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  1. #1
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    KS - Avery Family/Gary Longfellow, Ottawa, 28 March 1973

    Forty years, three murders and no answers in Franklin County cold case (Lawrence Journal World)
    Gary Avery, now 63, was working the nightshift at the Lawrence Paper Company on March 27, 1973, when he received a call that his mother and brother were missing.

    The bodies of Gary’s mother, Hazel, 60, brother Steve, 19, and family friend, Gary Longfellow, 23, eventually were found in the back of Hazel’s 1964 Chrysler, which was parked just off U.S. Highway 59 in Ottawa. The three had been shot to death, execution-style.

    Police had no apparent motive or suspects, and few leads, in the triple homicide.

    In the 40 years since, scores of investigators — to no avail — have taken a crack at solving the murder mystery.
    ---
    According to accounts from police and family members, Steve Avery was attempting to hitchhike from Iola to Lawrence, on Highway 59, the night of March 27, 1973.
    ---
    On the stormy night, Steve’s progress stalled, and he called his mother from a pay phone in Richmond, about 40 miles south of Lawrence.

    Hazel, a local nurse who lived in the 600 block of Alabama in Lawrence, called Longfellow to accompany her on the trip because of the late night and stormy conditions.

    They left about 10:30 p.m. Motorists reported seeing Steve walking along Highway 59 two miles north of Richmond, or perhaps south of Princeton near Central Heights Road.
    ---
    Franklin County saw previous triple homicide in 1973 (Topeka Capital-Journal)
    ---
    A resident who reported seeing a body in the car called the Kansas Highway Patrol to the scene on the morning of March 29.

    Authorities learned the car had been there since at least 6:40 a.m. March 28. They narrowed down the time frame of the killings as having been between Midnight March 27 and 6 a.m. March 28.

    All three victims were found fully clothed. Each had been shot more than once. Each died of a bullet wound to the head, fired at close range.

    The Daily Capital reported Hazel Avery was found “kneeling on the floor in the front seat on the passenger side, her head lying on the seat and one bloodstained hand reaching out to the side, as if to ward off a blow.”

    The newspaper reported the men were found “seated facing one another at opposite ends of the rear seat, their feet intertwined and heads bowed.”

    It said the men looked as though they had been arranged in place after being shot.

    No weapon was found, and nothing was stolen. The Daily Capital reported the Franklin County attorney’s office ruled out robbery as a motive.
    ---
    much more at the links above

  2. #2
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    Thanks Woofie. I seem to remember something about this case. I will read the links and get up to speed!
    "If at first you don't succeed, skydiving isn't for you!"

    The above post is my opinion and my opinion only. Please do not copy and past to other forums.

  3. #3
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    It was such a big case and yet I'd forgotten all about it - although I've driven by the location hundreds of times and lived within a block of U.S. 59 downstate for a significant portion of my life.

    In a weird way those murders - never solved and never, I gather, a serious suspect - were, for Kansas, or northeast Kansas, near the university, anyway - like an end of the '60s. It wasn't exactly a "Haight Ashbury post-Summer of Love, switching from LSD to bad speed" type of thing, not that cultural import, really, but the notion that three people could be shot to death by some rough beast who must have come out of the storm and out of the darkness, inevitable and ineluctable, in generally peaceful Kansas, not far from the very center of the continental 48, then murdered them for no discernible reason, and then the crime never solved - well, it did put a period mark to the long, hopeful sentence of the decade which came before it.

    "Things fall apart, the center cannot hold," Yeats wrote. And that was true of that March night in 1973.

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    At one point, weren't these murders thought to be linked to BTK?
    "If at first you don't succeed, skydiving isn't for you!"

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tezi View Post
    At one point, weren't these murders thought to be linked to BTK?
    They may have been as it was a year before BTK's reign of terror though the m.o. doesn't really fit. Conceivably could have been a crime of opportunity a young Dennis Rader might have done, though. It was certainly as senseless.

    He was living in Park City at the time, just over two hours away.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wfgodot View Post
    They may have been, but it was a bit before BTK's reign of terror and the m.o. doesn't really fit. Conceivably could have been a crime of opportunity a younger Dennis Rader might have done, though. It was certainly as senseless.
    OK, I read the article and realized I had my potential killers mixed up. This does seem to be a "Lucas" type of killing. Meaning a crime of opportunity.

    JMO, IMO, , and all other disclaimers.
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  7. #7
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    I suppose my general theory would be that, after picking up her hitchhiking son, she and his pal then also, perhaps at his bidding, saw another hitchhiker on the road that messy March night and stopped for that person, as well.

    But, while hitchhiking was not rare in those days - Steve Avery had been hitching home from Iola, about 80 miles from Lawrence - I've never seen a hitchhiker on that particular stretch between Princeton and Ottawa. And well after dark, too.

    Of course, that means nothing. Something happened.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfgodot View Post
    I suppose my general theory would be that, after picking up her hitchhiking son, she and his pal then also, perhaps at his bidding, saw another hitchhiker on the road that messy March night and stopped for that person, as well.

    But, while hitchhiking was not rare in those days - Steve Avery had been hitching home from Iola, about 80 miles from Lawrence - I've never seen a hitchhiker on that particular stretch between Princeton and Ottawa. And well after dark, too.

    Of course, that means nothing. Something happened.
    That seems like an extremely plausible theory. It makes the most sense.

    What about a "hit?" I see the investigator says that is a possibility? But, really, those kids weren't old enough to be involved in something that dangerous, in 1973, IMO.

    IMO, JMO, , and all other disclaimers.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by tezi View Post
    That seems like an extremely plausible theory. It makes the most sense.

    What about a "hit?" I see the investigator says that is a possibility? But, really, those kids weren't old enough to be involved in something that dangerous, in 1973, IMO.

    IMO, JMO, , and all other disclaimers.
    There was the court case mentioned and I suppose, conceivably, someone followed them from Lawrence, but it doesn't seem likely. No one knew she was to leave the house at that hour on an unexpected trip.

    If it was a hitchhiker, though, wouldn't that person take the car? Why stay out in the elements on a stormy night? Although perhaps that person lived nearby.

    Plenty of trouble to get into in 1973. University of Kansas had a student population of probably 15,000, so there were drugs aplenty. Violent political activity also - the student union was bombed and someone burned the ROTC building down in this approximate time frame.

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    According to unlinked articles from 1973 I read on another forum, authorities received a tip in a letter that the U.S. 59 murders were (somehow) linked to the discovery of a body a couple miles southeast of Garnett and U.S. 59 - about 25 miles south of the Franklin County killings - about three weeks later.

    http://doenetwork.org/cases/1088umks.html (horrible reconstruction of victim's head!)

    No cause of death apparently was established for this person, whose remains were skeletal and thus his death probably predated the homicides; nor apparently were any connections found with the three deceased persons near Ottawa.


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    After reading the articles linked above, my initial thought is two perpetrators, a man and a woman. Possibly the woman was hitchhiking, appearing to be alone as her male companion was hiding behind brush. A woman alone in bad weather, most people would stop to help. And if there were two perps, compliance from the victims would be had quickly.

    The lack of motive seems to be the most confusing element of this case. However, the arranging of two of the victims’ bodies in the rear seat is where that motive can be found, I think. This may be a taunting to police or to someone specific in the police dept. at that time.

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    Another scenario I was thinking: Perhaps when Hazel Avery and Longfellow picked up Steve on the highway he had company. Was it possible Steve was befriended by a fellow highwayman? He did stop to use a pay phone to call his mother. Someone could have been lurking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wfgodot View Post
    There was the court case mentioned and I suppose, conceivably, someone followed them from Lawrence, but it doesn't seem likely. No one knew she was to leave the house at that hour on an unexpected trip.

    If it was a hitchhiker, though, wouldn't that person take the car? Why stay out in the elements on a stormy night? Although perhaps that person lived nearby.

    Plenty of trouble to get into in 1973. University of Kansas had a student population of probably 15,000, so there were drugs aplenty. Violent political activity also - the student union was bombed and someone burned the ROTC building down in this approximate time frame.
    bbm

    What is the reason for taking a vehicle? To get from Point A to Point B. What if they were at Point B at the time of the murders? No need for the vehicle.

    This would suggest someone very local is responsible for the murders.

  14. #14
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    The Highway in Question. (Wiki) Not exactly mythic but 59 does bisect this country almost perfectly.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by wishuwerehere View Post
    Another scenario I was thinking: Perhaps when Hazel Avery and Longfellow picked up Steve on the highway he had company. Was it possible Steve was befriended by a fellow highwayman? He did stop to use a pay phone to call his mother. Someone could have been lurking.
    Definite possibility, an attachment probably acquired when he made the phone call but not sure where he called from - Princeton? Richmond? As he was coming from the south, Richmond, a bit bigger than Princeton - we're talking about 500 v. 300 - was the town he'd hit first, and a probable spot for the call; I think it did have a highway-fronting filling station at the time, though Princeton may have had also; he seems to have been spotted, though, north of Richmond but south of Princeton - they're seven miles apart - and no reports he was with a companion.

    Well, no reports I know of. Imformation is scant even online after 40 years. Whatever the case, another hitchhiker on a wet night may well have sheltered alongside the road in a filling station and Steve A. may have met with his fate right there.

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