CATCHING UP | JOSEPH FREY

Catching up: Life looking up for exonerated Joseph Frey

2013-10-14T06:30:00Z Catching up: Life looking up for exonerated Joseph FreyDEE J. HALL | Wisconsin State Journal | dhall@madison.com | 608-252-6132 madison.com

When he was released on July 12 after serving 20 years in prison — including eight years for a rape he didn’t commit — life looked bleak for Joseph Frey.

For a month, Frey, 54, was homeless, spending his nights at the Grace Episcopal Church shelter in Madison and his days trying to line up needed services.

Since then, Frey said he’s been overwhelmed with support. He retrieved $700 in prison earnings and got $2,000 from a foundation that gives money to the wrongfully convicted.

He gets food stamps from the government and free medications from St. Vincent de Paul for conditions including a degenerative bone disease. He has free health care through Our Lady of Hope clinic.

Frey also now has a room in a house near the Capitol Square, courtesy of Porchlight. Two independent filmmakers are working on a story about his efforts to prove his innocence and his life after prison.

It’s an astonishing story. An Oshkosh police detective destroyed the physical evidence and police reports prior to Frey’s 1994 trial for the rape of a UW-Oshkosh student.

Nearly two decades later, with the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, a scrap of bedsheet was found in a Winnebago County court file. DNA tests matched a now-deceased convicted sex offender, leading to Frey’s release.

A few weeks back, Frey had a life-altering encounter with a 28-year-old man after a United Way rally highlighting the work of the Madison-Area Urban Ministry, where he volunteers.

“There were people asking me questions afterward, and this one young gentleman looked a little choked up (and) started cryptically asking me about my family,” Frey said. “He told me then that, ‘I think you’re my uncle.’ He told me his name, and I said, ‘Yes, I think I am your uncle.’”

Frey said he is grateful to the Madison community and Innocence Project attorney Tricia Bushnell for helping him adjust to his new life, which he hopes will soon include a job.

”The community in my opinion has been extraordinary,” Frey said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be.”

Copyright 2015 madison.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

We provide a valuable forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on posted articles. But there are rules: Don't promote products or services, impersonate other site users, register multiple accounts, threaten or harass others, post vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language. Don't post content that defames or degrades anyone. Don't repost copyrighted material; link to it. In other words, stick to the topic and play nice. Report abuses by clicking the button. Users who break the rules will be banned from commenting. We no longer issue warnings.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Activate subscription button gif

What's hot

Vote! Today's poll

Loading…

Will you be attending any Madison Mallards games this summer?

View Results

Connect With Us