A Kansas prisoner who has been in jail for 17 years has been freed after researchers find his lookalike.

The Incident

A Kansas City prisoner, Richard Jones has been freed from jail and exonerated from his robbery charges after researchers found a lookalike of him, and witnesses couldn’t tell them apart. The lookalike of his also happened to share a first name as Jones. Jones described this as a “needle in a haystack moment.”

The lookalike was brought to Jones’ retrial, but he denied the accusations and submitted evidence. The judge ruled that there was no other evidence against Mr. Jones in order to keep him in jail. Since all that kept Jones in jail were eyewitness reports, and no physical evidence such as fingerprints or DNA, he was released.

Jones on His Release

Jones said he was beginning to believe he would never get out of jail, after several attempts to appeal against the charges brought against him.

“All my appeals had been denied. It has been a rough ride.” However, in 2015, Jones told the Innocence Project researchers in the Midwest, which focuses on exonerating convicted felons who had been wrongfully jailed, that there was a man named Ricky he heard looked exactly like him.

“When I saw the picture of my double it all made sense to me.” he said. The researchers then discovered that the man did indeed look exactly like him, but he also lived close to the crime scene. Lawyers who were on the case were reportedly “floored by how much” he looked like his double.

“I don’t believe in luck, I believe I was blessed.” he said. According to Kansas City Star, Jones is now fully adjusted to living as a free citizen and is happy to see and be with his children again.