Naming the Dead: Luther and Vicky

In the age of DNA testing and networked computer databases, it’s a bit of a shock to learn that a few corpses have turned up in Marion County over the last twenty five years which remain unidentified.

Luther

On July 19th, 1989, a few kids were paddling down Flat Run Creek in Tully Township when they spotted shoes in the brush along the creek’s edge. Maneuvering their canoe a little closer, they realized the shoes were attached to a body.

The Ohio State University anthropology department reconstructed Luther’s face but to no avail.

Removing the man’s remains from the creek, law enforcement almost immediately suspected that he was a murder victim. For starters there was no I.D. on the man nor could investigators find a boat or car belonging to him. An autopsy later provided more substantial evidence supporting foul play. Specifically, former Marion County coroner Dr. Robert Gray told the Columbus Dispatch in 1992 that he believed, “the man died of a .22-caliber bullet wound to the larynx.” Although the sheriff’s department ran down “hundreds” of leads, the identity of the man – by now investigators were referring to him as “Luther” – remained a mystery.

In 2007, however, the sheriff’s department tried one more time to find out Luther’s identity. The plan was to extract a DNA sample from Luther’s remains and submit it, along with his physical description, to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. The NCIC is a database containing a vast amount of crime-related information, and the hope was that Luther’s profile would match one the thousands already on file. Unfortunately, Luther’s profile didn’t generate any hits, and his identity remains unknown to this day.

Vicky

How Vicky may have looked while alive. Investigators called her “Vicky” because her bones were discovered on Victory Road just south of Linn-Hipsher Road.

On March 10th, 2007, nearly 18 years after Luther was found, Larry Higgins Jr. was out poking around in the brush near Victory Road. The area has always been a popular illegal dumping site, and Mr. Higgins was hoping to find some metal he could scrap. Instead he found what he initially mistook for a Halloween decoration. As he got closer, though, he realized that the skull he had spotted was, in fact, real.

On March 14th, 2007, Marion County Sheriff Tim Bailey announced at a press conference that they were certain only that the skeleton was that of a young woman. As was the case with Luther, investigators also suspected that she was a homicide victim. An attempt to match her with a missing person listed on the NCIC database, however, yielded no hits.

Officially, the Luther and Vicky cases remain open (though very cold). Still, there’s always the possibility that a crucial piece of evidence will come to light or that someone with information will come forward. And then we will at last learn the names Luther and Vicky had when alive rather than the names given to them in death.

_____

“Body Found Here.” The Marion Star 20 July 1989: 1A.

Dreitzler, Bob. “Marion County Coroner for 35 Years Swaps Job with Assistant.” The Columbus Dispatch 6 April 1992: 02B.

Edwards, Randall. “Help Needed to Identify Dead Man.” The Columbus Dispatch 28 August 1989: 04D.

“Identity of Body not Determined.” The Marion Star 21 July 1989: 1A.

Peppard, Bevin. “Dump Hunt Uncovered More Than Just Trash.” The Marion Star 13 March 2007: 1A.

Peppard, Bevin. “Sheriff: Bones Thought to be Female.” The Marion Star 15 March 2007: 1A.

Peppard, Bevin. “What happened to ‘Luther’?” The Marion Star 20 May 2007: 1A.

“Skeletal Remains Found in County.” The Marion Star 11 March 2007: 1A.

Marion’s Ruins: A Photo Essay

Like a lot of cities across America, Marion has its share of neglected and decaying buildings and houses. Since we, the spooks at Spooky Marion, are enamored with all things neglected and decaying, we thought it would be interesting to put together a collection of photographs documenting a few of these places as well as their stories.

While some of the structures pictured here are probably still salvageable – local landmarks like the Union Station and the Harding Hotel are proof that such run-down buildings can be restored and put to good use – others are probably beyond saving and will be demolished in the coming years. Of course, this is especially unfortunate for the buildings that are historically significant

These photos are by no means a comprehensive collection of Marion’s “ruins” but rather the beginning of a collection we hope will grow. That said, anyone with photos (new or old), ideas for photos or information about photos already shown here should leave a comment below or drop us a line at spooks@spookymarion.com. Last but not least, a special thanks to Kirk Wyckoff, who was kind enough to contribute many of the photos shown below.

This once-grand house, located at 247 North Prospect Street, originally belonged to the Kellys, a prominent local family that later included Judge Robert Kelly. According to local resident, Phyllis Ingmire, the Kelly family had the house built in the 1870s. It is now a rental property. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
The construction of the Prospect and State Street overpasses in the 1960s made many of the houses on both streets less desirable places to live, and many have fallen into disrepair. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
This house, located on the corner of Blaine Avenue and West Church Street, has certainly seen better days. However, the craftsmanship that went into its construction is still evident even now. It must have been a sight to behold at one time.
Founded in 1904 by W.H. Houghton, the Houghton Sulky Company built world-class sulkies (lightweight, two-wheeled carts, usually horse-drawn) for 103 years before finally closing its doors in 2007 due to financial difficulties. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
In his book about Marion, Stuart Koblentz writes that the oldest part of the building was originally a Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church. However, after Marion’s rail lines were built, the location was no longer suited for quiet church services. The structure was later used as an industrial manufacturing space, first by the Huber Manufacturing Company and later by the Houghton Sulky Company. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
An advertisement for Houghton Sulky that appeared in Time Magazine on March 15th, 1937, stated: “Houghton Sulky – Proudly manufacturing the world’s finest quality show horse vehicles. Quality is a hallmark of Houghton training and show vehicles. Traditional quality is a blend of elegance of design, the highest quality materials, and demanding standards of craftsmanship. Houghton Sulky carries a full line of carts for horses, ponies, and miniature horses.” Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
According to Aaron Turner’s website Old Ohio Schools, the Tully Township School out in Martel was built in 1915 but closed its doors in 1987. The building, however, is not abandoned. When this photograph was taken in late 2012, people were living in at least part of the building. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
The Tully Township School shortly after its completion. Photo courtesy of Aaron Turner.
The former Courtesy Budget Inn, located at 1361 Harding Highway East, was once a modestly priced motel but has been sitting derelict for the past few years. The rooms that occupied the east side of the complex have already been razed, and it seems reasonable to assume that the rest will not escape the wrecking ball much longer. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
The motel is located in a heavily-trafficked part of Marion, a fact that’s likely to appeal to developers in the coming years. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
The Courtesy Budget Inn during its more respectable days. Photo courtesy of Randy Winland.
Although originally a Mansfield-based company, the Isaly name played a part in Marion life for many years. This particular building, located at 202 North Prospect Street, is all that remains of a group of buildings that housed the dairy plant as well as the Isaly offices. Photo courtesy of Larry Henne.
Brian Butko, author of Klondikes, Chipped Ham, & Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly’s, writes that this particular location was in use from 1915 to 1947. He goes on to write that the Isaly brand began to decline in the 1960s and disappeared completely from Marion in the 1990s when The Isaly Shoppe went out of business. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
This building, located at the end of Rose Avenue (past the halfway house), is a bit of a mystery. Although the words “Steam Shovel Co.” are still visible on the west side of the building, its purpose and when it was in operation remain unclear.
The same building seen from the east or Leader Street side.