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Joel Thetford Band’s ‘The Truth’ sums up a three-year family nightmare

December 12, 2019
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Maine-based singer and songwriter Joel Thetford has released three albums of original material since 2015, but says his muse took a hiatus for nearly a year when his family became embroiled in a shocking legal case that made headlines around the world.

The case itself is currently in the delicate appellate stage but it’s one that Thetford says he’s positive his family will win.

A television network that is available in 70 million homes in the U.S. and Canada has spent the last two years working on a documentary about this case that Thetford believes will finally reveal the truth about what his family has endured during this prolonged nightmare.

“My sister is in prison for a crime that she is 100 percent innocent of committing,” Thetford told The Maine Edge, before adding “we’re talking about one of the worst stories of corruption you’ll ever hear.”

A Texas native, Thetford has lived in Maine for nearly 15 years. A former bull-rider weaned on old school country icons like Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard and George Strait, Thetford strives to keep his music just as sincere. His new single, “The Truth,” has broken Thetford’s near yearlong writer’s block and it’s a stunner.

“My father isn’t one to cry, but when he dropped me off at the airport after my sister’s trial, he said ‘write a song for her.’ This whole thing has been so traumatic, I couldn’t write anything until this song came to me,” Thetford said of the song.

“What are you gonna do?” Thetford asks three times in the song’s chorus before resolving with “when the people know the truth.” Guitars, bass, drums and pedal steel guitar augment Thetford’s vocals until the halfway point when strings enter the soundstage, lending a majestic quality, and a choir of backing vocals bring the song home before concluding on a major chord of hopefulness.  

“The DA’s lying, the jury’s sleeping, the judge he don’t give a damn,” Thetford sings in the song’s second verse.

“The Truth” tells the story of how money, lies, and corruption intertwined to separate a mother from her child and put an innocent woman behind bars.

“It’s a very personal song but I tried to keep it ambiguous and relatable to other people and not too specific to my family situation,” Thetford told me.

Thetford says his nephew, now a teenager, was born prematurely, and has experienced a cornucopia of related medical issues. After performing multiple surgeries on the boy, doctors told Thetford’s sister that nothing more could be done and that she should prepare for him to die.

The boy was admitted to the hospital for end of life hospice care and was assigned a nurse that had never performed hospice duties.

Thetford’s sister raised concerns about the care her child was receiving and made the choice to have him taken to a different hospital. When an ambulance arrived to take him there, the original hospice nurse notified CPS (Child Protective Services) and had the child taken away from his mother.

“It’s called medical kidnapping and it’s more common than most people realize,” Thetford says. “The hospice nurse told CPS that my sister was starving my nephew, which was totally false.”

Later, CPS admitted they were wrong, according to Thetford, and acknowledged that they illegally removed the boy from his mother’s guardianship. CPS and a county judge dropped the charges.

After the boy had been home with his mother for nearly a year, the original hospice nurse who had called CPS went to a different judge in a different county. The district attorney’s office there decided to charge Thetford’s sister with attempted murder.

This time, there was a trial and it went on even longer than the 11-month long O.J. Simpson trial, Thetford says.

When the jury returned to the judge multiple times without a verdict, the judge issued the dynamite charge, telling them to deliberate until they reached consensus. After they returned with a guilty verdict, the judge issued a 5-year prison term.

In Maine, the case probably would have been declared a mistrial, Thetford says. Instead, his sister is sitting in prison waiting for her appeal case to be resolved. Meanwhile, her teenage son – no longer in hospice care – is doing much better.

There is much more to this story that will be seen and heard in the network documentary, which Thetford says will air in January or February 2020.

As this case has been so prominent in Texas, and was ultimately picked up by mass media around the world, including The New York Times, I asked Thetford if the story had been reported factually.

“It’s been misreported all over the world by outlets that all used the same source – a writer who happens to be a good friend to the DA’s office,” he said. “They even published photos of my nephew. I feel very confident that we will win the appeals process and the truth will win in the end.”

“The Truth” by the Joel Thetford Band was produced by Ryan Ordway at A Day In This Life studios in Falmouth. It is available now on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and all major digital outlets.

Last modified on Thursday, 12 December 2019 06:33

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