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  1. #1
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    KY - Dr. Kathleen Anne Becker and the unsolved murders of mother, father, niece

    Louisville Courier-Journal 03.23.17:

    Decades later, Becker family triple murder still haunting

    A long whodunnit from 1979, more than worthy of your reading time and blurbed thusly:

    Thirty-eight years ago, a 9-year-old was raped and she and her grandparents were shot to death. The crime still haunts police, prosecutors, the accused and her family. At the suggestion of a retired detective, the Courier-Journal revisited the case and found some stunning twists and turns, especially in the life of the defendant. The following account of the 1979 triple murder and its aftermath is based on court and police records, interviews, emails and accounts in the Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times..
    Last edited by wfgodot; 03-23-2017 at 06:10 PM.

  2. #2
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    This is a riveting story imo wfgodot - thanks for posting.

    For reference - the date of the triple murder was Monday, 25 June 1979. Possibly the first day of summer vacation for the 9 year-old victim.

    The family -

    Howard I Becker Jr - age 61 in 1979. A senior physicist - his father was an inventor. Unhappy that his son David wanted to become a vet after earning a masters degree in engineering.
    Victim - shot with a rifle and a handgun while lying prone on a bathroom floor of his home.


    Helen Becker (nee Berg) age 57 in 1979 - wife of Howard.
    Victim - shot in the side of her face with a handgun. Exact location in home not stated in article.

    Helen and or Howard were making dinner - found in oven and on stove.

    David Becker - 25 in 1979. Lived with parents - was an electrical engineer with a masters in engineering. Wanted to become a vet. Found victims in the home and called 911 after returning from riding his horse stabled in another location.
    Accused of murdering his parents and niece Erika (listed below).
    Found not guilty on 6 Mar 1980. Went on to become Kathleen about 24 years later, including gender reassignment surgery.

    Karen Becker - article does list age in 1979. Mother of Erika - divorced since Erika was an infant.

    Erika Higgins - age 9 in 1979. Visiting grandparents Howard and Helen.
    Victim - raped and shot twice - once with rifle and once with handgun (head and heart). Found partially hidden in dresser drawer.

    Diane Becker - 10 years older than David and married in 1979.

    Barbara Becker - age in 1979 not listed in article. Appears to have been unmarried.

  3. #3
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    Other possible suspects considered by investigators for the defense -

    LDH (see article) charged one year later with rape and sodomy of woman in same community as the Becker home - found not fit to stand trial. No indication LDH knew of Beckers.

    LRR - known to Beckers, possibly a neighbor. Caught stealing fence posts from substantial Becker property. Tension between families. LRR committed suicide in 1999.

  4. #4
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    Thanks, Woodland -- thought so too. I barely remember this case but do recall the timeline was a key factor in the verdict. And then as now I don't know whether Becker did the deed. It's one of the better late-20th c. yet-unsolved U.S. cases around, and this article lays it out nicely -- an interesting read and with a twist in the denouement.
    Last edited by wfgodot; 03-24-2017 at 12:34 PM.

  5. #5
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    Like the jury, cannot see how David could be the killer.

    Can't help but chuckle at the friend from the stable claiming she dropped her watch in a bucket of water and was drying it off when David pulled out of the parking lot that night - so she was able to say exactly what time he left.

    Seems David was in the clear without that, with his stop to buy his preferred oil to apply to the hooves of his horse. The oil was found in his truck. No mention that a receipt was confirmed with a date and time, but it doesn't seem to have been disputed by the prosecution.

    Between the friend and the stop, David called 911 roughly 2 minutes after arriving home.

    Also for reference, the rifle used on Howard and his granddaughter Erika belonged to the Beckers and was kept in the kitchen. The handgun was never found and ownership remains a mystery.

    One question I have is, where in the kitchen was the rifle kept? Was it visible to anyone in the kitchen or in a cupboard/closet?

    If not visible, then the killer knew it was there - which would include a number of people. This was likely included in trial testimony, unfortunately not in the article.

  6. #6
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    Other questions where answers are likely available due to a trial -

    According to the article in post #1, the prosecution entered a lot of evidence on the second day of trial. Seminal fluid in or on Erika was not mentioned. Was seminal fluid found?

    Kathleen offered DNA many years later for testing - the prosecution did not taker her up on that offer. Makes me wonder if an object was used. Either way, horrifying for the child - equally horrifying to live with as a parent of Erika.

    Finances for members of the family - checked or not checked at the time? One married sister/daughter, one divorced sister/daughter and one single sister/daughter.

    Would be interested in the child support regarding EH after many years of divorce. Up to date?

  7. #7
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    Photos of the house (I believe this to be the correct addr)

    https://www.redfin.com/KY/Louisville.../home/84099480

  8. #8
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    I'm a local and I've found myself all-kinds-of curious about this case. I don't remember anything about it! Woodland... you pose some interesting questions. Currently, I'm trying to figure out where Karen might be today... VT? I don't see her linked on KAB's FB but then maybe she doesn't do Facebook?
    Last edited by fred&edna; 03-24-2017 at 07:45 PM.

  9. #9
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    Wow, thanks for bringing this case to light. I've never heard of it before.

    I have the same questions as you Woodland, as the article doesn't mention several things. Seminal fluid wasn't mentioned, which lead me to wonder if this was a case of sodomy, which LDH was accused of in the other case.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #10
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    Having trouble piecing together exactly what happened to EH.

    She was found in her grandparents bedroom - she had been raped and the prosecution claims she was trying to hide in dresser drawer when she was shot.

    Something seems off or missing with this scenario.

    I don't buy into DB's involvement for 2 reasons off the top of my head. 1 - if DB was going to be inappropriate with her, why his parents bedroom? He still had his own room in the same house. 2 - dinner was being prepared so clearly one of the parents would come looking for EH.

    Did EH run to her grandparents bedroom out of fear when someone entered the home? Did someone take EH to that bedroom?

    Did that person(s) leave to get the gun and rifle after raping EH and she tried to hide while they were gone? They shot EH while she was trying to get into the drawer? It doesn't make sense (not that this crime makes any sense) that someone would try to put her in a drawer after she was shot twice.

    Was the person known to EH and could not let her live? Was she the main target? Were the grandparents the main targets and EH happened to be there?

    Leaning towards someone known to the people killed.


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by fred&edna View Post
    I'm a local and I've found myself all-kinds-of curious about this case. I don't remember anything about it! Woodland... you pose some interesting questions. Currently, I'm trying to figure out where Karen might be today... VT? I don't see her linked on KAB's FB but then maybe she doesn't do Facebook?

    She is a DVM in Floyd, Virginia, Kathleen (formerly David) that is.
    Last edited by papillon2126; 03-24-2017 at 08:23 PM. Reason: added more info

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by papillon2126 View Post
    She is a DVM in Floyd, Virginia, Kathleen (formerly David) that is.
    I was trying to find KAREN (Erika's mother)

    KAB has two of his sisters listed as "friends" on FB but I didn't see Karen. Again, maybe she doesn't have a FB account.


    From my post: "Currently, I'm trying to figure out where Karen might be today... VT?"
    Last edited by fred&edna; 03-24-2017 at 09:27 PM.

  13. #13
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    My exact thoughts, Woodland. Solely based on this 1 article and my own opinion, I am leaning towards someone entering the home to attack the grandparents and EH running and hiding in the drawer. Whomever entered the home wasn't expecting her to be there. We haven't seen anything about the family being gone and arriving home, so it's unlikely someone was hiding in the home, assaulted EH and then shot the grandparents.


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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfgodot View Post
    Louisville Courier-Journal 03.23.17:

    Decades later, Becker family triple murder still haunting

    A long whodunnit from 1979, more than worthy of your reading time and blurbed thusly:
    I think this is just a problem for me because Louisville is my closest "big city" and I look at the C-J every once and a while, but here's the cache'ed version. I'd already used up my articles for the month.

    Decades later, Becker family triple murder still haunting

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dallen View Post
    My exact thoughts, Woodland. Solely based on this 1 article and my own opinion, I am leaning towards someone entering the home to attack the grandparents and EH running and hiding in the drawer. Whomever entered the home wasn't expecting her to be there. We haven't seen anything about the family being gone and arriving home, so it's unlikely someone was hiding in the home, assaulted EH and then shot the grandparents.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Re-reading the article, I see that EH was not found partially inside the drawer. She must have tried to hide there first, leaving signs that she had done so.

    Her naked body was found in her grandparents’ bedroom, where she had tried to hide in a dresser drawer. She had been raped, evidence showed.

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