DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — During a four-hour recorded interview, Joseph Daniels told investigators he fatally beat his son, Joe Clyde, after the five-year-old urinated on the floor of a bedroom, then disposed of his body in a rural area.
The confession was played Tuesday during day five of Joseph Daniels’ trial. It took place the night of April 6, 2018, two days after Joseph Daniels called 911 to report Joe Clyde, known as “Baby Joe,” had “escaped” from the family’s home on Garners Creek Road in Dickson County.
That video, which had some portions “redacted” at the direction of the prosecution and defense, ran for approximately two hours and 43 minutes.
The recorded interview with agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began just after 3 p.m. on the night of April 6, during which time Joseph Daniels advised that he had not been sleeping well and felt “hopeless” most of the previous day.
“I just want to hear, ‘hey, they found footsteps… just something to let us know he’s still out there,'” Joseph Daniels told the TBI, adding “I just feel, I’m sad.”
Over the next several hours, the TBI agents interrogated Joseph Daniels and told him to “tell us the truth.” He explained, “I’ve been honest to everybody as much as possible.”
Joseph Daniels insisted that he “did not touch Joe,” as the interview with agents continued around 5:40 p.m.
“I need to know what you did and where you put him?” one TBI agent asked.
“Are you suggesting that I killed my son?” he asked the agent. “I didn’t hurt him. I love my boy so much that I wouldn’t do anything.”
Joseph Daniels later explained, “That night that I got up, I was pissed. I got out of the bed, followed Alex into the bedroom. I saw Baby Joe. He was laughing. He had peed on the floor. I was not happy about that. I didn’t spank him. I looked at him, and then I looked at Alex, and I said ‘both your [expletive] get back into bed now.’ I left the bedroom. I went back to bed.”
At one point during the interrogation, he told investigators, “When I get angry, there’s stuff that happens that I don’t remember.”
As the questioning continued, an agent asked, “You did more than spank him, didn’t you?” to which Joseph Daniels answered, “Yes.”
“How many times did you hit him in the head?” the agent later asked Joseph Daniels, who responded, “A couple times. He was crying. I was just so angry with him.”
Joseph Daniels eventually admitted to the agents that he had thrown Joe Clyde on the floor and on the coffee table and beat him with a “closed-fist.”
AGENT: “How many times did you hit him in the head?”
DANIELS: “A couple times.”
AGENT: “Couple times? It was a little more than a couple wasn’t it?”
AGENT: “How many times was it?”
DANIELS: “Several. Several times.”
As the video continued, Joseph Daniels told the TBI agents that he took the body of his five-year-old son to a rural area, where he disposed of the child.
AGENT: “Where was he bleeding from?”
DANIELS: “His legs.”
AGENT: “He was bleeding from his legs? From what?”
DANIELS: “From me beating him. From landing on the table.”
AGENT: “Did he have any bruises to his face?”
AGENT: “Bleeding from his face?”
Through tears, Joseph Daniels told the TBI agent, “My dad is going to kill me. He is going to kill me. Don’t take me home. I don’t want to see him. Take me to a hospital.”
TBI Agent Joey Boyd, who was one of the investigators who interviewed Joseph Daniels, read a statement from the following day, April 7, that had been signed and dated by Joseph Daniels:
“That night, I got into my car and drove down Mc Elhiney Road, and I got Baby Joe out of the trunk. I had my wife’s cell phone in my left hand, using it as a flashlight. And Baby Joe was over my right shoulder… Earlier that night, I got woken up by Alex, who told me that baby Joe had peed on the floor. I went in and told them to get their [expletive] in the bed. Baby Joe started laughing. So I beat him. That’s when he ran out the front door. Baby Joe ran to the road. I saw a car drive by and then I ran out and got him back in the house. I beat him some more. That’s when I killed Baby Joe. I beat him with a closed fist and put his body in the trunk of my car, the red Chevrolet Impala. I went back in to grab a cell phone and got my wife’s phone. I took that phone with me when I took Baby Joe out to dump his body. I lied to you previously about where I placed Baby Joe’s body. Earlier I told you it was in a field. And I showed you on the map where the field was along Mc Elhiney Road where it turns into a dirt road. I’m now telling you the truth about that part. I placed Baby Joe’s body in the pond right there on the right side of the dirt road where the road curves right there in the area I showed you on the map. I placed Baby Joe wearing his pajamas in the pond right there.”
Jake Lockert, the public defender representing Joseph Daniels, has argued the confession was coerced. Despite that, Dickson County Circuit Court Judge David Wolfe ruled it could be used as evidence at the trial.
The trial, which started last Thursday afternoon, is scheduled to last for approximately two weeks.
The jury was chosen from a pool of people in Chattanooga, all of which the judge said had never heard the name “Baby Joe.” That jury consists of 12 jurors and four alternates, made up of ten women and six men.
Joseph Daniels faces five charges, including first-degree murder and evidence tampering. He was jailed in Nashville, but has been moved to the Dickson County jail during the duration of his trial.
His wife, Krystal Daniels witnessed the fatal beating, but went to bed instead of helping her son, according to investigators. She is charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect and will be tried separately from her husband.