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Life Of Carol Jenkins-Davis Honored
Updated November 1, 2017 8:47 AM
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(MARTINSVILLE) - Two small central Indiana cities are honoring a woman whose killing nearly 50 years ago left a community branded as racist over her long-unsolved death.

An event Wednesday put Carol Jenkins-Davis' name on a city park in her hometown of Rushville. A ceremony today at 1 p.m. at City Hall will dedicate a memory stone outside City Hall in Martinsville, where the 21-year-old black woman was killed while selling encyclopedias in 1968.

Rushville Mayor Mike Pavey says the redesigned park will recognize Jenkins-Davis' life and help teach the value of inclusion and diversity.

The Murder

In September 1968, 20-year-old Carol--dressed in a white cotton turtleneck, a pair of olive-green wool pant, a brown jacket, and a bright yellow scarf, embarked on her first day of selling encyclopedias door-to-door. To impress her boss, she volunteered to go to Martinsville, Indiana. Martinsville was known to be a sundown town, yet Carol thought she would be safe that evening, as she would be traveling there with three co-workers - two white men and a 19-year-old black woman.

While on her route, two white men in a car began following her, cat-calling at her and hurling racist slurs. She approached the home of a young white married couple, Don and Norma Neal, seeking help, asking them, "Please let me in, I've got somebody following me."

The Neals called police out to their residence. The police reported that they tracked down two locals who admitted following her, but admitted to nothing else.

Norma Neal walked several blocks with Carol looking for her co-workers. When they couldn't find them, Neal offered to let Carol stay at their residence, but Carol turned down the offer saying she didn't want to trouble them further. Around 8:30 p.m.., Carol then walked off, heading to the predetermined rendezvous point where she was supposed to meet her co-workers to head back to Rushville.

Approximately 15 to 30 minutes later, two men got out of their car and chased her down. Her arms were held back from behind by one man, while the other man stabbed her with a screwdriver in her heart. The men left her in the street where, bleeding out from the wound, she died.

Carol's father insisted that, due to the racist past of Martinsville, the police bring in the FBI to help investigate, but the police refused. Davis would later say, "I felt that because she was a black girl, nobody did anything

In the ensuing years since her death, Carol's mom, Elizabeth, and her father, Paul Davis, have worked to keep her memory alive while seeking to bring their daughter's killer to justice. It took nearly 33 years before Carol's killer was charged and only after an informant came forward having seen a cold case story about her murder. Incredibly, the key witness to solving this crime was the killer's daughter.

In June 2000, Carol's mother, Elizabeth, received an anonymous phone call from someone revealing the name of the killer. Elizabeth told Paul, who dipped into his retirement savings to hire a private investigator to look into it. After the Indiana State Police got wind of Paul's effort, they assigned two Cold Case investigators to look back into the murder. And, in November 2001, the investigators received an anonymous letter naming the killer - Kenneth Clay Richmond. The letter also said that Richmond's daughter, Shirley, had witnessed the murder.

On May 8, 2002, police arrested Kenneth C. Richmond in an Indianapolis nursing home. Upon his arrest, Richmond was found to be a 70-year-old career criminal with a history of bizarre behavior and affiliation with groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. At the time of the killing, Richmond lived on a nearby Hendricks County farm and was just passing through Martinsville on the night Jenkins was murdered.

Richmond's estranged daughter (of 24 years), 41-year-old Shirley McQueen, corroborated the details of Carol's murder, including the clothing that Jenkins was wearing that night, which never had been revealed to the public. So detectives believed that the information given about the murder was accurate and they had found one of the killers.

The police realized that they would not have found Shirley if it had not been for the anonymous phone call and letter. Both the call, and the letter, had been provided by 46-year-old Connie McQueen, Shirley McQueen's former sister-in-law. Shirley had confided in Connie about the murder, and Connie felt compelled to do something.

Shirley McQueen stated that Richmond had a "pronounced dislike for black people." Then, she confirmed that, as a 7-year-old, she watched from the back seat of a car as her father, and another man- who had been riding around drinking together - killed Carol Jenkins.

McQueen stated that, when her father and the unknown assailant got back into the car, Richmond laughed and said of Jenkins, "She got what she deserved." And, as they drove away, McQueen looked back and saw Jenkins fall next to a bush.

McQueen stated that, as they drove back home, Richmond gave her seven dollars - one dollar for each year of her life - to keep his daughter quiet about what she had witnessed.

Richmond never went to trial for Jenkins' murder, nor was his accomplice ever identified. He was declared incompetent to stand trial and, two weeks later, on August 31, 2002, he died of bladder cancer

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