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Killer let out of prison for 1984 strangulation murder is back behind bars after molesting 8-year-old girl he babysat, claiming she ‘took advantage of him’

Clifford Eugene Cox

Clifford Eugene Cox (Left, in a Kansas DOC mugshot; Right, in a Sedgwick County Jail mugshot).

A convicted killer allowed parole for a 1984 strangulation murder went on to become a babysitter and molested an 8-year-old girl from 2016 to 2018. Shockingly, he blamed the victim, claiming she “took advantage of him.”

Clifford Eugene Cox, now 60, was sentenced Wednesday to serve 21 years for sexually abusing the child, following a March guilty plea to aggravated kidnapping and aggravated indecent solicitation of a child. If he lives long enough to see the outside of a prison again, Cox will been under lifetime post-release supervision, according to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.

After he was arrested in the case in August 2018 and questioned, Cox tried to blame the victim, calling her “flirtatious” and “sexually aggressive” while claiming she “took advantage of him,” The Wichita Eagle reported.

Kansas Department of Corrections records show that a warrant was issued in the child sexual abuse case against Cox on Aug. 20, 2018. Sedgwick County Jail records say Cox was booked that day and that he initially faced charges of rape, aggravated criminal sodomy, aggravated indecent liberties with a child, and conspiracy to commit aggravated indecent solicitation of a child.

Cox had been hired by the girl’s mother to babysit the victim and her siblings in Wichita. He molested the victim from 2016 to 2018, when at the age of 8 the girl told her father she was raped by the defendant.

The girl’s parents said they knew Cox by the name Ziggy and didn’t know about his disturbing past.

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“We didn’t even know his name, all my ex wife and I knew his name was Ziggy. My first reaction was like if it was a bad dream. I felt anger, disgust. I was racing in my head on only the 3-4 times I met him thinking were there signs? And when I thought about it more, the more I got lost in dispear [sic] in my own head,” the girl’s father reportedly said in 2018. “There are a million things even now I felt, including hopelessness because I couldn’t stop it. And my ex wife is in that same boat.”

State prison records show that Cox committed the crime of first-degree murder on May 6, 1984. He pleaded guilty and was convicted in September of the same year and remained incarcerated until Oct. 2, 2006, which is when he was paroled, records say.

Cox admittedly strangled and killed Cathryn Lynne Hutchins Kessinger, the 22-year-old wife of his co-defendant William Paul Kessinger. The husband, who offered Cox $1,000 to commit the crime, admittedly participated in the murder by holding Cathryn’s hands behind her back as his accomplice strangled her to death with a rope, KAKE reported.

William Kessinger, now 59, was paroled on Aug. 30, 2013, records say.

William Paul Kessinger

William Paul Kessinger appears in a 2013 mugshot (Kansas DOC)

Kessinger was sentenced for the murder on Sept. 21, 1984, the same day Cox was locked up for the crime.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.