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Murder of Joseph Clifton by Richard Gordon investigated on Fear Thy Neighbor

Mugshot of Richard Gordon
Richard Gordon was sentenced to life for murdering neighbor Joseph Clifton. Pic credit: Arkansas Dept. of Corrections

This week, Fear Thy Neighbor travels to the rural Fulton County in Arkansas to investigate a dispute that ended in murder when Richard Gordon shot dead Joseph Clifton in 2009.

Clifton and Gordon were neighbors who had been in dispute over land for some time; unfortunately, their disagreement turned violent on September 3, 2009, when Gordon decided to kill his neighbor.

Clifton was in the cab of his truck on a trail when he was stopped by Gordon, who pulled out a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol and shot him three times; he died almost immediately. Clifton’s 2-year-old son was sat in the truck, strapped into a safety seat, but thankfully, he was unharmed.

The police retrieved plenty of evidence to place Gordon at the crime scene; investigators found tractor tire marks and numerous shoe prints at the scene that matched to the killer.

After the murder, Gordon went home to his wife and confessed to her that he had committed murder. He told her that he had killed Clifton “graveyard dead” and that his victim had begged him not to shoot.

Richard Gordon tried to claim self-defense in Joseph Clifton murder

His wife’s testimony would later become crucial in obtaining a conviction for premeditated murder because Gordon tried to evade justice by claiming self-defense.

Clifton had had a .270-caliber rifle in his truck, which allowed Gordon to claim that he had defended himself when Clifton “brought the rifle up.” Gordon claimed he’d no opportunity to retreat and was forced to fire.

However, witnesses, who’d arrived at the scene shortly after the incident, disputed this version of events; they said Clifton’s rifle was held down in its usual spot between the seat and the central console.

Gordon was put on trial in the Fulton County Circuit Court in September 2010, but that ended with a deadlocked jury. A second trial a month later ended in a mistrial, when it was decided that Gordon would be unable to get a fair trial in Fulton County as the citizens were too prejudiced against him.

A third trial was moved to Stone County, AR, and ended with Gordon’s conviction for first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 15 years.

More from Fear Thy Neighbor

Follow the links to read about more feuding neighbors that resulted in violence.

James Dellavecchia lay in wait for his neighbor, Scott Robbins, and when he appeared, he shot him dead; he also wounded Robbins’s stepdaughter Kirsten Snow and fired shots at his coworker.

Robert ‘Chad’ Bridges had gotten into a boundary dispute with his neighbors Myla and Jeff Oaks in Cleveland County, New Jersey. One day, an argument escalated to the point where Bridges fired at his two neighbors, killing Myla and wounding Jeff.

Fear Thy Neighbor airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

Jerry Brown


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