KY KY - Howard, 61, & Helen Becker, 57, Erika Higgins, 9, Jefferson County, 25 June 1979

Discussion in 'Cold Cases' started by wfgodot, Mar 23, 2017.

  1. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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    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:

     
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  3. Woodland

    Woodland Well-Known Member

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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.
     
  4. Woodland

    Woodland Well-Known Member

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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.
     
  5. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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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.
     
  6. Woodland

    Woodland Well-Known Member

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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.
     
  7. Woodland

    Woodland Well-Known Member

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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?
     
  8. fred&edna

    fred&edna Well-Known Member

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  9. fred&edna

    fred&edna Well-Known Member

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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?
     
  10. Dallen

    Dallen New Member

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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
     
  11. Woodland

    Woodland Well-Known Member

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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.
     
  12. papillon2126

    papillon2126 Member

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    She is a DVM in Floyd, Virginia, Kathleen (formerly David) that is.
     
  13. fred&edna

    fred&edna Well-Known Member

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    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?"
     
  14. Dallen

    Dallen New Member

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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.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  15. bflocket

    bflocket Well-Known Member

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  16. Woodland

    Woodland Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  17. Woodland

    Woodland Well-Known Member

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    After concluding that all three victims had been fatally shot with the rifle, the next day they found that half the spent cartridges at the scene were from a .25 caliber handgun. Howard I. Becker Jr. and his granddaughter had been shot with both weapons, while his mother was shot only with the pistol.
    .....
    The use of a second firearm suggested there might have been two killers.


    Someone with a beef against the family brought a friend? Only one person? Two people had a beef?

    This is a tough one imo.
     
  18. 4SAM

    4SAM Kentucky - Texas - Kansas - Missouri

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    MOO....someone probably knew the family or suspected wealth of the family and possibly intended to rob the place only to find them at home, as for the rape, it was a second thought and someone clearly just wanted to "satisfy" their urge. I believe 2 people were there, poss a woman and a man.
     

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