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The Starved Rock Murders /// Part 1 /// 736

2024-02-13 | 🔗

The Starved Rock Murders /// Part 1 /// 736

Part 1 of 3


In 1960 three women were brutally beaten to death in the canyon of a state park in Illinois.  The Starved Rock state park was a travel destination for many.  After the murders the park became the stuff of nightmares for many.  The name Starved Rock is equally as intriguing as the homicide case itself.  It hints at both mystery and violence.  This week in the Garage we take a trip back to 1960 to discuss a case that is still making headlines today.  This was both cold blooded murder and evil so cold in the frigid snowy St. Louis canyon of the Illinois State Park. 

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The business. Alright everybody, gather around, grab a chair, grab a beer, let's talk some true crime. At Starved Rock State Park were quickly dubbed the Crime of the Century by locals. Three innocent. Prominent women were corralled and murdered in a state park in Illinois. The murders were horrifying. The news was national and portions of the park were closed. The murders had to be the work of a sex-crazed maniac, and thus an arrest should have been done.
Be imminent, but the triple homicide investigation was a complicated one. To make an arrest was going to be a slow and tedious process. A clue? were convoluted. The suspects all seemed to know one another, and the lack of of a good eyewitness was surprising. The ones that got it right from the beginning were those local folks who called the search Starved Rock murders the crime of the century because while several other cases have been the same, this case, just like those other ones, is still heavily discussed and debated to this very day. This is
is True Crime Garage and this is the Starved Rock Murders. The Starved Rock State Park is a gorgeous state park located in LaSalle County, Illinois. The park is characterized by Bye bye.
And we should note that the park has grown considerably over those decades. So back in 1960, not quite 2,600 acres, but still a very large state park. We will be discussing the St. Louis Canyon that is inside of the park. Beautiful park specifically in these episodes. The park is situated along the south bank of the Illinois River. LaSalle County location think central north Illinois. So this is about an hour and 40 minute drive west of Chicago. Starved Rock gets over 2 million visitors annually and this is the most visited state Illinois, the land of Lincoln, also known as the Prairie State. We made a video about the new version of the app called The Game which is a game that is available on the Xbox 360.
The many canyons, these are exposed rock canyons. The park is also known for its unique, especially to this area of the country, its unique topography. And unfortunately the park is also known for its violent history. That's right, tragedy is an old story to starved Rock State Park. The park is steeped in American Indian lore and takes its name from a legend over 250 years old. Now according to that legend, a band of Illinois Indians was forced to the top of a huge rock by the According to that legend, a band of Illinois Indians was forced to the top of a huge rock by the
Some Ottawa Braves. This is way back in 1767 and the Illinois Indians starved there. Ever since then the spot was known as Starved Rock. Legend also says that Starved Rock was the place where an American Indian princess and her lover, Beelix, were attacked by an unfriendly tribe. When the warriors killed Beelix and threatened to take the princess captive, she jumped 140 feet to her death into the Illinois River. The Starved Rock murders is just one of the most infamous homicide cases in the state's history. That along with the Hendricks Family murders, the Lane Bryant shootings, and serial killer John Wayne Gacy amongst others. All of those true crimes.
Stories have been covered here on True Crime Garage. So no stranger to tragedy, Starved Rock State Park, where three prominent Chicago area women were found murdered on Wednesday, March 16, 1960. In the late 19th century, parkland around Starved Rock was developed as a vacation resort. The resort was later acquired by the state in 1911.
Or a state park, which of course it remains today. The area around the rock was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960, which is oddly enough the same year as the murders that we will be discussing in the garage. So now captain, we go back in time to 1960 and we will start our timeline off on Monday, March 14th, 1960. We have three women, three very good friends. This is Frances Murphy, she is 47 years old. Lindquist, she's 50 and Lillianne Oding, who is 50 as well. These friends are the wives of three prominent Chicago area businessmen.
Also referred to as the three riverside matrons. All were mothers and two of them were grandmothers. The three friends are going to the Starved Rock Lodge for a four-day trip to Starved Rock State Park. The three we're looking forward to hiking. The many trails, sightseeing, they were interested in bird watching and photography. Now keep in mind March in the northern part of Illinois. So when they get the star of rock, there's a decent amount of snow on the ground. Mrs. Francis Murphy, Mrs. Mildred Lindquist and Mrs. Lily and Oding, the three had driven the 90 miles from Chicago to the picturesque Starved Rock the morning of Monday, March 14th.
In time for lunch. The lodge has a dining area so they checked into their rooms and then sat down together for lunch. After eating they put on their hiking clothes and went for a long walk in the snow and as the story goes they are never seen alive again. Dive a little bit more into the background here. - Yes, and this is a very important part of this true crime story. Lillian Oding, her husband, George, had had some health complications. Once before the trip, Lillian had watched over her husband, George, who had suffered a heart attack. And from my understanding, captain, this would be about four months before their trip. Mildred and Francis believed that Lillian deserved some rest and relaxation to get away for a little bit.
But before Lillian left George's side, these are very dedicated husband and wife here, she's been caring for him for months now. Now, she made her husband promise to her, look, while I'm gone, you've got to take it easy. You got to take care of yourself. And you have to promise me to answer the phone because I'm going to be calling you regularly In making sure that all is well with you and all is well with the house. Yeah, it makes sense. George agrees. She's been a great wife taking care of him. Now, unfortunately, when the call didn't come in, George decides he's going to reach out to her. So he calls the lodge Asked for his wife's room. So the switchboard operator attempts to connect him with his wife, but there's no answer in her.
Room. Tuesday evening, George still hadn't heard from his wife. So he makes additional attempts and still no one picked the... The ringing phone in room 109 where she was staying. The desk clerk on duty told George that he was welcome to leave a note and that they would pass it to his wife when they saw her or when she checked in with the desk. The message George left was very simple. It just said, Please call home immediately. Now, early on the morning of Wednesday, March 16th, George tried and failed. Once again to reach his wife via phone. So around 6 45 a.m captain George's brother his name is Herman he's going to get involved he's trying to call as well and he's having no luck by phone getting a hold of his his sister-in-law. So now he asked the desk clerk could you go and check
Check Lillian's room and knock on the door for the other rooms as well to check with the ladies. It was then that the clerk reported back to Herman that said, Look, I'm going to We knocked on the door, no answers. We went in, the beds in the rooms appeared to still be neatly made, almost as they haven't been slept in at all. Right. And the ladies' bags remained inside the rooms, unpacked. Now, before we get too far into the story, there's a lot of. Different source material out there. There's a lot of great reporting. There's a lot of interesting speculation in this true crime story. There's a lot of controversy here too, and you will see. As we go through the story if you're not familiar with the Starved Rock murders. But several of the sources will state that some items were in fact, actually
Unpacked. So there's a little bit of a debate on the ladies bags were untouched, unpacked, found in their rooms. But to be perfectly clear, the thing that is not debated is that the bags were found in in mostly the items that they brought with them were still in their luggage. When the rooms were checked days after their arrival. Getting this information, Herman then tells the desk clerk, Could you go? to or send someone to check the parking lot, right? There should be a station wagon in the parking lot. The ladies traveled together in one of their vehicles, did a little carpool.
You should find a station wagon in the parking lot with a license plate that carried a Riverside sticker there from Riverside, which is a suburb of Chicago. I don't know what news they were hoping to hear, but what they are told is yes, in fact, we do have a vehicle matching that description. With a Riverside sticker, and it's parked in a spot near the main lodge entrance. This would be not what they want to hear because you would hope that maybe they're out somewhere together in the vehicle traveling about and that's why no one's been able to connect with one of the ladies and now what is not quite 48 hours but almost two days. Attempts. So this is when Herman calls Francis's husband, one of the other ladies. His name is Robert Murphy. He then calls Mildred's husband as well, Robert Lindquist. They too confirm that they have not heard from their wives since they left for the trip.
Now, Mr. Murphy contacted LaSalle County Sheriff Ray Utze to report the women missing. The chief of the Illinois State Police was called in to assist as well. So now they're reported missing by both the county sheriff and to the Illinois State Police as well. And they're gonna have to organize a search or start looking for these ladies. There's no reason why these men shouldn't be able to get in contact with one or all three of these ladies. - Yeah, this is gonna be a pretty big search because the park is pretty large. So late Wednesday morning, parties of state and local police and volunteers. Fanned out across starved rock. By that time a severe winter storm had moved into the region dumping several inches of snow that will most certainly add to the challenge of people
Trekking through the area. This is rugged terrain at parts of the park looking for these ladies. The vehicle is there. You would make the easiest that you should be able to find them somewhere in the park having found their vehicle in the parking lot. Despite the inclement weather and the amount of area to search and the rugged terrain, it only takes about 90 minutes for a volunteer group of boys from a forestry camp for juvenile offenders to come upon the battered, bloodied bodies of all three women. They are... In a shallow cave within that St. Louis Canyon, one of the park's most scenic locations. It was shocking to me looking into this case that you can actually, that there's actual crime scene photos available. I agree, Cam.
They are very shocking and hard to comprehend what you are seeing there. We may have had an eyewitness or two that spotted the ladies and we will get into each detail as we go. But first captain, I have a general overview of the crimes and the crime scene as reported in the newspaper later that week. I want to preface by offering up a caveat. We are not saying that everything in this newspaper report is absolute fact. For those familiar with this case, regardless of which camp you are in, I think the reasonable folks will agree that there is much to debate in this case, but this is a good overview as presented by the Galesburg Register Mail newsletter.
Paper. This is from that Thursday. Plus, I love how a lot of these 1960s journalists would present the stories of the day or in this case the week. Mind you, we often hear and see in print the words the crime of the century. Case two received that label many times over in the great state of Illinois, especially in 1960 and 61. So then the question starts becoming, is this one murderer? Is this two murderers? Is this a group of people? - And how could this happen? - Yeah, how could this happen in a state park?
Into these individuals. I think it just puts everybody, because of the brutality of the crime. It puts everybody on high alert. We've seen this in other cases. The one that comes to mind is the Phantom Killer. When those crimes happen, it's like the whole town shut down. Overview off with the reminder of an important detail. It is regarded by most. As fact that the three women were last seen on Monday, March 14, 1960. This is just after lunch time. There is snow on the ground before the ladies arrive at Starved Rock. The day after they are believed to have been last seen on Tuesday, March 15th, the area With, we said earlier, inches of snow. Some reports say close to a foot of snow. The bodies were not discovered until Wednesday, March 16th. And the article that we will be referencing here.
Was in the newspaper the following day, March 17th. So skipping the headline, the article reads in part, Police burned through a heavy layer of snow with flamethrowers in search of clues to the sex murders of three matrons whose bodies were found half nude in a cave. Authorities said more than one sex maniac probably was involved in the murder.
Than the murders, but they said they had no suspects and few clues. The women, all neighbors of a fashionable Chicago suburb and wives of prominent executives, met death while on a hiking expedition at rugged, starved Rock State Park. The bodies were found in pools of frozen blood, their clothing torn, and their skirts pulled over their heads. It was a sex crime, the most horrible I've seen in my 19 years as a policeman, said Police Superintendent William H. Morse. Morse said the only clues police had were a three-
a 30-foot long log, a pair of broken binoculars, and a dented camera. All were found in or near the cave and covered with blood. The log was regarded as the murder weapon. The camera and binoculars might have been damaged when the women made a desperate effort to defend themselves. Moore said police would try to find other clues by using improvised flamethrowers to melt the snow on the canyon floor around the cave. We don't know what we'll find.
But something has to give, Morris said. Officials said the women apparently were waylaid while they hiked through the woods. Despite a fierce struggle, they were dragged into the cave, either alive or dead. An autopsy conducted disclosed all the women had been raped and died of fractured skulls. Police theorized sex killers followed the women into a box canyon and trap them there. Is at the far end of the park, a mile from the lodge, and had only one entrance. The killers apparently used the club and an icicle to attack the women. The bodies were dragged through the snow to a sand cave in a cliff five feet above the canyon floor.
The bodies appear to have been deliberately arranged in line at the mouth of the cave. When the women did not call home as expected Tuesday night, the husbands raised the alarm and a search was organized. Five boys from a nearby camp for problem adolescence found The cave was only a few yards away from a frozen waterfall, which the women apparently walked out to admire. The three Riverside matrons whose bludgeoned bodies were found in Starved Rock State Park had much more in common than death. They were as friends and members knew pillars of their community devoted to home, church, and civil affairs. They are already deeply missed by many in this grief-stricken community. They were, said a sorrowed friend, exceptionally happy women and happy companions. Probably their most common bond was faith.
There's a lot of information in that article and a lot of really startling and disturbing depictions of the crime scene and what the victims may have endured during the commission of these crimes. One thing we need to cycle back to is the statement that autopsies were conducted and it was confirmed that all three victims had been raped or sexually assaulted. That would make some sense given how the victims were found. Now, it's a little bit of an embellishment to say that the skirts were pulled up over their heads. Captain, you've seen the pictures, I've seen the pictures, we've reviewed a lot of different source material on this case. That's an embellishment. The skirts were pulled up.
Cold it was and with the snow, frankly, I'm a little surprised that they were out there hiking in skirts to begin with. But nonetheless, that is the situation. So the lower half, halves of the women were exposed, whether that was done to assault The women or to shock whoever may end up finding them, we can't say. But what I can say is the rape and sexual assault angle of this has been heavily debated over the decades in this case because the other factor here is that the motive for these murders has been heavily debated as well. There are, there is source material out there like this one that says yes, the victims were raped, their source of that says maybe one victim was actually sexually assaulted. And then there are other materials that say there was no sexual assault at all, that they were just displayed, that they were just possessed.
In this way for whatever reason. Later, law enforcement is going to say the motivation was different. I think. You're you hit the nail on the head when you start questioning the idea of where they out there to hike where They were found compared to where the lodge was. It was a very long distance. Eyewitnesses that saw them at other parts of the park before they went missing.
So I think you can even question, were they out there on their own accord or were they taken out there by somebody? - Yes, and that is one angle of the investigation that I think we're going to be able to clear up as we go through. Now, the victims, we have Mrs. Mildred Lindquist, age 50, Mrs. Lillian Oding, age 50, and Mrs. Frances Murphy, she's 47. All attended and were prominent in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church of Riverside. So they all attended the same church. And I believe there is a plaque that is there to this day in that church and memorial of these three women and their involvement with this church. Mrs. Murphy's husband, Robert, he's the vice president and general counsel for Borg Warner Corporation. Mrs. Murphy was an avid
Rose Grower, once the editor of the Moline Dispatch and served on the grade school board. She was the mother of four children. Mrs. Oding belonged to the Riverside Garden Club. She enjoyed Shakespeare. She was the mother of three children. Her husband is George. He is George Oding, the general supervisor of internal audits for Illinois Bell Telephone Company. A shocked neighbor said Mrs. Oding is one of the kindest, most compassionate persons I've ever known. Mrs. Lindquist, mother of two daughters, was a member of the Riverside grade school board of education. She was a past president of the Riverside Friends of the Library program, and a stunned friend said, quote, she had a marvelous personality. Her husband, Robert Lindquist, is the vice president of the Harris School of Education.
Trust and Savings Bank in Chicago. So when we say prominent members of the community of this Riverside community, and we give it a little background of things that they were involved with and their husband's occupations. We can see obviously that they are labeled properly here as prominent members of the community and their husbands have these important jobs and remarkable. Careers. Now a little more detail here would be that the three arrived from Riverside. This would be about a 90 mile northeast travel to Starved Rock Park. On Monday the 14th, after checking into the lodge, the three took an afternoon hike to St. Louis Canyon. And as the captain points out... I don't know for certain if that was that location where they were eventually found was their intention or if somebody else took them there or derived them.
I expected them there for nefarious reasons or innocent, you know, totally innocent reasons. You should make sure you check out the frozen waterfall over at St. Louis. Right. But we do know they never return after this. And as the captain pointed out to the canyon is approximately a mile from the lodge where they were staying. One key part to this case, I believe, and we'll see this time and time again, as we go through the details is if one Were to take the trail to the St. Louis Canyon, there's but one way in and one way out to this canyon. It would seem based off of the phone calls from one of the the husbands and then him alerting the other husbands that the disappearances of three ladies, three guests at the lodge went completely unnoticed by lodge employees.
Now, mind you, they're not keeping track on every minute by minute movement of their guest, but it was only despite repeated attempts to reach them by a family member that we figure out, hey, we should go out and be looking for these persons. They are in fact missing. As we said, on the 15th, a snowstorm dumped about, dumped nearly a foot of snow over the area. And then on Wednesday, the 16th, that is when they were found. Now I want to circle back to something that we addressed with the rooms being checked. The beds appeared to have not been slept in, made neatly. This is according to lodge employees. Also saying that the suitcases were still packed with all of the items. The debate then becomes at least one source states that some of the items were unpacked And that same source states that.
That on one of the phone calls, the husband was told, No, the three ladies were at breakfast on Tuesday. So let's address those two items real quick. What we do know for certain is that the three women, after having lunch on Monday, they went to their rooms and changed something. A portion of their attire for the hike that afternoon. So it is To make the assumption that whatever clothes that they changed out of may have been the very small amount of clothing that would have been found in the dresser drawers of their rooms. And mind you, they are staying in separate rooms. The breakfast comment. This has never been verified by anybody. So I think that this is just a complete misunderstanding
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- Wanna welcome you back. Cheers to everybody. Cheers to all the people in the back. - Cheers to you, captain. Cheers to all you lovers out there on this Valentine's Day week. That's right, True Crime Garage, the show for lovers. - Yeah. Sorry, I'm trying to transition after that. - That's a tough. Position to make. Room's checked as we said and the general consensus is everything appears that none of the women had stayed a single night. You know, beds are made. And that's exactly what one would expect to find with the women not having stayed overnight. To all the minutia of this case, but we have to stick to this timeline and we can't dissect every little thing too much here because again, there are...
There's only this one source to even suggest that the women were alive and well on that Tuesday morning. I think it's a very big leap with no evidence to back it up. The general consensus is they left for a hike after day's lunch and never were seen alive again after that. That's very important to our timeline, and we discuss this all the time. Time of death, while we cannot narrow it down to an exact hour here, what the investigation is going to hyper focus on is Persons movement and persons who were in the area, confirmed to be in the area, that Monday afternoon, after lunch, and potential eyewitnesses for that time of day. As well.
Is difficult. It's like you said, there's a lot of people, a lot of moving parts and not just people that are visiting. The state park, but people that are staying in the lodge and then people that work in the lodge and people that work are. In surrounding businesses. And then another thing working against law enforcement is if you can't narrow down the timeframe of the death, Really get in the way of establishing alibis for suspects. - And I hate to be so flip about the overall situation because of course it's a great tragedy, horrific case, loss of life, but that's what we deal with time and time again here in the garage. Now, what I'm always looking at, Captain, and you know this, is what advantages and disadvantages does your homicide investigation have?
And each case is unique, each case is very different. And one advantage, while there are certainly a lot of disadvantages to this case, and we'll go through those, but Advantage that I want to point out here is I think that the time of year that the ladies chose to go to Starved Rock is somewhat helpful to your investigation because this is a very large park with a lodge with dining areas with places that you can that one could go to eat. But it's also February. So it's very cold out. We've already Where they discussed all of the snow that was in the area. So I would imagine the campgrounds were probably empty and the amount of people at Starved Rock, whether it be to stay overnight or stay for a few days, or even just visit for.
The afternoon, I would imagine that those numbers are significantly less in the cold, snowy months of February than it would be other times of the year. So that is one advantage that you may have compared to should this horrible crime have taken place in June, July, or August. Now I have to bring up something that listeners have to be thinking. What the flame throwers when they're investigating the crime scene, they're using flame throwers basically to melt the snow to look for evidence. But that's a.
That's a risky business, don't you think? You have the possibility of tampering with evidence. - Yes, no, you're exactly right. And I think that that might be a something that was done out of desperation, maybe. So the flame throwers that we're talking about, this is not Saving Private Ryan flame thrower that you're using to clear out tunnels, right? You're just shooting huge flames into these tunnels to clear tunnels. Have you ever seen someone that is using, it's like a wand with a backpack, and today you would see it used to burn off weeds. It's still very old school, especially if you're burning off weeds on the cracks of sidewalks or asphalt. I've only witnessed this a couple times in my.
Years on this planet, but I have seen it. It's interesting looking. But that's what we're talking about here. So the problem with the snow, we talk about advantages and disadvantages for your investigation, having to use these little makeshift flamethrowers, huge disadvantage for your investigation. The snow, huge disadvantage for your investigation. Because the reports are with the snow that in some areas it was just a couple of inches. Other areas they're saying that the snow was knee deep and given the terrain that does make sense But also you have to keep in mind because this is not completely completely flat land You have these snowdrifts and some of these snowdrifts are knee deep maybe even closer to waist deep for some people.
You're looking for evidence. The ground is a great place to find evidence. We all know that you cannot believe that you're going to find all of your physical evidence inside the shallow cave where they were found. Again, that cave is about five feet. So we mentioned taking to this cave alive or dead. into this cave alive or... Dead, if they're dead, somebody had to go to great efforts to put them up there. You have to go through this snow, seeing what maybe was dropped or placed there, as the killer approached the victims, struggled with the victims, and then fled the scene. You're not going to expect to find it on top of the snow, knowing that the amount of snowfall that you've had since the victims were last seen.
Other points of evidence that we can look into this case. Hide. Now this is not an item that is believed that the victims would have had with them on their person, so this is something that you are of the belief that the killer brought with them to the crime scene and left behind. The bodies were discovered at 12 30 as we said and all three suffered severe head trauma. This blood-stained tree limb, so this is described as three-foot long weighing approximately 10 pounds. This in the days. After the murders was determined to be at least one of the objects that was used to bludgeon the victims to death. We should point out here though that
This, being one of the murder weapons, is highly debated still to this day. Let's also not skip over the fact that the camera found and the binoculars that were found are also believed to possibly have been objects that may have been used to strike the women. So, and note here that the camera and the binoculars belong to the ladies, unlike the twine. These items were brought with them for the hike. - Right. - And as you heard earlier, they're going out to see this beautiful frozen waterfall in the St. Louis Canyon. And as described the area, snow is knee deep in some areas, 22 degrees temperature outside during the search once they locate them. During the investigation. Can you imagine you're out there trying to investigate the savage, heinous triple murder up to-- Your knees in snow at some points, freezing your ear balls off. The log binoculars and camera.
These items are all very difficult. So the log is thought to be one of the items that may have been used to strike the women. Maybe as many as 100 blows each to the head and face area of each victim. and/or camera were also used to strike the women. There was damage done to both items. I believe blood found on one or if not both items. But then there's also some thought captain that maybe. The camera and binoculars were damaged in a scuffle or even use. The women as an attempt to defend themselves. Yeah. Block block the log or whatever was being used to attack them, or maybe even to strike the...
Salient or assailants with the binoculars or camera. Well, it seems like there's also debate on was there more than one. Item used as a murder weapon. - Exactly, I think that in the. The reason why that's so debated is what we've already addressed. Do we have one killer, two killers, three killers? We know we have three victims and usually the number of victims and the number of weapons used would be extremely suggestive of the number of perpetrators involved in a crime. Scene of course it's outdoors first of all there's there's going to be debris in that area on the snow below the snow that will have nothing to do with your murder scene at all
Will have nothing to do with the crimes at all. When you're taking inventory of all of these items and cataloging them, then you have the added work of trying. To determine does it have anything to do with the case at all? Where if you find somebody murdered in the back room of a gas station or somebody who has been killed. In the living room of their home, it's very easy to sort out what is a part of your crime and what is not. The snowfall, extremely complicated for the scene. We have to factor in something that we don't have to factor in a lot of times today captain the looky-loose, right? This is the Crying out loud. And this is how they just seem to do things back then. It's like town crier who's like We have a murderer over here. And then everybody just flocks to the murder scene. We've seen this in several cases that we've covered. We saw it with the brick of family murders that took place in the 60s in Cincinnati, Ohio. Three victims.
Killed inside their home. And the police come in there and they invite the reporters, camera persons, and-- Neighbors to just come in and view the scene. And if you see footage of the Star of Rock case, you'll see that there's just people walking all about looking and checking out what happened. And, and look, we can't fault the investigators in the Star of Rock case, because that's just how they did things in most parts of the country in the 60s. It wasn't They just didn't know any better. They did eventually fence off the canyon area and they posted police guards there to lock down the scene, if you will. This after many reporters, camera Just people that were in the area were able to check it out.
We always talk about transfer theory, transference of evidence. Of course, you can see how complicated that gets with everything we just described. And you're always hoping to find the murder weapon left at the scene, or you're hoping that the damage done to your victim will be quic- To point out to you that your murder weapon may be unique, so that once you do question the right person or search the right person's property or vehicle This item and be able to go, yep, it's 100% connected to our crime scene. Here we have the complication of a log, which again, I...
Highly debated, was it involved in the murder or not? They did find some blood on it. They did test it for fingerprints. They didn't find anything. I wouldn't expect to find much in the way in fingerprints on a log in 1960. I hate to say this because it's a little graphic, but given their injuries and how they were killed, and you pointed out the I'm with the blood evidence here. I think that given their injuries to me, wherever, wherever the most blood is found is where they're killed and the most blood is found in that shallow cave with them.
- Right. - So that, if I had to guess, that's where I would go with it. And then as far as where they were first attacked, where the first struggle went down, could some of this blood that's found outside of the cave, could it be from the victims? Yes. Could it be from a struggle? Yes. Could it also be falling off the perpetrator or perpetrators as they fled the scene? So when you have what's described as large pools of blood in this cave and nowhere else, I'm of the thought that maybe they were probably killed in that cave. And then if you can make that leap, if you're willing to make that leap, then you have to go, okay, well,
Well, now nobody has to carry them up in there. You just have to convince them to get up there on their own and corral them into that cave. And that clears another hurdle in your investigation if you're willing to make those leaps. The investigation is underway, a large pool of good potential suspects. Will be pulling the investigators into many different directions in this case. Of course, they are going to be looking for persons who were in the area of Starved Rock Park, and more specifically the St. Louis. Canyon on the day of the murders Monday, March 14th, especially the afternoon thereof. Another focus, and rightfully so, was the
Be the employees and other guests of the lodge. Investigators request both lists of employees and guests of that lodge. This is perfect for the initial steps of your investigation. You don't necessarily need to find your suspects on either list. You have both staff and lodgers coming and going at all times of the day on Monday March 14th. What did they see? Who did they see? What did they hear? All of these parties were one mile from the murder scene, maybe even closer if they vanished. Over to the one-way-in one-way-out St. Louis Canyon or we're on The trails themselves that day or maybe even overheard one of the ladies say something at lunch of interest to the case. So this action would lead the investigation to focus in on a handful of persons with direct connections to the lodge and a few outsiders.
Well. On Monday March 17th, the day after the bodies were found, the owner, guest, and employees of the lodge are interviewed individually. Now a good number of people are employed here so I won't... Guarantee that all were interviewed on this day, but it seems like most of them were. Now investigators will start eliminating persons if possible, but also move people to the persons of interest list. On that list, I believe right very early on we are going to get at least three people that investigators seem to find an interest in. Uyghur Uyghur, age 21. He's a dishwasher at the lodge, and he's worked on and off at the lodge for a good deal of time, over the course of a couple of years. It is reported that he was in fact at work at the lodge.
Within about a mile or so of the murder scene on that day in question, March 14, 1960. We also have Stanley Tucker. I believe he's a little bit older than Chester Weager. He works in the kitchen at the lodge as well. And we also have a man by the name of George Spiros. George Spiros is the owner's son. And he is a little bit younger than Chester Weager. I could not find his exact birth date or age at the time of this case, but I believe him to be 19 or 20. Does that sound about right to you, Captain? Yes. So he's the son of the owner. Now a few days out is when we.
First start to hear talk of possible suspects. So these people that we just mentioned, they're not mentioned in the newspapers early on, even though police would have taken an interest in the three. - Well, and like I said, we have a lot of people visiting the park. We have a lot of people visiting the lodge because beautiful lodge, but there is a ton of employees. And so that's your. Or immediate circle, anybody working at that lodge is a mile away from the crime scene. And the reason why these three are going to stand out. So immediately you have, you have some things, right? You're going to interview everybody, but when this is being labeled, Especially early on as sex slings or sex maniac killer kills three women.
Immediately you're going, Well, I'm looking for a male or males that were involved in this. So right away, any of the males that you interview are going to be of more interest as far as potential suspects go than any of the females that you interview. These three will separate from the herd because all three of them were at the lodge at one point on the day in question, and all were... Leaving or had the ability to go elsewhere around the time that the ladies would have been leaving for their hike or shortly thereafter.
Of some deranged lunatic who was on the loose from the nearest asylum. The information says, in part, two fairly good suspects are being questioned, or are to be questioned, in the starved rock triple sex slayings. This, according to the New York Times, is a fearful and fearful to the state police. This information came in the March 19th paper, five days after the murders and three days after the bodies were found. The police chief identified the two men as the driver of a truck similar to one seen near the murder scene. The other man is a man who lives nearby. And it sounds to me, Captain, like these two suspects are separate from one another. It's not that they think that these two were together, but with what little information we have, based on this report, it sounds like these two had not been questioned prior that they are going to be questioned.
One important part for the investigators as the captain pointed out would be to attempt to sort out about where and when the ladies were intercepted by the killers, because No one is believing that the killers happened upon them and the ladies were already just chilling in the cave. This while still attempting to collect more evidence from the scene. So if I have your permission, can I address something here, captain? Go for it. Thank you. God bless you, captain. Let it rip. One of just many points of contention in this case has always been could these horrific murders, could they have been committed? By one killer, two killers, or more. And this, in my humble garage opinion, is a very fair debate to be had. I think one could... A strong argument for all three of those options. But I...
Am choosing to say killers here because that's what the papers were saying from Jump Street. And check some of the police's words as well. They are using the plural most of the time when they are talking about this case. So the search for the killers. All right, now we will attempt to sort of rapid fire move through this lengthy timeline, because there's a lot of little interesting nuggets here. March 18th, there's a suspect. He's a stable hand. He's questioned and released. There is film found in the camera of one of the victims. Now this is sent off to be developed.
We're going to see the faded outline of a man behind a tree. This is pointed out to the public by investigators. March 21st. Police receive a flood, what they refer to as a flood of nude leads, and we have some of that information. One is a LaSalle. Automobile dealer reports seeing a man talking to three women along a road that's skirting the canyon. A description opens up a statewide search for this person for the person that this automobile dealer says that he saw talking The description he gives is the male was approximately 25 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 165 pounds with reddish brown wavy hair. This is something that's very...
Very interesting, Captain. Investigators say that on the same day, their probe was strengthened when they received a call from South Dakota. The caller was a reverend. His name is A.W. Heflin. He's a traveling evangelist. He says that he was at the park. On March 14th, the day of the slayings, and he said while he was there, he was taking a lot of pictures. He even did a... Little motion picture filming while he was there. That's what they called in the newspaper, motion picture filming. So picture kind of Zapruder film. So he's making them poor now. Got his little, I don't even know what those old cameras are called, but he's got one of those deals. So he calls the police, tells them this, that he was there and that I'm going to be very helpful. I'm going to mail you the film.
Know, my, for my camera, my camera and my motion picture camera. They question the Reverend via phone on that same day. Now later We will learn that the Reverend will travel to Ottawa, Illinois, to be interviewed by police in person. And in this interview, he says that while he was there at the park, and one thing that's missing from the details that they released to the public about this interview with the Reverend, is what time was he there at the park, right? Like if he was there early in the morning or late at night, none of this has to do, may not have anything to do with our case at all. But he does tell investigators that while he was there, he heard voices while he was walking the trails. And at least one of the voices was a woman's voice. And he says that he heard these voices while he was walking along trails east of the lodge.
Now, I don't think that this puts him in the area of where the women were found, or in the direct area of where the women were found, but I've never walked these trails myself, so I can't say 100% with any level of certainty here. He does say that he saw who he could only describe as work. Men in the area and no one else. So he never sees any of the women never sees any women at all. Thinks that he heard them. Yeah. We don't know what time of day he's there, but he tells the investigators that he was at the state park for approximately three hours on the day of the murders. Well, I feel like once we get the video footage, we'd be able to roughly know what. Time of day, I mean we'd know if it's light or dark. But this is why I like when we cover cases. Because you, my friend, are the Ron Swanson of true crime.
The bids because I've never even heard of this guy yet. Good old Reverend AW Heflin. Yeah. A guy that's spreading the good word and making films and trying to get that money for the Lord. March 23rd. Police report that they found potential new clues. One was an overcoat button and auto keys that were found near the canyon. This is interesting because what is not in debate here is it seems that all the investigators are agreeing that there would have been some kind of scuffle, some kind of physical altercation that would have taken place at the scene or near where the victims were found. Anytime you have that, you expect that you may find.
For lack of a better term, debris of that scuffle, or items that may have been lost or dropped by your perpetrators as they flee the scene. We don't have criminal profiling going on in any heavy level here in 1960, but I did find this interesting. There is a penitentiary nearby. They reached out to the psychiatrist working there and said, Hey, could you draw up a, what they refer to as a prototype of the slayers, based off of the physical evidence that we've gathered at the scene? Basically, they're asking for them, for this doctor to draw up a profile of the killer. Exactly. What would be a very vague prototype of the slayers? And mind you, notice
The, again, using the plural. This is kind of profiling the Genesis, almost, of profiling, where they're saying, look, you've interviewed a lot of violent offenders in your career. Anything that we should be looking for in particular. We also know that on the same day that scraping. From the fingernails of the victims were either being sent... Off to be analyzed or were being analyzed at this time. Two days later on March 25th, investigators confirmed, so there were, there was the sighting of a few different vehicles at the state park that people Had either phoned in or talked to police about during the course of their canvassing the area and interviewing people.
Anytime they were trying to, of course, they're always trying to get license plate information from the people that they talk to or people that say, Hey, I saw this car, but your average civilians not. Walking around making mental note or even writing down license plates. So you're going to get these, Hey, I think it. This or yeah I noticed that it was this but what we get told on the 25th by police is that all of the letters you know I don't can't speak for every state but here in the state of Ohio. We have a set of letters followed by a series of numbers for our license plates. That they released says that letters prefacing license numbers of cars seen at State Park have been checked and all the results were negative. Meaning... If somebody told police that I saw license plate OMG 1960, they ignored
The numbers because they're not saying that they receive full license plates. They're saying anybody that told us letters from license plates that is coming before the numbers, we have at this time checked our database, checked the database, checked the database, checked the database. All the information that we would have, and we're not coming up with anything placing an actual vehicle with those letters on the plate at the scene. It's just suggestive by somebody. It's not backed up by fact. March 31st, the sheriff flies to Rochester, New York for a conference with experts at the Eastman Kodiak Company. He takes with him film.
From the victim's camera. Remember the cameras found at the scene and they get the great idea of we should probably check the film that we find inside this camera and luckily enough it wasn't damaged to the point that they could not review the film. That little piece of potential evidence where they thought that they were seeing the outline of a man behind One of the trees. So this would be in the background, right? You have a picture of one or two of the ladies and in the background, they see what they think is a man who could be, he could be the killer, he could just be somebody walking and passing by, he could be approaching the women getting ready to attack them. But once they take this to the experts, they review it and they determine that this is
not a person at all. It's just an optical illusion brought about by shadows. So it's potentially just simply a shadow that they are seeing. Now where the three women were attacked or intercepted by the killers, this, as you pointed out captain, is going to be something very important to their investigation. This is one of the questions that they want to answer. They say that the answers for this started to fall in place when officials Showed four pictures found on that same camera. So this camera is found lying beside the women's bodies. - Right. - They believe that these pictures were taken by Mrs. Oding. Because the picture showed the other two companions posing happily
On Monday and this is really only what is described as a few feet from the Starved Rock State Park Canyon mouth where their bodies their beaten bodies were found two days later. What's great about this information though is we can then And look at the pictures and depending on what order they're in, we can kind of start tracking the victim's movements. - Exactly, and what we have the state's attorney, Harlan Warren pointing out, he says that these pictures are proof that the women were out on a nature hike and they were in fact surprised by who he's calling a sex crazed attackers after innocently entering the,
Escape-proof canyon floor themselves. So they willingly walked into this general area where their bodies would later be found. The complications for the victim here, the victims here, remember back to the Delphi case that we've talked about so much at length on this podcast, time and time again. When the two victims got to the other side of the bridge, even though they could have fled, They were essentially trapped by the killer who was approaching them via the bridge. Their young minds are going to believe, 'cause nobody does anything on the other side of that Monon High Bridge. Died, you turn around and you come back. So it's, it's always been thought that the killer sort of cornered them by forcing them to either go past them, past the person that they were afraid of.
The bridge or just freeze and stay there on the side of the bridge and watch the person that has skeeved them out approach getting closer and closer. Here, even more so, you go down into this St. Louis canyon and listen to the way that The state's attorney describes where the women were standing based off of the photograph evidence that they find on the victim's camera. It says that the victims innocently entered the escape-proof canyon floor, which is bounded on three sides by 110-foot cliffs. So they're basically walled in. It's either go through the person or persons that have approached you or... Remain there.
I want to thank everybody for joining us here in the garage. Stay tuned for part two for everything. True crime, check out truecrimegarage.com and while you're there sign up on our mailing list. Be good, be kind, and don't be afraid. Be kind and don't...
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Transcript generated on 2024-02-15.