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  1. #1
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    ID - Lonnie Jones, 13, Orofino, September 1951

    Orofino Idaho is a small logging town 50 miles east of Lewiston.
    It sits on the Clearwater River In the Clearwater Valley surounded by timber covered hills that stretch up to the Camas Prairie.
    Every year in September it hosts an annual celebration 'LumberJack Days' where lumberjacks both local and from out of state compete in a variety of competitions that highlight their woods skills.
    Axe Throwing,Log Rolling,Sawing Contests ect.
    The celebration also features a carnival with rides and games like any country fair as well as livestock and farming exibits and 4-H showings.
    Among the throng attending the events in September of 1951 was 13 year old Lonnie Jones.
    He was from the small community of Weippe 8 miles up the Greer Grade above Orofino.
    He had came down to spend the day at the fair with his Grandmother.
    She lost track of him most of the day as he ran around with friends at the carnival.
    About 6:30 she ran into him and told him it was time to go.
    He asked to be allowed to stay as there were other relatives at the carnival and he could catch a ride home with them.
    She relented and gave him $5.00 spending money.
    He never returned home that night.
    The relatives he was supposed to secure a ride with later told investigators trying to piece together Lonnie's movements after his Grandmother left,that they never saw him.
    Later Two teenagers from the small town of Kamiah 30 miles east of Orofino testified that they picked Lonnie up at about 12:30 that night standing at the end of the bridge that connects Orofino to Highway 12 on the other side of the Clearwater River and gave him a ride seven miles east to the tiny sleeping community of Greer that sits at the very bottom of the steep and winding Greer Grade leading to his home in Weippe.
    There they left him.
    He was never seen alive again.
    His relatives reported him missing the next day.
    The Fair ended and the carnival left town.
    Two days later a truckdriver stoped to releive himself in a small wooded area next to the river about midway between Orofino and Greer.
    He saw something laying in the middle of a small rutted road that led to the river.
    He jumped into his truck and raced to Orofino to alert authorities.
    It was Lonnie Jones.
    He was nude with his hands bound behind him with a handkerchief.
    He had been sexually assaulted and his throat was cut ear to ear.
    The authorities and the town were stunned as this kind of crime was nearly unheard of in those days.
    It was almost immediatly announced by authorities that this must be the work of a 'Transient Degenerate'.
    The investigation went nowhere fast.
    For years there were rumours about a 'Cousin' of Jones' who had the interior of his car upholstred then 'Left Town' authorities branded them just that: rumours.
    Several prominent Lewiston businesmen posted a $5000 dollar reward for information leading to an arrest.
    Several out of state detectives applied themselves to the case but got nowhere.
    Ran afoul of locals or the law.
    Most just gave up and left.
    For decades afterward there were occasional anniversary recaps in the local paper with quotes from law enforcement asking for anyone with information to come forward.
    No one ever did.
    And there the case sits to this day.
    Last edited by Kimster; 05-06-2012 at 03:34 PM. Reason: featured cold case from 5/6/12 to 5/13/12

  2. #2
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    I have some vacation time coming up next week,Im going to spend a few days up in Weippe and the surrounding area hopefully getting some backround.
    This case has been a Macabre urban legend around this area for decades.
    Its kind of interesting seeing it in the light of day.
    I dont have any illusions about the probablity of this case ever being solved(Though im fairly certain it was a local who's responsible).
    The killer is undoubtably long dead.But its and interesting case to investigate.Wish me luck.

  3. #3
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    What a sad case. Thanks for posting it. Do you know if this "cousin" was every thoroughly investigated, or if anything regarding him was just chalked up to rumors? Good luck sleuthing around on your vacation there next week. Hopefully you can find something out. I wonder if LE is still investigating it in some capacity? Sounds like the local LE hasn't done much in the way of trying to solve it except to release their statements on various anniversaries!
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  4. #4
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    Yeah they arent investigating it at all of course "anyone with any info is encouraged to..ect.ect."
    There was never any evidence against the cousin at all as near as I can tell.
    And the investigation itself seemed to be pretty dialed in to the 'pervert transient'angle Because of course no one around here could do something like that.
    I know a few members of the local LE and Im going to try very delicately to see if there is a chance to get a look at whatever files may still exist but you have to be real careful about how you approach those circles unless you want to get a the files are 'unlocatable' at this time answer.
    Wish me luck on that as well.
    Thank you very much for posting I thought Lonnie was headed for the deep back pages of this forum in a hurry!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by kline View Post
    Yeah they arent investigating it at all of course "anyone with any info is encouraged to..ect.ect."
    There was never any evidence against the cousin at all as near as I can tell.
    And the investigation itself seemed to be pretty dialed in to the 'pervert transient'angle Because of course no one around here could do something like that.
    I know a few members of the local LE and Im going to try very delicately to see if there is a chance to get a look at whatever files may still exist but you have to be real careful about how you approach those circles unless you want to get a the files are 'unlocatable' at this time answer.
    Wish me luck on that as well.
    Thank you very much for posting I thought Lonnie was headed for the deep back pages of this forum in a hurry!
    I wish you every luck with your search. I remember very well how things were "back then". When my cousin was murdered, no one would even discuss whether or not she and the other 15 or so young women had been sexually assaulted, let alone if there were any "perverts" in the family.

    What I've gleaned from researching these cases is there was a lot "covered up" back then. Women and children did not need to "hear" this stuff and yet, so many lives were ruined in one way or another.

    God Speed!

  6. #6
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    Thanks Blackwatch very much.
    Yes,attitudes and sensibilties were very ,very different back then.
    I think they are often very much reflected in the investigation at least this one.
    With the incredible amount of time that has passed I dont think this case will ever be 'solved',but mostly for my own sastifaction I decided to try and find out the 'truth' of it as much as possible.
    Ive heard of this murder since I was a small child.I dont know how many times Ive heard people remark on it when they drove past the spot near HWY 12 where Lonnie's body was located.
    It used to frighten me as a child.
    Its funny alot of the myth that built up around this case of course is just that myth,but surprisingly alot of what got passed down is turning out to be the straight dope.Very interesting.
    I may try and write about it as a personal exercise,if indeed there is a story here.
    I kind of just want to put it together in context with that time and this place I live in now as it existed then.
    Kind of revoke the time that has passed since for a little bit and see what there is to see.
    Out of my own curiosity and I guess because Lonnie was 13 when he died ,he didnt leave very much behind.
    He needs someone to remember him for a little while.

  7. #7
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    I'm looking forward to reading about your journey. You may not solve the case, but as you said, "He needs someone to remember him for a little while.". I totally agree, and now there are several someones to remember him. I've always believed as long as someone remembers you, you aren't really gone. If that makes any sense.

    You also said, "Its funny alot of the myth that built up around this case of course is just that myth,but surprisingly alot of what got passed down is turning out to be the straight dope.Very interesting."

    Yes, it is intereting and I've also found that to be true in many aspects of life. The old folks knew a lot of truth that we've forgotten and believed we were educated beyond. More and more I'm seeing the wisdom they had; they weren't as dumb as we thought. I believe some of the ancient societies had it right when they honored and listened to the elders.

  8. #8
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    Yes, kline, I also wish you good luck in getting a peek at those files. I can imagine how discreet you will have to be in order to gain access to them, so I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers! I sincerely hope you find something out. It seems that justice along with some publicity for this young boy is long overdue.
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  9. #9
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    Thanks much guys I really appreciate the good wishes!
    I am going to proceed very carefully on the files Im going to try and broach the subject this week with a friend of mine who is a Sherriffs deputy without giving away my anxiousness about seeing those files.
    There are two other people I know as well who may be able to help.
    Keep your fingers crossed.
    Im driving up to Weippe again tommorow Im not going to approach any family memembers unless things change but I would like to see what people in Lonnie's community remember if anything.
    I will keep you posted!Thanks again!

  10. #10
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    This seems like one of those cases where a detective ( a smart one) needs to grab the evidence boxes and go through it piece by piece. The teenagers' story sounds suspicious to me. I wonder if there is any DNA?
    John 3:16

    Everyday it is my fervent prayer that these cases are solved


  11. #11
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    Carnivals back then ended around midnight, so the time frame of 12:30 would not have been out of line for Lonnie. At 13, he was probably a bit scared as he stood at the bridge in Orofino.

    I'm guessing the teens were believed, although we have no evidence. RR tracks ran between the river and the road Lonnie would have walked from the turn-off at Greer to Weippe. The hobo life was less, but still around. However, it sounds more like the murderer had a vehicle because L's body was found between Orofino and Greer.

    In the 50's "carnies" weren't the most credible people, and my memory includes many of them having criminal backgrounds. This could include child molesters, since there were no checks. Carnies probably had access to vehicles. So, the idea of a transient degenerate might not be far off.

    IMO if the perp was a local, he would have struck again.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trino View Post
    Carnivals back then ended around midnight, so the time frame of 12:30 would not have been out of line for Lonnie. At 13, he was probably a bit scared as he stood at the bridge in Orofino.

    I'm guessing the teens were believed, although we have no evidence. RR tracks ran between the river and the road Lonnie would have walked from the turn-off at Greer to Weippe. The hobo life was less, but still around. However, it sounds more like the murderer had a vehicle because L's body was found between Orofino and Greer.

    In the 50's "carnies" weren't the most credible people, and my memory includes many of them having criminal backgrounds. This could include child molesters, since there were no checks. Carnies probably had access to vehicles. So, the idea of a transient degenerate might not be far off.

    IMO if the perp was a local, he would have struck again.
    Im still completely undecided on that point,I go back and forth.
    Your absolutely right about the Carnys,as a former Correctional Officer my inmate radar goes off on the Midway about 50 times everytime I take my kids to the fair.
    (As a matter of fact Ill be going to Lumber Jack Days in less then two weeks with my daughter)
    And it is certainly possible there is a connection.
    Also the fact that there were no other murders like that in the area.
    On the other hand if the teenagers were telling the truth about dropping Lonnie in Greer...it doesnt seem like that little wide spot in the road would be a place a predator would be prowling that time of night or come across by chance....back across the river from HWY12.
    If however our killer was returning to Weippe or Peirce from Orofino they would have crossed the bridge from the HWY to Greer headed for the grade....and went right by Lonnie either standing at the bottom with his thumb out or hiking up the grade.
    Also and this is just speculation,there are about a thousand places Lonnies body could have been dumped on the grade where he may never have been found.
    Ive wondered why back towards Orofino?
    Perhaps by the returning Carny perp or... if you lived up on the hill in Weippe after youve done your thing with Lonnie and are sobering up and its getting light and your starting to get scared and you want to put the body as far in the opposite direction from where you are heading as possible, you can choose left toward Kamiah except the river is up to the HWY most of the way with very ittle shoulder or right towards Orofino with one spot along the way with enough ground and trees on the river side of the road to conceal the body..at least before you get too close and can see the lights of town,and that is precisely where he was found.
    Of course with so little evidence to go on one could probably speculate forever and its doubtful Ill be able to answer these questions after so much time,still its interesting to wonder.But we shall see!
    As far as DNA goes Im sure they would have had samples if they had known what DNA was but thats something Hopefully Ill find out if I can get a look at the case files.
    Thank you for the input guys I can use all I can get.

  13. #13
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    kline..were you able to find out any more info at all or look at the file on this?
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  14. #14
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    Did the teenage boys say that they actually dropped him off at his home? If so, then it seems odd to me that his body was found back toward Orofino.

  15. #15
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    No,his home was a good twenty miles up the Greer grade.
    They dropped him in Greer a tiny little comunity at the bottom.
    Things have been kind of disorganized on this story at the moment
    ironicly because 'Lumberjack Days' is upon us again this week ,it doesnt start until Thursday but the Carnys already have most of the Fairground set up. My kids are all champing at the bit and school started last week .
    I located Lonnie's grave and paid a visit.
    Very sad.
    Hopefully things will calm down shortly.

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