Part 6 in a 6 part series on the aftermath of the Blake Litton murder
Since Jamie Litton was arrested and charged in the death of her three-year-old son, the Rev. John Wagner, pastor of First Christian Church in Versailles, has spent time visiting her in jail.
“It’s been very difficult,” Wagner said. “She’s lost a child. She’s grieving.
“For a long time she was in shock because the loss of a child that tears at her,” Wagner said “She knows she is facing very serious charges.”
Prosecutors charged Jamie Litton with second-degree murder and endangering the welfare of a child for failing to tell authorities about the true nature of her son’s injuries. Jamie Litton’s boyfriend, T.J. Presley, also faces the same charges in the beating death of Blake Litton, as well as the additional charge of abusing a child resulting in death.
“She’s still trying to understand what happened that night,” Wagner said. “She may never have those answers. That’s hard for a person, because you want to know why did this happen. She regrets her lack of involvement in trying to do something. I don’t think she understands why she didn’t do something, and I think that troubles her.”
Jamie Litton, who turned 26 in June, is being held at the Cole County Jail in Jefferson City. Presley is being held at the Pettis County Jail in Sedalia.
As a pastor, Wagner is one of the few visitors allowed to see Jamie Litton.
“She has been totally secluded from family and friends, because of the incarceration,” Wagner said of Jamie Litton. “She is turning to her faith, turning to the Scriptures to try and find answers for herself.”
Wagner has not visited Presley.
“I had met him a couple of times, briefly,” Wagner said. “I really didn’t know him.”
Wagner is close to Jamie Litton’s parents, Jim and LaVera Miller, who attend the church where Wagner is the pastor.
“They’re coping,” Wagner said. “It’s a struggle not only losing their grandson, but the possibility of losing their daughter. What’s holding them together is faith. That’s the only thing that really sustains them, I really believe. And family and friends are there to encourage them.”
Jim Miller had an opportunity to see his daughter and talk with her briefly following a court hearing in August at the Morgan County Courthouse in Versailles.
Jim Miller’s wife, LaVera, chose not to attend the hearing, because it would be too painful.
“She hasn’t gone to the court proceedings, and I don’t blame her,” Jim Miller said. “She just can’t deal with it.”
To avoid any further emotional pain, Jim Miller hopes his daughter’s case will not go to trial, where the alleged details of what happened the night Blake Litton died would be presented in court.
“It would be awful if it does,” Jim Miller said.
As a close friend of the Miller family, Wagner knew Jamie Litton when she was growing up. Her parents loved her and tried to raise her the right way. Which makes Blake Litton’s tragic death and Jamie Litton’s alleged involvement in her son’s death even more difficult to understand.
“As a pastor, I try not to treat people any different … though murder, I’m angry about. From a human standpoint, yeah, it tears me up,” Wagner said. “But you have to put those things aside to deal with people, because they need compassion, they need guidance, they need love. If they can’t get it from their pastor, I don’t know where they’re going to get it. As a minister, forgiving people, that’s part of my nature.
“On a daily basis, I deal with people who make mistakes, maybe not as severe as this one. Husbands or wives have an affair. Parents abuse children. Kids go out and make stupid choices. God calls us to love them. He’s the one who will judge, not us,” Wagner said. “God will punish sin, but he is also a God who is gracious and loving and, for our benefit, forgiving.”