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  1. #1

    IL - Geraldine Patton Williams, 43, West Frankfort, 14 April 1963

    I am gathering some research for a potential writing project on a murder case which happened in my small hometown. An employee of a small neighborhood grocery store was found beheaded by the meat cutter. (sounds like an episode of CSI doesn't it?). This occured in the early 1960's. There were a couple of suspects but no arrests were ever made.

    I am currently gathering facts that were reported in the local papers at the time.

    I haven't gotten the nerve to question the local police department. I'm not sure what rights the general public has to crime files such as those.

    Any suggestions on what to do next?

  2. #2
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    Did you research all the old newspapers at the library? Talk to all town historians? Get the names of all the previous owners of the businesses in that area, interview, find out who worked in that area at the time, interview, locate past associates of victim, interview, research other crimes of the time, research arrest records during that time period.

  3. #3
    I have since learned that a "prominent citizen" was always suspected as the killer but no charges were ever filed. So far nobody has been will to say who the "prominent citizen" is or if he is still living.

    One person I spoke to said that they thought the case was ruled a suicide. She said most people in the community didn't buy that because evidently a you have to "shove" something through a meat cutter in order for it to cut.

    Things are getting interesting. I'll post back whatever I find out.

    You mentioned arrest records? Are they available to the public?

  4. #4
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    Not only check the larger area libraries (county, city, university or college) but also the smaller town libraries. The large libraries will carry the large-circulation newspapers, however most of these will have carried stories from the newswires-AP, UPI, etc. The smaller libraries will have the local town papers, which are more likely to carry "rumors and gossip"-type stories (which can really help in research.

    Another avenue to pursue are retired officers who were on the force at the time. This will require you to speak to the local PD, but you won't necessarily need to stroll into the local precinct house. Strike upa converstion with an officer on patrol-preferably a more mature officer who may have heard stories passed on from the officers before them. They may be able to start you in the right direction, give you names of retired officers who were there...If there was a cover-up, the officers may have done what they felt was their duty and played along, but they probably weren't happy about it. They may appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankfortHeights
    You mentioned arrest records? Are they available to the public?
    Anything that happens in court is public info- other than the juvenile and probate divisions. (Even divorce records) How to get access to it differs from state to state. In my state some of the record is online, Fla. it is online- but for a fee. Check with a clerk of courts in your state and ask how to get to the court records.
    When I say that court records are public info- there will be some info that won't be available to the pubic- but anything that occured in a public hearing (including any paperwork submitted) is usually available.
    If it isn't online, you will have to physically go to the courthouse and view the records, pay for any copies.
    Just when I think that I have seen the most depraved things a human can do to another human, somebody posts a new story...........

    Why is it that when a custodial parent fails to provide for a child it is called neglect and is a criminal matter. But when a non custodial parent fails to provide it is called failure to support and is a civil matter?


    "Just when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly" ~ Michelle Knight

  6. #6
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    Victim

    Hi , sorry if it has already beeen said, do you know the victims name?

  7. #7
    I do not know the victim's name yet but I am getting close to getting that information. I've narrowed down the time period of when the murder occurred and have ordered back copies of newspapers through interlibrary loan. I'll post the information once I get it.

  8. #8

    Details of Easter Sunday Murder

    Here is information I have learned about the case since my original post.

    Benton Evening News – Monday, April 15, 1963



    Murder Possibility Probed in Frankfort: But Suicide is Probable Officers Say



    The decapitated body of a 43-year-old West Frankfort widow was discovered Sunday morning in the grocery store she operated and authorities are investigating the possibility of both murder and suicide.



    State’s Attorney Joseph Hickman said today that “all signs point toward suicide,” but he was not ruling out the possibility that Mrs. Geraldine Patton Williams was murdered.



    Though medical reports fixing the time of death are not available, it is believed Mrs. Williams died some time Saturday evening, likely after she closed the Patton Grocery Store at 1716 East Main Street in Frankfort Heights after 10:00pm Saturday.



    The body was discovered by West Frankfort policeman Arthur Marks, who investigated when Mrs. Williams could not be found by a Sunday morning newspaper distributor and by a clerk at the store both of whom searched her living quarters immediately behind the store.



    Mrs. Williams’ body was found behind the meat counter section of the store, the head severed from the body apparently by a band saw. Authorities said the head was resting on a shelf near the saw and the body was found lying prone and face down behind the meat counter near the saw.



    When Marks investigated, the saw was still running and was hot. Sheriff Ray Carrell said there was no sign of any struggle or violence. Mrs. Williams was clad in slacks, shoes and a brassiere. Her blouse had been removed and placed on nearby boxes.



    Investigation by officers found that she had apparently counted out the Saturday store receipts and that as far as can be determined no money is missing.



    Coroner Eugene Dorris said that Sunday newspaper dealer Paul Kelley came to the store about 8:00am yesterday bringing papers for Mrs. Williams to sell as he normally does. He found doors locked and could not locate anyone. He summoned Hank Killion, a clerk at the store and Killion entered the living quarters through an east side window. He went into Mrs. Williams bedroom, noting that her bed had not been slept in, found nothing out of order in the living room and left the living quarters through the window, then called authorities.



    Policeman Marks also entered through the window. He found that all the doors of the building were locked, but a door into the store that was closed, was not locked. It had a “snap-type” lock on it.



    Mrs. Williams was widowed about eight years ago and had operated the store about four years. Her mother, Mrs. Mattie Patton, who lives nearby, is the owner of the building. Mrs. Patton was visiting in Chicago over the Easter weekend. Mrs. Williams lived with her eleven-year-old son, Jay, who was also away over the weekend, visiting in Ziegler.



    Coroner Dorris said that no notes were found in the living quarters or in the store and that Mrs. Williams was not known to have been especially despondent. She was not known to have been in ill health recently.



    State Crime Laboratory personnel were summoned to the scene and arrived Sunday afternoon to conduct an investigation that included fingerprint taking and other work.



    Pathologist Dr. Fred Kiechele of Evansville, Indiana conducted a thorough post-mortem examination at the Franklin Hospital yesterday after the body was removed from the store at mid-afternoon.



    Coroner Dorris said that although Dr. Kiechele’s report will not be available until Thursday, he found no sign of a blow or other marks of violence on the head or body. He said there was not evidence or rape or molestation.



    Pending reports from the pathologist and the state laboratory, Dorris did not immediately set a date for an inquest into Mrs. Williams’ death.



    Mrs. Williams was said to be small woman, weighing an estimated 105 pounds. A crowd estimated as large at one time as 500 persons gathered in the area of the store as word of the bizarre tragedy circulated. It was reported that Mrs. Williams’ mother was hospitalized after being informed of the death of her daughter.



    Mrs. Williams is survived by her son, Jay, 11, her mother, Mrs. Omer Patton, a brother, Glenn Patton of Bridgeview, and a sister, Mrs. Lucille Hill of Mt. Vernon.



    Funeral services will be held at 2:00pm Wednesday at the Second Baptist Church in West Frankfort. Interment will be in Tower Heights Cemetery. The body will lie in state at the Vantrease Funeral Home in West Frankfort after noon Tuesday.



    Benton Evening News, date?



    Still Awaiting Lab Report in Frankfort Death



    Authorities today expected to receive reports tomorrow from an Evansville, Indiana pathologist and state crime investigation experts on the death of Mrs. Geraldine Patton Williams, 43, whose decapitated body was found Sunday morning in the West Frankfort grocery store she operated.



    State’s Attorney Joseph Hickman today said that no one has been taken into custody in the matter he earlier said pointed toward suicide.



    Mrs. Williams body was found near a meat-cutting saw that had been used to sever her head from her body. Hickman said today “not one scrap of evidence points to murder,” although he said murder cannot be ruled out because an aluminum storm door could, if a person knew how, have been locked from the outside.



    He added that investigation is continuing and that he and Sheriff Ray Carrell are obligated to pursue every rumor no matter how absurd.



    Authorities found no notes in the store or living quarters. Robbery earlier was ruled out as a motive for murder because funds owned by Mrs. Wiliams were found. A preliminary pathologist’s report indicated no marks of violence on her body other than the saw cut.



    It was learned that so far almost $2,900 has been found in various places in the store and living quarters since the body was discovered. The pathologist’s report will come from Dr. Frederick Kiechle of Evansville who conducted an autopsy Sunday at Franklin Hospital.



    Benton Evening News = date?



    Frankfort Death Was Suicide, Pathologist, Crime Expert Say



    Both reports of a pathologist who conducted an autopsy and a state crime expert who conducted an investigation indicate that Mrs. Geraldine Patton Williams, 43, West Frankfort widow, was a suicide.



    State’s Attorney Joseph Hickman told the Evening News today that he has received reports from Dr. Frederick L. Kiechle of Evansville, the pathologist, and from Thomas Cole, supervisor of the Identification Section of the Illinois State Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.



    Mrs. Williams’ body was discovered Sunday morning at Patton’s Market, 1716 East Main Street in West Frankfort, the store she operates. Her head had been severed from her body with a band-saw meat cutter that was still running when the body was found.



    Dr. Kiechle said in his report, “It is my medical opinion that death resulted from suicide on the basis of the available evidence and the autopsy findings.” Cole said that on review of photographs and other evidence, his opinion was that the death was suicide.



    The pathologist said that there were no signs of injury to the woman’s scalp, no skull fracture or no brain contusion. He found no needle marks on the body or no skin or hair fragments on or under the fingernails. He said no signs of asphyxiation were noted.



    However, Dr. Kiechle said, “of course, we cannot rule out the possibility of murder since this patient could have been hypnotized or first smothered, perhaps in a pillow, without leaving specific traces.”



    Dr. Kiechle did not pinpoint a possible time of death.



    Neither Hickman nor Coroner Eugene Dorris had any comment today on the reports. Earlier they said the reports would be used to interpret all the evidence found at the scene of the death. Dorris said that a date has not yet been set for the inquest.

  9. #9

    Inquest - Would this be a public record?

    The last newspaper article mentions an inquest being held? I wasn't able to find anything more from the papers? If this was done wouldn't that be a legal matter that would have a paper trail?

    I've found a couple of distant relatives of the victim who said that family was never convinced this was a suicide. To this day they still consider it an unsolved murder.

  10. #10
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    Why in the world would this poor woman count out the days reciepts and then do herself in with a band saw? Man, even if I were contemplating suicide, which I'm not, that would be the very last method I would use. Phew!!!!


  11. #11
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    O - M - G !!! How in the world could they say with a straight face that it was a suicide?!?!?!


    Authorities said the head was resting on a shelf near the saw and the body was found lying prone and face down behind the meat counter near the saw.

  12. #12
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    You think she would have at least turned the saw off when she was done. This is as good as the story I posted about my parents' friend who was found in his underwear on his front lawn, with a bullet having passed from his lower back, up through his body, and exiting his chest. A rifle was found on the porch about 25 feet away. He also had bruises and cuts over most of his upper body. That was a suicide, too. I guess he sat on the rifle on the porch, pulled the trigger, stood the rifle up by the door, but then had the courtesy to bleed out on the lawn.

    The results of the inquest should be public record, in the Coroner's office.

  13. #13
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    H0NEYWEST is offline I have a .38 and an ocelot ~ they're both loaded
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    Quote Originally Posted by SimonSays
    O - M - G !!! How in the world could they say with a straight face that it was a suicide?!?!?!
    "Authorities said the head was resting on a shelf near the saw and the body was found lying prone and face down behind the meat counter near the saw."

    Ummmm....there must be another way to write that. A body can't be face down when the face is resting on a shelf.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by H0NEYWEST
    "Authorities said the head was resting on a shelf near the saw and the body was found lying prone and face down behind the meat counter near the saw."

    Ummmm....there must be another way to write that. A body can't be face down when the face is resting on a shelf.
    LOL, Honeywest. I thought that but was afraid to say it.
    Just when I think that I have seen the most depraved things a human can do to another human, somebody posts a new story...........

    Why is it that when a custodial parent fails to provide for a child it is called neglect and is a criminal matter. But when a non custodial parent fails to provide it is called failure to support and is a civil matter?


    "Just when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly" ~ Michelle Knight

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mysteriew
    LOL, Honeywest. I thought that but was afraid to say it.
    Omg, me too. I was thinking they should have said lying stomach side down or something.

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