truck that didn't exist at the time. I couldn't
get a briefcase out from under a toolbox that was in the bed of
a truck that didn't yet exist and I sure couldn't shoot a beaver
with a gun that didn't exist yet. It just doesn't make sense for
anyone to "hang out" at the lake for hours in the middle of the
night when it's 30 some degrees.
We did go to Lake Worth Nature Center and go fishing one night
but it wasn't on Thanksgiving. How can I be so sure about
something that happened so long ago? It's simple. The records
prove I'm telling the truth. When we did go to the lake, it was
in the truck that we got in December. I did shoot a beaver with
the Ruger model 10/22 that was bought on December 19th, 1985. I
didn't know it was a beaver at the time. I thought it was a
muskrat or a nutria rat.
Chris Meeks' testimony was different from Kim's but it did
corroborate her testimony. They both committed perjury and got
an innocent man sentenced to death for a crime another man told
him about. Chris couldn't answer a single question without
looking to one of his three statements as if they were a script.
He didn't have any idea what was going on and he was scared to
death. Somehow he was forced to testify falsely. By whom, I'm
not positive but I have a good idea.
I was convicted of a crime another man told me about. I was
convicted solely by the lies of two people. Perjured testimony
got me sentenced to death.
If you're like most people, you're thinking why would someone
voluntarily lie and get an innocent man sentenced to death. This
is where I have to speculate on a few things. I have a few
different theories but one of them seems to prove more correct
than the others.
I think Kim talked to her boyfriend after the ATF interviewed
her and they went together to the library. I think they may have
even gone to the scene of the crime to put a story together. I
think the agents told her about the substantial reward and she
relayed that information to her boyfriend and he talked her into
lying for the reward. I'm speculating when I say that but that's
the only thing that makes sense. Some of the things she said
were absolute lies. For instance the briefcase. I didn't own a
briefcase until 1988 or 1989 and everything she said about
stopping at a propane place is a complete lie.
I've never in my life been to the place where this crime
happened. I didn't even find out exactly where it happened until
just before my trial. What really confuses me is why Chris Meeks
lied. I don't understand that at all. The only explanation is
that he just went along with whatever the investigators said.
The only way I can see that happening is if he was somehow
After the trial and after I was sentenced to death, Kim brought
my twelve year old daughter to the jail to see me. It was a very
intense emotional experience for me because I hadn't seen her in
ten years. I had tried everything to see her but couldn't ever
find her. The first thing Kim said to me during the visit was "I
don't love you anymore." I was thinking to myself, that's pretty
obvious. She then said, "I know you're not a murderer. I just
assumed you did it because they told me you were a suspect and
we went fishing at Lake Worth. I could be wrong about the date
we went to Lake Worth but there's nothing I can do about it now."
I think she justified what she did by the fact that I was such a
terrible husband. I was abusive and ran around all the time. I
was only 19 years old when we got married. I was way too young
to get married because I was so naïve and immature. I came from
a real small town and being in the city made me feel like I
needed to run around all the time.
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART.
Since the trial, my family and I have received numerous phone
calls and letters from people saying they know I'm innocent
because they know who did the bombing and why it was done. I
believe the fact that no one could ever determine the motive is
the reason they couldn't solve the crime. I've been in contact
with these people who wrote and called my family. They have told
me what the motive was, who did it and why the motive was never
determined. Yes, I have learned who the real murderers are but
they will remain free to commit more murders unless the
investigation is reopened. No one will listen to me because the
case has been closed. The case has been closed but the crime was
not solved. The people who committed this terrible crime live in
the Fort Worth area. As far as I am concerned, no one is safe
until the real murderers are brought to justice. I'm doing
everything I can to try to make that happen. The Blount family
deserves to know the truth and they deserve the real murderers
to be brought to justice.
I've never in my life been to the scene of this crime. I didn't
know the victims. I've never even seen a bomb. I told the exact
truth but it didn't make any difference. I'm only 34 years old.
In 1985, I would have been only 19 years old. When they first
accused me, I thought it was absolutely ludicrous. It defies
common sense. I believe the State and the ATF used me as a pawn
to close a case they couldn't solve.
Well, I'm not going to sit back and let them murder an innocent
man if I can help it. I will do everything I can to expose the
TRUTH and bring the true murderers of the Blount family to
justice, TRUE JUSTICE.
If there is anyone out there who cares enough to stop the murder
of an innocent man, help expose the TRUTH and bring the TRUE
murderers of the Blount family to justice, please join my
struggle and help me.
I am in a desperate situation. I'm SCARED beyond description. I
don't want to be put to death for a crime I knew nothing about.
Please help me. I may not be a perfect person but I'm not a
murderer. I've been in a lot of trouble since 1989 but nothing
like this. PLEASE HELP ME EXPOSE THE TRUTH.
Sincerely & respectfully,
Michael R. Toney
Michael "Cowboy" Toney
Rt. 6 Ellis #314
Huntsville, TX 77343