The 1969 Parkway Murders Revisited - By William Kelly
When the bodies of four young women were found in a ditch off the Black Horse Pike, more than a few people had a déjà vu.
On Memorial Day, 1969, parkway maintenance worker Elwood “Woody” Faunce discovered the bodies of Susan Davis and Elizabeth Perry in the secluded underbrush off the
The year old college coeds were missing since the previous Friday, when they failed to return to
But unlike the thousands of others, after leaving early Friday morning to beat the holiday weekend rush, they would drive onto the Parkway, never to be seen alive again, except by their killer.
When the girls failed to make it to
Then Howard Blazer of Blazer’s Garage on
Blazer went fishing and Trooper Sturr left the area for the weekend and everyone forgot about the towed car, until the following Monday, Memorial Day, giving the killer or killers a three day lead before the bodies were discovered.
Despite a massive investigative effort, with police interviewing thousands of witnesses and dozens of suspects, the case remains unsolved, one of a few high profile unsolved murder cases in
As the years stretched into decades, there were periodic peaks of media and public interest, like when a new suspect emerged or a mass murder confessed to the crime. Both Gerald Eugene Stano and Ted Bundy, two of the most prolific mass murders in history, claimed credit for the Parkway murders.
The police took the Stano confession serious enough to send two detectives down to Florida State Prison to interview him, but he didn’t know any of the specifics of the case, had the murder taking place on the wrong side of the Parkway and got all of the details wrong.
Bundy however, proves a more elusive suspect. After being caught in
Before being executed in
Because of patient – doctor confidentiality, he couldn’t reveal what Bundy had said, but after he was dead, Norman reported that Bundy had told him, in a taped conversation, what it was like for the killer, sort of like, ‘how OJ would have done it.’ While talking in the third person, Bundy was saying what it was like to leave
“Is this just a amazing coincidence?” Norman asked at the time of Bundy’s execution, “That he just happened to be there on Memorial Day before he went back to the west coast and two girls disappeared in that area at the time?...I believe that this is where he really started. And it may not be enough for the DA, but I think its enough to raise some curiosity.”
Robert N. McAlister, Jr. was the Atlantic County Prosecutor at the time of the murders, and kept the case open while he was in office. The current prosecutor Jeffrey Blitz has been periodically reviewing the case for the past few decades. Blitz said, “I spoke to Dr. Norman. He relayed information that he had interviewed Bundy years ago and that he had come to the conclusion that Bundy was responsible for the Co-Ed murders. I asked him if Bundy said he did it, and
What is convincing to a psychiatrist is not satisfying to the lawyer. But according to
Bundy at the time, was a
Bundy was convicted on circumstantial evidence in
While Bundy’s fingerprints on the car or his DNA evidence at the crime scene could prove conclusive, the NJ State Police and Atlantic County Prosecutors Office are reluctant to pin him to the crime, as if it was Bundy, the failure to catch him then led to the deaths of fifty more beautiful young women. No one from
One thing is for certain, according to those who investigated the crime, whoever was responsible for the 1969 Parkway murders, killed again.
After local police were publicly criticized for the “tragedy of errors” during the initial phase of the investigation, Elizabeth Perry’s father wrote a letter to the editor of local papers saying, “I comprehend their abilities quite more clearly than does other residents who presume to criticize them. This is not to suggest that every last man on the force is a Sherlock Holmes, but it was apparent to me, and I’m sure I can speak for Mr. Davis, that they are dedicated and competent people trying to do a job against great odds.”
Unlike most cold case detective television shows, not all murders are solved, but sometimes, old cases are resolved, sometimes decades after the crime is committed. Solving such multiple murders quickly however, will most certainly prevent the killer, like Bundy, from continuing to commit crimes in different jurisdictions, over long periods of time.
While few officials today actually recall the details of the 1969 Parkway murders, the still unresolved nature of that case stands out as a reminder to local police detectives and state and federal investigators as they continue to pour over the evidence in the recent Pike murders.
Like the Parkway murder, the girls all fit a specific type, their bodies were discovered off the side of a major highway, and their killer or killers have had a good lead time before their bodies were discovered.
Christian Barth, a
Although forensic science has developed new investigative techniques and types of evidence like DNA that didn’t exist in 1969, who knows what new evidence, new witness, what clue could lead to the perpetrator?
And perhaps with renewed media and public interest, the 1969 case will eventually one day be solved.
William Kelly - Billykelly1@aol.com