And so, on a summer day two years ago, the 55-year-old Sheboygan, Wis., man walked into his city's police department and told detectives what he believed: that his mother killed his baby sister five decades earlier.
Now Ruby Klokow, 74, stands charged with second-degree murder in the March 1, 1957, death of 7-month-old Jeaneen Marie Klokow. She is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon in Sheboygan County Circuit Court.
The charges, filed last week, came after two police detectives listened to James Klokow's suspicions and then dusted off the files from an original police investigation that declared the death an accident -– the girl's mother said the baby had fallen from a sofa and hit her head.
But this time, in an interview with police detectives, Ruby Klokow "stated she shouldn't have had any children, wished that she never had children, and knew she was 'mean' to them," according to the criminal complaint.
The charge of second-degree murder no longer even exists in Wisconsin. Klokow was charged based on the criminal statutes as written in 1957, police said in a news release. She faces up to 25 years in prison, if convicted. The charge is about the same as a reckless homicide charge today.
At an initial court appearance on Tuesday, Klokow was ordered held on a $10,000 cash bond. Dressed in a red jail jumpsuit, she repeatedly asked the court commissioner to explain what a preliminary hearing is and how to get a lawyer, according to the Sheboygan Press.
"I don't think it's going to make any difference if I have an attorney or not," she added, according to the newspaper.
At the time of Jeaneen's death, Klokow was an overwhelmed mother of four battling her own childhood trauma, she told the detectives in the initial interview last year, according to the criminal complaint.
After interviewing other family members and reviewing a detailed autopsy report of the death, the detectives decided last summer to exhume the remains of Jeaneen and another child, Scott Klokow, who was found dead in his crib in 1964.
A forensic pathologist discovered Jeaneen had three scalp bruises and two brain hemorrhages, which he said were consistent with abuse rather than an accidental fall, the criminal complaint said. The detectives then went back to interview Klokow again.
This time, they said, she admitted she was frustrated that both Jeaneen and James Jr. were crying at the same time, so she grabbed Jeaneen from her stroller and threw her toward the couch, the complaint said. The baby, she said, let out a "different kind of cry" and her eyes looked strange, according to the complaint.
"We have to recognize it was something that happened in 1957 ... and it wasn't intentional, although it was reckless," Sheboygan District Attorney Joe DeCecco told the Sheboygan Press.
"She had a lot of kids at a relatively young age, she wasn't happy in her marriage, there was a lot of drinking going on there and she had a temper."
The criminal complaint details a long list of other abuse against the children, including allegations that she broke James Jr.'s arm and nose in separate incidents, and injured his knees by kicking him with steel-toed boots on multiple occasions.
The complaint also says she made younger brother Bruce stand in a corner with a paper bag on his head at the age of 5 or 6 while she hit each of his toes with a hammer. And Ruby Klokow's mother and a sister both said they had seen Bruce bleeding from the face while sitting in his crib, according to the complaint, which notes that Bruce Klokow is mentally handicapped.
Although the statute of limitations has expired on the other abuse allegations, DeCecco said they were included in the complaint because the statute under which Klokow was charged requires prosecutors to prove she caused the death "through dangerous conduct, evincing a depraved mind."
No charges have been filed in Scott Klokow's death.
"She talked very freely about Jeaneen," DeCecco said, according to local news affiliate Fox 11. "She adamantly denied having anything to do with Scott."
Sheboygan police detective Paul Olsen, who investigated the case with detective Paul Hammann, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that James Klokow first came forward because he'd been watching television shows about solving old crimes and hoped that with the advancements in forensics "maybe something could be done."
But, Olsen added, it's a shame that no one either helped or prosecuted Ruby Klokow back in the late 1950s.
"It's a different world now," he told the newspaper.