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The Killing Season - Websleuths

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  1. #1
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    AZ - The Murder That Wasn't...Or Was It? - Did Walter Hess kill "Carol" in 1969?

    This one was just too bizarre not to post....

    Excerpted from the Mansfield (OH) News Journal, July 16th 1977...33 year-old Walter Hess was haunted by vivid memories of a murder he committed eight years earlier. In late June '77, he walked into a Chicago police station and confessed to the crime. According to Hess, he had picked up a 20 year-old female hitchhiker known only as "Carol" somewhere in Phoenix in August of '69. She said she wanted to go to Flagstaff. Somewhere north of Phoenix, "Carol" tried to get Hess to sniff cocaine. Hess, an alcoholic, stated that he despised the use of hard drugs and shot "Carol" in the head with a .41 cal revolver. He then buried the body near three cactus plants and buried the gun nearby. Afterward, he cleaned out his camper.
    Chicago police contacted Phoenix LE, who stated they had no record of such a missing person. The Chicago police then released Hess (!). The memories continued to haunt Hess, who then went to the Milwaukee PD with even more details. The Milwaukee PD then also contacted the Phoenix LE, who sent a detective to escort Hess back to AZ. Once there, Hess was driven over the route he claimed the murder occurred. He could not locate the grave, but could point out the area where he picked the girl up. Hess was given a lie detector test, which indicated he was telling the truth about the crime. One of the Phoenix detectives, "a certified practioner of hypnosis", then put Hess under. While hypnotized, Hess said he had cleaned the camper, but had sold the gun in a bar before meeting the girl. Based on this, the LE decided that the whole story of murder was an alcohol-induced delusion.
    The detective then placed Hess in alcohol rehab, from which Hess promptly walked away.

  2. #2
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    Southwestern Maine is home but I'm not there nearly often enough
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowangel
    Hess was given a lie detector test, which indicated he was telling the truth about the crime.
    Or at least it showed that Hess believed he had commited this crime. Interesting demonstration that the polygraph cannot detect delusion or similar states of mind. This man's brain had fabricated a false memory.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2005
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    Maybe he was a black out drinker and only remembered bits and peices of the story.It could be true he's just looking at the wrong set of cactus.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ihadcabinfever View Post
    Maybe he was a black out drinker and only remembered bits and peices of the story.It could be true he's just looking at the wrong set of cactus.
    Perhaps, but there are still two elements that seem to disprove that a murder had actually occurred: the fact that "Carol" was never linked to any missing persons report and the fact that while under hypnosis, Hess recalled having sold his gun prior to the murder. Given his state of health I'd say there are good chances that Hess was experiencing delirium which can affect heavy drinkers even after years of abstinence. In any case, even if this murder did take place no DA would ever charge an individual if there is no evidence whatsoever other than a foggy memory that a crime has actually occurred. Maybe Hess did give a ride to a "Carol", but she may just as well be a figment of his imagination.

    As it stands, the case, or lack thereof, more than likely fits the legal definition of "frivolous". It would be interesting to see the matter investigated further but I doubt it'll ever happen.

  5. #5
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    As a drifter, she wouldn't have been on record in Phoenix anyway. Perhaps he sold the gun after the murder.
    It would seem unusual to have "vivid memories" of a crime committed 8 years prior if he were experiencing alcohol related issues.



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