ST. LOUIS – They spent years behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit. Two former prisoners spoke with Fox 2 about surviving the pandemic and coping with feelings you may have about the walls closing in.
Russ Faria and Josh Kezer both served prison time for crimes they did not commit. They both offered their unique perspectives to help you keep your sanity during this time of social isolation.
We first interviewed Kezer more than a decade ago before his murder conviction in Scott County was overturned. He spent 16 years behind bars. Today, he lives in Columbia, Missouri.
“All people know is their fear. The thing that I want to communicate to them is that through all my experience of being incarcerated as a young man—I was incarcerated at 18 years old—I was immediately caged with violent offenders who wanted to physically harm me and one thing is consistent about how I got through each of those instances, each of those attacks,” Kezer said. “Fear never helped me. At no point did feeling afraid, being afraid, reacting afraid ever assist me in any of those situations.”
“Faith in Christ helped me every time. Peace of mind helped me every time. Reacting never helped. Responding thoughtfully helped.”
Kezer says today’s isolation does not remind him of prison. He finds connection with Titan, his pit bull rescue dog.
“When I rescued him from the Humane Society, I felt like I was bringing him from prison into his castle and I wanted him to feel free,” he said.
Russ Faria was locked up for three and a half years while prosecutors at the time ignored evidence that Pam Hupp could’ve been a killer.
“If you want to feel like that (prison) lockdown, you’d have to go in your bathroom,” he said. “Take somebody else in there with you that you know—maybe a perfect stranger or someone you might not like or might not like the way they smell or act—and you guys spend all of your time locked in there with them all day every day. We only got out for an hour a day.”
Faria finds peace working on motorcycles.
“It keeps my sanity for me and we’re keeping a lot of other people’s sanity you know because motorcycles are a good therapy for people,” he said. “People that own them know that they call it two-wheel therapy or wind therapy. So, you know we’re keeping people sane by keeping their motorcycles going for them.”
Faria said the cliché about stopping to smell the flowers is true. He does it.
“I was asked why I did that and I said, ‘Sometimes you might be in a place where you don’t get to see flowers or smell flowers’ and so when you do get to see them you appreciate it a lot more,” he said.
Kezer and Faria sent some pictures of what helps them remember their freedom during this time of social isolation.
Josh Kezer said he saw this 2009 Fox Files report on his release for the first time on Thursday. Here’s what he said on his Facebook page, followed by our 11-year-old report.