STILLWATER, Minn. -- A farm equipment repairman accused of killing his daughter after she refused his sexual advances testified Wednesday he felt so guilty about abusing the girl that he concocted a murder confession.
'I knew I'd go to prison for the sexual abuse,' Rairdon said. 'The officers knew me well and persuaded me I was guilty of murder. I just had to figure it out so the deputies would buy it.'
Rairdon, 39, who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his daughter, is accused of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Sarah Ann, 13, who was last seen alive May 20, 1985.
'I was convinced that I had killed her. They (the officers) told me I had to give them the details and I thought I would have to make up a story good enough for them to believe,' Rairdon said.
When asked by defense attorney Daniel Eller why he admitted sexually abusing the girl, Rairdon said, 'I wanted to get it off my chest.'
Prosecutors contend Rairdon fatally stabbed his daughter with an awl after she refused his sexual advances, hid the body in an abandoned home and later the same night transported to where it was found in a pasture.
Rairdon also described to the jury the seven-week search he led for his missing daughter until her body was found July 6 about 25 miles from her Underwood, Minn., home where she was last seen.
Rairdon said his wife, Marilyn, told him he was 'a sick man' when she learned he had been abusing Sarah Ann but he said his wife forgave him.
'Marilyn said it was 'all Sarah's fault' and told me not to admit I killed her because, 'I don't think you did,'' Rairdon said.
The couple, who cared for 11 children, nine from previous marriages, are now divorced.
Jurors in Washington County District Court Tuesday watched a 32-minute video of Rairdon's confession to killing his daughter. He confessed to Underwood police but later said he did not recall the incident.
Prosecutor Michael Kirk has said Rairdon's confession is his main piece of evidence. Under Minnesota law, a confession by itself is not enough for conviction.
Rairdon said he has a mental block about the time between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. the night the teenager disappeared. 'I still see her in my mind walking along that road toward home,' he said.
Rairdon admitted sexually abusing Sarah Ann at least 60 times since she was 8-years old. Rairdon said she had begun to refuse him during the last two months of her life.