Maddie Clifton


Maddie Clifton was a little girl. Born on June 17, 1990, in Jacksonville, Florida.

Joshua Earl Patrick Phillips was born on  March 17, 1984,

is an American who was convicted of murder as a child. In November 1998, when he was 14 years old, Phillips killed Maddie Clifton, his 8-year-old friend. Phillips and Maddie were neighbors.

In November 1998, Phillips was 14 years old and living with his family in Jacksonville, Florida. Neighbors described Phillips as “quiet and friendly”. According to Maddie Clifton’s mother, Phillips and her daughter were friends and she never had any reason to be afraid of him.

Phillips panicked, knowing his father Steve would be home soon and fearing his reaction. Phillips dragged Clifton into his house, saying that the clothing came off Clifton’s lower body as he did so. He hit her with the baseball bat to stop her from screaming before putting her under the base of his bed. When Steve returned home, Phillips interacted with him for a period of time before returning to his room. When Phillips discovered that Clifton was still alive and moaning under his bed, he removed the mattress, cut her throat, and stabbed her in the chest seven times with the knife from a Leatherman tool, killing her.

Police and volunteers searched for Clifton for six days; Phillips participated in the search. He later stated he spent the following week living in denial, saying, “I was putting myself in a fantasy world that nothing had happened. 

On November 10, Melissa Phillips went into her son’s room and noticed a wet spot on the floor. She searched the room and found Clifton’s body, immediately leaving the house to report the incident to the police.

Phillps Life in prison

Phillips completed his General Educational Development in prison, although he was initially

told he was too young to do it, and later took college classes by correspondence.

Phillips works as a paralegal in prison, assisting other inmates with their appeals, and also works as a tutor for inmates. He also plays guitar in a band and participates in Christian religious services, zazen, and yoga.  During his 2017 appeal, the prosecution acknowledged that Phillips had been a model prisoner. As of 2008, Phillips declined to write a letter of apology to Clifton’s family, saying they deserved an apology from him in person, as they would not be able to see his sincerity in a letter. Clifton’s mother subsequently stated she had no interest in talking to Phillips.


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