The dilemma of prosecuting Joe Clyde Daniels case without a body

DICKSON, Tenn. - Joe Clyde Daniels' father admitted to killing the 5-year-old, but search crews have not been able to find his body. It may seem like an open and shut case, but officials say a confession may not be enough.

Joseph and Krystal Daniels were charged in the case of their autistic, 5-year-old son who went missing. Joseph confessed to beating his son to death. He was charged with homicide and Krystal was later arrested and charged with aggravated child neglect or endangerment.

Crews in Dickson County, Tennessee vowed they wouldn't stop searching until the young boy was brought home and laid to rest.

A legal battle is looming especially since Joe Clyde Daniel's body still has not been found. It is a simple question sure to be asked by the public defender: without a body can prosecutors even prove that Joe Clyde Daniels is dead?

Yes, it's true his father Joseph Daniels is said to have confessed to beating the child to death, but without actually having a body it's not a done deal.

"Certainly it's a more difficult case if they have nothing to back up the confession," said attorney Jim Todd, who's closely followed the case.

He said there certainly could be other evidence, perhaps blood from the scene, cadaver dogs hitting on a scent or even witness testimony potentially from the child's mother.

"There's a good chance, and this is a guess, the wife is charged as a leverage point on her to get her to roll," said Todd.

But then there's this: Daniel's father says he believes prosecutors coerced the confession out of his son.  What happens if he recants his statement and insists he is innocent?

"The jury will hear the statement and determine on their own if he was coerced or gave this confession or not," said Todd.

That situation would only occur if the case goes to trial, and a trial is a long way off. Next up, a preliminary hearing for both parents on June 1.

That's when prosecutors will lay out much of their case. Much can change between now and then. 

The question is: will investigators have found the child's remains in time for the next hearing?

Their case could hinge on that development. Both parents remain held in the Dickson County Jail on $1 million bond each. 

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