Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Hundley Murders

The Hundley Murders

Coldest of Cold Cases

By: Joseph L. Giacalone File Photo
On December 12, 1928, just before midnight, shots rang out in the sleepy little town of Carbondale, Illinois. When the smoke cleared an elderly couple were shot to death and still no leads or hope of solving the case.

This wasn't an ordinary couple. The male victim, J. C. Hundley was the former Mayor. He was shot in the back of the head at close range with a .45 caliber as he sat on his bed. His wife, Luella, was found in the kitchen by the back stairway with three (3) gunshot wounds - two (2) in the head and one (1) through the heart. Somebody wanted these people dead.

This case will be eighty-four years old this December 12, and probably will never be solved. Anyone that is associated with or knew about the case is long dead and buried themselves. Cold case investigators are faced with the same problems in every case that they look to re-examine: Misplaced or destroyed evidence, dead witnesses or witnesses that "fell off the face of the earth," or no chance of testing for DNA. These are often referred to as solvability factors - something that can be used to solve the crime. From the reports that have been made there seems to be zero solvability factors. The only evidence that remains according the news reports are corroded shell casings.

However, this case has a historical feel to it and that the victim was the former mayor would warrant some interest. Whenever you examine a crime such as this, you must think motive: Why would somebody want these people dead? Who would benefit from them being dead? It is not always a "Whodunit," but a "Whydunit." Knowing the "Why" will automatically take you to the "Who." I developed the Homicide Triangle for motives: Money, Love and Drugs. Not that these are the only motives to kill someone, but they are the three (3) most prevalent found in criminal investigations.

I would make the assumption that because of the victim's ages and the time period, Love would not be a motive, nor would drugs. Money on the other hand is not referred to as the root of all evil for nothing. Money makes people do crazy things. Especially, when inheritors aren't getting it fast enough. Does anyone in this story fit this bill? Victor Handley, the son of J.C.'s from a previous marriage inherited over $300,000 due to the deaths. How much is $300,000 in 1928 worth today? I'm sure millions. According to, J.C. Hundley had also terminated a mining agreement with his son, but doesn't specify the type of mine nor how much it was worth. These would be compelling reasons to resort to murder.

What do you think?

Read the News Article

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