Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Parkway Murders - Cold Case Gets Hot?

After 40 Years the Parkway Murders Cold Case Gets Hot

By William Kelly

It was a cold case from the start when the bodies of Elizabeth Davis and Susan Perry were found three days after they were murdered over the Memorial Day weekend, 1969.

The college coeds had spent a few days in Ocean City before the holiday weekend and left their 9th street rooming house early on Friday morning, ate breakfast at the Point Diner and then disappeared down the Parkway north, heading home to Pennsylvania.

By Monday, when it was realized that an abandoned convertible towed off the Parkway Friday morning was the car belonging to the missing girls, the bodies were found in the woods nearby.

There were many leads followed and many suspects checked out over the years, including two mass murders in Florida prisons who confessed to having killed the girls, but closing the case remained elusive for the Atlantic County Prosecutor and the lead investigators – the New Jersey State Police.

Now, 40 years later, there’s a new book about the murders, a new State Police investigator has been assigned the case, and a new lead may develop additional suspects.

Christian Barth, a lawyer from Cherry Hill, N.J., has recently published a book, The Origins of Infamy, which describes how serial killer Ted Bundy may have committed the crime. The book, which is available on line at Amazon [http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Infamy-Christian-E-Barth/dp/1440138931], is also available at Sun Rose Books in Ocean City, where Barth will be selling and signing copies of his book on Wednesday, June 22, from 5 to 8 pm.

According to the publisher’s synopsis, “Based on a true story, The Origins of Infamy tells of Ted Bundy's alleged involvement in the murder of two coeds at the Jersey Shore on Memorial Day 1969.”

“Speaking to his biographer on the eve of his execution, Bundy is offered the chance of clemency in exchange for a confession to his involvement in the unsolved deaths. Before learning what transpired that weekend two decades earlier, journalist Richard Larsen, author of The Deliberate Stranger, is led on a psychological journey through the condemned murderer's past. From Bundy's own voice, Larsen learns the root causes motivating him to become America's most notorious serial killer. Beginning on Death Row at Florida State Penitentiary, then traveling back in time to Seattle, Philadelphia, New York City, and Ocean City, New Jersey, The Origins of Infamy vividly recreates a historical account of New Jersey's most famous cold case.”

Ocean City historian Fred Miller has said, "Barth's novel is a spellbinding reimagination of one of the more disturbing unsolved cold cases in local history. With hope, perhaps his work shall bring closure to this troubling mystery."
Drawing on details of the crime, Barth develops a plausible scenario as to what really happened.

But did Bundy do it?

The investigation never really tried to find out, as they never checked Bundy’s gas credit cards from when he was a student at Temple, or compared his fingerprints to the prints found on the car, or attended the Bund Conference at Quantico after he was executed to see if he could have been responsible for other crimes.

Now however, there is a new lead in the investigation, as a local insurance man has said that on the day before they were murdered the two girls were in a fender bender accident with two young men in a Volkswagen Van. The insurance man handled the claim and after the murders informed the New Jersey State Police about the incident, but was never contacted. Did that lead get lost in the shuffle of leads at the time of the murders?

With a new State Police investigator responsible for the case, both Bundy and the boys in the VW Van will probably be checked out, as well as other leads that failed to pan out before.

Two things are for certain however, whoever is responsible for the murders, committed other crimes, and may still be committing them, and the details make for stimulating reading on the beach this summer.

Bill Kelly can be reached at Billykelly3@yahoo.com