ABC’s ’20/20: The Perfect Liar’ chronicles the story of jailhouse snitch Paul Skalnik, putting a special focus on how he helped in sending dozens of criminals to jail, including four to death row. He was one of the people who testified against James Dailey in court over three decades ago, in the murder case of teenager Shelly Boggio, telling the jury that James had described the killing to him in graphic detail.
However, as the episode makes it clear, James continues to maintain his innocence and fight for exoneration, to this date. All he wants is to clear his name for his family and gain back his freedom. So let’s find out exactly where James Dailey is now, shall we?
Who Is James Dailey?
After Shelly Boggio was found mutilated, stabbed, and drowned in the water of Indian Rocks Beach in Florida, on May 6, 1985, it was James Dailey and his then-roommate Jack Pearcy who were accused of her murder. It was reported that the two men were seen dancing with her in a bar the night before, after she, her twin sister, and a friend had been hitchhiking in St. Petersburg. Subsequently, all of them went to the men’s apartment, and while Shelly’s sister and friend left soon after, she stayed behind.
According to the prosecutors at their separate trials, James and Jack then drove the 14-year-old to a secluded area under the beach bridge, determined to rape her. But because she fought back, they, in an uncontrollable rage, killed her. “I just lost it,” James also apparently told a jailhouse informant. “No matter how many times I stabbed her, she would not shut up.” Jack Pearcy’s then-girlfriend was questioned about this case as well.
She admitted to the investigators that although her boyfriend and James were both not at home on the night of the murder, when they did return in the morning, it was only James who was soaking wet and shirtless. She also said that it was James who told them that they needed to leave the state immediately. Therefore, when the authorities decided to apprehend the two men, they found James in California and Jack in Kansas.
Both Jack and James were charged and arrested for first-degree murder and extradited to Florida to be brought to justice. When Jack was questioned about his role in Shelly’s death, he told the officers that he was just a bystander and that it was James who killed her, but he refused to testify against his former-roommate in court. Thus, even with only circumstantial evidence, in 1987, James was found guilty and sentenced to death.
Where Is James Dailey Now?
James Dailey has always maintained that he had no hand in Shelly’s slaying, and he continues to keep it up, with the argument being that it was Jack who committed the heinous crime while he was asleep at home. He and his legal team have filed for numerous appeals over time, his case has been tried twice, but even with that, his death penalty stands. The only reason why James is still alive and hasn’t been executed as of yet is because of these appeals and new evidence.
James’ defense team has also pointed out several flaws in the state’s case against him in the hopes of getting him some relief. They say that all the evidence is circumstantial; the case heavily relies on testimonies from three jailhouse informants who say that they only overheard James making incriminating remarks; and that Jack Pearcy’s story has shifted several times since their convictions.
In fact, in 2017, Jack signed an affidavit saying that he alone killed Shelly. And later, he claimed that James wasn’t even at the scene of the murder. But again, when the time came for him to testify in court, he backtracked. The Kansas native and Air Force veteran, who served three tours in Vietnam, only wants to prove his innocence. So much so that before his last stay of execution expired on December 30, 2019, he again appealed for a re-trial.
Although in the summer of 2020, a Florida judge denied it, claiming that there was no admissible evidence to warrant a new one, James still has hope as he has an appeal pending with the United States Supreme Court. Therefore, until something from the latter transpires, James, at the age of 74, will remain behind bars at the all-male Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida, on death row. (Featured Image Credit: ABC News / 20/20)
Read More: Where Is Jack Pearcy Now?