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Suspect charged with 1960s murder of black woman

Suspect charged with 1960s murder of black woman

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- A man who investigators believe is responsible for a racially motivated murder in 1968 was charged with the crime Wednesday, implicated by his own daughter who was only 7 at the time.

Kenneth C. Richmond, 70, of Indianapolis was charged with the murder of Carol Jenkins, a 21-year-old black woman from Rushville who was stabbed to death with a screwdriver while selling encyclopedias door-to-door in Martinsville.

The nearly 34-year-old crime has haunted both Jenkins' family and the city of Martinsville, a nearly all-white rural central Indiana city of about 12,000 that has been branded racist since Jenkins' death on Sept. 16, 1968.

Fighting back the tears, Jenkins' father Paul Davis said he never gave up hope that his daughter's murder would be solved.

"At least I know that my daughter can rest in peace," he said. "I just feel like she was always saying, 'Daddy, why couldn't you find out who did it?'"

An innocent plea was entered for Richmond during an initial hearing Wednesday afternoon on the murder charge.

"He's articulate and intelligent, and looks forward to the opportunity of putting the state to the task of prosecuting a 33-year-old case," defense attorney Steve Litz said.

Investigators from the Indiana State Police and the Martinsville Police Department spent the past 20 months resurrecting the case. Interviews led them to Richmond's daughter, Shirley Richmond McQueen, now 40 years old, of Indianapolis.

According to a probable cause affidavit, McQueen told investigators that when she was 7 she had watched an attack on a black woman in a small town. She said her father, who is white, was driving with another white man in the passenger seat while she rode in the back seat.

She told detectives her father had been drinking and had "a pronounced dislike for black people."

McQueen said when her father and the other man saw a black woman alongside the road, they slowed down and started yelling at her. They passed, then turned around, then approached her again.

This time, according to the affidavit, Richmond stopped the car, grabbed a screwdriver from the seat and got out of the car with the other man. The two men chased the woman, the other men grabbed her, and then Richmond stabbed the woman once in the chest with a screwdriver.

"They returned to the car and were laughing, stating 'she got what she deserved,'" the affidavit said.

McQueen told detectives that when she and her father returned home, "he gave her seven dollars to not tell her mother what had happened."

Police said the information from McQueen was corroborated by evidence in the original investigation and they are confident that it is accurate.

Still, there is no physical evidence to implicate Richmond, and Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega said it would not be easy to rely on the eyewitness account of someone who was 7 years old at the time.

"Obviously, you have to build one brick at a time," he said. "Why did it take thirty-odd years? A 7-year-old had to grow up, to mature and to have the guts to come forward."

Mayor Shannon Buskirk said the arrest was validation that his city is not racist, as it has often been portrayed since the murder.

He noted that in 1968 Richmond lived in neighboring Hendricks County and the victim was from Rushville, a small town about 50 miles away. He said it was just circumstance that the attack happened in Martinsville.

Wednesday was a good day for Martinsville, Buskirk said.

"This has attached itself to the city for the last 33 years and it has definitely hurt our city," he said.

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