Stacy Kuykendall said she believed for over a decade her husband, Cameron Todd Willingham, didn’t deliberately start the house fire that killed their three daughters. That was until she spoke to him shortly before his execution.
“He admitted he did it and told me why,” she said. “I spent years not knowing, but Todd gave me that. He let me know the reason.”
Kuykendall is telling her story in her own words on the Sunday, Feb. 14 season premier of the series Evil Lives Here on the Investigation Discovery channel. She will also appear on the very first episode of Talking Evil, a new Evil Lives Here after show on the Discovery+ network.
Willingham was sentenced to death after being found guilty of setting the fire that took the lives of 2-year-old Amber Kuykendall and 1-year-old twins Karmon and Kameron Willingham two days before Christmas 1991 in their Corsicana home.
The adequacy of the arson evidence in Willingham’s high-profile trial was the subject of several critical investigations after the conviction.
Kuykendall said she rarely talked about the case until the 2018 film Trial By Fire made her look like a villain.
The movie is based on a 2009 New Yorker article of the same name which dramatizes the tragic and controversial story and makes a case against the death penalty.
“I never met the people who made the movie, no one ever contacted me, but I’m a main character and they made me into a horrible person,” she said.
Kuykendall said she felt obligated to tell her story from her point of view to prove to people she was not the character portrayed in the docudrama.
She also said she fears people will forget her daughters were the real victims.
“The film makes Todd out to be this innocent person. I won’t let my daughters be forgotten,” she said. “But when you get down to it, it’s not about Todd or my daughters, it’s about trying to abolish the death penalty. Thirty years later, they are trying to dismiss my daughters’ lives.”
Kuykendall said she kept a low profile during the debate over his execution but now she is speaking out, and she’s speaking loud.
"Todd murdered Amber, Karmon and Kameron." she said. "He admitted to me he burnt them, and he was executed for his crime. That is the closest to justice my daughters will ever get."