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crime:beloit murder unsolved after 6 months – carol fleming’s friends, family want to know who killed her in her home



1/14/2010



salina journal, the (ks)-february 16, 2004

        beloit — lawns were pale and thirsty here when carol fleming was murdered aug. 16, 2003.

        now, they’re covered in snow, and little has been released in the search for her killer.

        today marks the six-month anniversary of that night when the 51-year-old widow, mother and local businesswoman was gunned down in her beloit home.

        folks still are wondering who did it and why, said joann schmidt, fleming’s sister.

        “i’ve often wondered if this was going to end up on the ‘cold case files,’ ” she said, referring to a television show that revisits unsolved crimes.

        beloit and mitchell county law enforcement, along with the kansas bureau of investigation, are working on the case, police chief frank gent said sunday. he referred comment to those agencies or mitchell county attorney rod ludwig. they could not be reached friday afternoon or sunday. mitchell county sheriff doug daugherty did not return calls to his home sunday.

        kbi special agent bill pettijohn referred all comment on the case to the bureau’s topeka office.

        schmidt said she was told about a month ago that investigators still were waiting on test results from the kbi laboratory in topeka.

        she is eager to know more.

        “i know i speak for my family and the community that it’s almost gotten to the point of disgust with the law enforcement, that something so blatant like this can happen and our law enforcement gets paid whether this is solved or not,” schmidt said. “who’s going to be out there motivated, digging for the facts to bring it to light?”

        fearing that the trail to her sister’s killer has gone stale, schmidt said she’s speaking to keep the case fresh in the public’s mind.

        “the only way it’s going to get solved is by public awareness of what law enforcement is doing and what the media is doing to put the pressure there,” she said. “it seems so apparent at this time that the law enforcement is not doing much.”

        folks don’t want the case to fizzle, said kathy linden, certified dietary manager at hilltop lodge nursing home and a friend to fleming.

        “they’re also thinking that a first-degree murder should be the number-one priority in town, and it doesn’t seem to be their focus,” she said. “a lot of the older people are afraid that (the suspect) is still just kind of running around beloit free and clear and getting away with it.”

        beloit residents are locking their doors, linden said.

        “if anybody sees a young man walking down the streets, they call the police,” she said. “i really feel like a lot of people are just angry at this point that it’s not getting solved.”

        the local eagles club, where carol fleming was a member, has offered $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the her murderer, said paul abram, a club officer. the offer has never been advertised since it was decided by the club’s board six weeks ago.

        “we don’t even know what to do with it. we’re waiting on a return phone call from law enforcement,” he said. “we don’t know whether to give the money to the sheriff’s department or to the state. we were relying on them to do the reward fund instead of the club itself doing it.”

        to date, no reason for carol fleming’s murder has been discussed by investigators, said chuck fleming, 31, the first of her four sons.

        “i can’t imagine any motive at all. i lived right there,” he said. “i knew what she did. i just can’t fathom why anybody would want to murder her.”

        unlike others in beloit, he’s not complaining about the lack of information from.

        “i’d rather have it be like this than have them rush into something and really screw it up,” chuck fleming said. “they’ve got to weigh everything three or four times and get it right. they only get one chance at it.”

        employed by a local contractor, he said he’s trying to get back into a routine. but it wasn’t easy in the days and weeks following the murder.

        “the first month or so was just rumorville,” he said, “people looking at you, and you’re wondering what they’re thinking.”

        chuck fleming said he was at a local bar until 2 a.m. on the night his mother was killed, before returning to his neighborhood where he visited with residents across the street from the fleming home, 622 e. fourth.

        “i left again to go to try to find a friend’s house. i met him at the bar,” he recalled. “i couldn’t find it, so i went home, and that’s when the cops came in.”

        he said he parked his pickup truck in the garage and “was in the process of feeding the dog when the cops showed up. they took me to the street. there were four or five police cars there, keeping people back, and the ambulance was there.”

        also outside, he said, was rick harris, carol fleming’s boyfriend; harris’s son, david harris; and chad fleming, one of chuck’s three brothers.

        roughly an hour later, he said he and chad fleming caught a ride to the law enforcement center where they were interviewed separately.

        harris, a spray pilot from burr oak, would not discuss the case but echoed community hopes for some resolution.

        “everybody kind of wants to know who and why,” he said. “i hope the law enforcement has made headway on it. i don’t know what they know. i sure hope they get somebody caught one of these days.”

        carol fleming’s home has been sold, chuck fleming said, and it’s being remodeled.

        he said his last contact with law enforcement was about a month ago with pettijohn.

        bob milburn, retired general manager of the beloit daily call newspaper, said the public has a right to know “whether they’ve discontinued the investigation” or if it’s still ongoing.

        “they’ve always said they’re waiting for the lab tests to come back,” he said. “the case is six months old. they should have been back by now.”

        meanwhile, chuck fleming said his mother’s death leaves a major void in his life.

        “she meant the world to me,” he said. “i really didn’t see her as my mom per se. she was really more like a friend.”











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