Unknown Edna Laughman Killer- Pennsylvania- 1987 Sept 27, 2018 0:42:48 GMT -5
Post by Scumhunter on Sept 27, 2018 0:42:48 GMT -5
(Above photo credit: abc27.com)
(From eveningsun.com (Hanover, Pennsylvania): (WARNING: some details may be graphic)
Donna Ruth was 31 years old when her aunt, Edna Laughman, was raped and murdered at her home in the 1500 block of Carlisle Pike, Oxford Township, on Aug. 13, 1987.
Ruth hadn't seen Laughman in about 20 years, although she used to visit her frequently as a child.
"It was just such a shock, because you wouldn't expect that to happen to a woman her age, who lived alone, who really had contact only with her neighbors and (with people) when she went to church," Ruth said.
A few days after Edna's body was found, police arrested a suspect. He was tried, found guilty and later exonerated when DNA testing technology improved and was able to clear him as a suspect.
Now, investigators are taking advantage of another improvement to technology and awaiting genealogy results from DNA taken from the scene in 1987.
Edna was 85 when a distant relative and neighbor found her dead in her bed that night at about 7 p.m.
Edna's cause of death was suffocation, and the motive for the murder was rape, according to investigators.
Police said that she was found lying on her back, partially nude with her mouth full of pills.
There were pills around her body, she was holding an orange pill bottle and the contents of her purse were strewn on the bed and floor. Police also found semen on Edna.
On Sept. 8, 1987, Barry Laughman, who was 24 at the time and another distant relative of Edna's, was interviewed by police and he gave a seven-page confession.
During Barry Laughman's court process, the defense had him tested by psychologist Ray Bowen. Dr. Bowen's findings were that Barry Laughman had the mental age of a 10-year-old with a fourth grade reading level, according to a 1988 Gettysburg Times article.
Barry was sentenced to life in prison for rape and murder.
In 2003, DNA was extracted from the semen found on Edna, and Barry Laughman was exonerated after 16 years in prison because his DNA did not match the DNA found at the scene.
Now, 31 years later, investigators can use that DNA to find a genetic history and composite sketch of what the suspect looks like.
The DNA has been sent to Parabon, which specializes in advanced DNA analysis. Police expect to have the results from the testing by the beginning of October 2018.
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Scott Denisch, who is part of the Criminal Investigation Unit, said back in the 1980s they didn't have DNA testing and from what he understands, a confession was like gold.
Another investigator now on the case, Trooper George Kelly, said they have the best evidence an investigator could hope for with the DNA.
Since they took over the case, they said they have swabbed many people for DNA, but have yet to get a hit.
Both Denisch and Kelly said they feel confident that Barry Laughman did not commit this crime.
There is a chance that the suspect is dead, but now with this testing, they have a chance of getting some answers, Denisch said.
About four years ago, Ruth started a Facebook page called, 'Help Solve Who Killed Edna Laughman.'
"I started looking into names and things, and I thought, I'm just going to do a Facebook page because people always have something to say," Ruth said.
At first, she got a good response, but then as time went on it withered. Now trying to get input from people on Facebook is like "pulling teeth" for her.
Kelly believes that someone might have "inadvertent knowledge" of something. That they just don't have the right perspective at this time, he said.
"If they bring us the information, and we start looking into it and we talk to a person, they could have an 'Ah-ha' moment," Kelly said.
Ruth tries to stay away from the details of what happened to Edna, and she tries not to think about what Edna went through.
"I was a nurse for 21 years, and sometimes with that you learn to take a step back and look at the situation a little bit before the emotions kick in," Ruth said.
Ruth asks people to please speak with police if they know something or think that they might know something.
"This person should really be behind bars," she said.
Anyone with information about the case should call Pennsylvania State Police Gettysburg and ask to speak with Trooper George Kelly at 717-334-8111.
'Help Solve Who Killed Edna Laughman' Facebook page: m.facebook.com/whokilledEdna/
Thoughts? I saw Edna's case in my Google news feed today and while hopefully new DNA technology solves her case, it is a shame to see another wrongful conviction because the defendant was an adult with a mental capacity of a child. (I would be very weary if on a jury if the defendant confesses but ha proven issues of mental impairment if there's no DNA evidence to go along with it).
The case could have been solved by now if not for the erroneous confession.
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