When Karen was killed, Mike Pettey was in charge of the crime scene, and he didn't
leave it for about 8 hours. His supervisor, Barry Hamilton was outside the house,
questioning absolutely everybody he could find--the paving crew, neighbors,
on-lookers--anybody that might have any information about the murder. He talked to
Bonnie Kidd, who lived across the street from the murder scene. She told Sergeant
Hamilton three things: that Karen had changed her hairstyle recently; that we had a
dog; and that she had seen a man in a compact pickup truck come to my house while I
was at work.
I didn't know any of this until 3 1/2 years later, but I knew investigators were VERY
interested in trucks the night of the murder.. I would imagine at least an hour was spent
in the wee hours of the 13th going through the list of trucks belonging to friends and
family, again and again. It was difficult, because most people I know own a truck of
some kind. I was asked if we had a dog within a few hours of the 911 call. I was
asked these questions again three days later at the funeral home. I was also asked then
about Karen's "drastic change of appearance," and I told them that anybody that had
said that obviously didn't know Karen very well. When asked the same questions again
under somewhat better circumstances, I was able to describe changes in Karen's
appearance over time in detail, including different hairstyles and what her weight was,
and to show pictures verifying it.
I didn't know why these questions about Karen's alleged change of appearance, our
alleged dog, and the alleged man visiting the house in a truck were taking so much time
early in the investigation.
I did know that the only person visiting the house with any regularity at all was her
friend, Sarah Holden, who was driving a compact truck part of the time, and often
visiting several times a week. Mrs. Holden, in accordance with her strong religious
beliefs, dresses and grooms herself very plainly and could be mistakened for a male from
100 yards (the rough distance from Kidds's front door to ours).
Two months after the murder, I got a letter from Bonnie K. Kidd, 2329 Chapel Hill
Dear Dr. Tipton,
My husband and I would like you to know that have some unanswered
questions regarding Karen's death. A very odd thing happened during the
"investigation." (I have a very low opinion of the Decatur P.D.) A Sgt. Hamilton
made an appointment to talk to us about a small compact pickup truck we saw
often at your home on weekday afternoons. The Sgt. never showed up. He called
several days later and apologized for missing this appointment, but never
re-scheduled it. Was the Decatur P.D. able to identify the owner of the truck? Is
that why we never heard back from Hamilton?
Please let us know if you'd like more information, or if you've heard anything
from police that would exonerate the male driver of this pickup.