I occasionally get emails from readers about a case that's affected them personally. Sometimes the victim was a loved one. Other times the crime took place in their neighborhood and the unsolved status troubles them. I'm always struck by the specific, often moving details contained in these emails.
From now on I'll post once and a while a type of story I'm calling "In Their Words." It'll work this way: first a summary of the case, and then a quote from the person who alerted me to it. Get in touch if you have one you'd like to share. You can remain anonymous.
Here are two such stories.
The Chloroform Murders
March, 1981. St. Paul, Minnesota. Diana Smith, 23, and Scott Jones, 29, were engaged to be married. They were artsy, creative types --- Smith was a budding theater director and Jones aspired to a career in landscape architecture. When Smith failed to show up to a prearranged meeting with her father, he called police to report her missing. Police found the couple's bodies in Jones's apartment. The crime scene appeared orderly and staged. No sign of a struggle. But perhaps the strangest thing was the cause of death: the couple had been forced to inhale chloroform.
A prime suspect soon emerged. A former boyfriend of Smith's was a dental student with access to chloroform. He was convicted in the rape and kidnapping of another former girlfriend a short time after the chloroform murders. But police were never able to get the one piece of evidence they needed to file charges. The case remains unsolved.
"I'm a movie producer out here in La La land, but in the late 80s I was an undergrad at Macalester College. I had a part time job at a home rental company called Dial-A-Home. I spent the day answering phone calls from prospective renters, and would occasionally prank call our competitor, and the woman I would call was Diane. After a while, the calls became flirtatious, and she told me to knock it off and we finally met for dinner.
Though there were no romantic sparks, I thought she was pretty and interesting. During the course of the evening, I remember she told me she was having trouble with someone, a stalker type, and I remember she mentioned something medical, perhaps a teacher or fellow student.
A year later I was coaching debate in Northern Colorado and I heard about the murders. I called the Mpls PD and the Detective I spoke with was not terribly interested in my info and said he would get back, which he never did. He said they had a suspect and that what I said was in line with what they were hearing. I was a little annoyed, because to be frank, I felt like contacting them could put my name in play. I'm sure everyone calling law enforcement with info in cases like this feels like that.
Anyway, nothing happened, and I moved on, but I have never forgotten the case, and I have read strange stuff on the Internet about the suspect and his brother, and his subsequent conduct, and their falling out.
I used to make Network Made-For-TV movies, and this would be one for Lifetime."
- Chris Kobin
Roger McCall, 52, spent 30 years working as the overnight disc jocket for WCMF in Rochester, New York. "Unkle Roger" was a beloved local figure, a tireless supporter of up-and-coming bands. On December 12, 2003 Roger was shot in his son's driveway by a young man who disappeared and hasn't been identified. Police believe it may have been a robbery attempt, but have very little to go on.
"Unkle Roger was such a good guy and a help to so many local musicians and music fans. I had the opportunity to work with Roger at WCMF and he was always kind and supportive of everyone he met. Whether you were a rock star or a kid in a struggling band, Rog held you in the same esteem. He was an authentic, caring, talented, and funny man — a real one-of-a-kind. He did so much to lend a hand to so many, it disappoints me that we as a community haven’t been able to help solve his murder."