Our Dad, Murray Griffin, was the 64 year old police chief in Belle Center, OH. He had been the police for 25 years and made $25 per WEEK for this position. He did it because it needed to be done and because their house payment was $90 per month. He also picked up the trash, plowed snow, patched the streets, etc., as his real job. The general “man about town” of the village of 900 population.
About 11:20 PM the phone rang and it was a man who said that he was on the phone with Phyllis Mullet and she started screaming for help. He hung up and called information for the police department number and was given my mom and dads phone number. He also called the Sheriff’s Department in the county.
Murray got off the phone and went in and put on his boots and his gun belt and left in the family car. He told my mom that he would be right back, there was a problem at Mullets house. Neither one thought much about it, because Murray had been down there before.
Murray left the house and the phone rang again and it was the Sheriff’s department. They told my mom that there was a problem at Mullets and for Murray to wait for them. They were sending back up. Mom told them that he had already left. The Mullet house was about 3 blocks from my parents house, so it took Murray only a couple minutes to get there from the time of the first call.
The Sheriff’s Department arrived 10 minutes later and before entering the house, which was dark, they went down the street two houses and asked the hood on the front porch what was going on at the Mullet house. He gave them the run a round for a few minutes and then they finally went to the Mullet house. In the meantime, my mom and sister started hearing the police radio in the kitchen come alive. They were reporting the code for Officer down, calling for search dogs, and calling for all personal to respond and for BCI to be called.
Shortly after, the Sheriff came to the door along with the lead detective and told my mom that Murray and Phyllis were dead. She was tied up, beat, raped, stabbed and her throat was cut in the kitchen downstairs. Murray was shot in the left knee, stomach, shoulder and middle of the back with his own gun and it was missing. He was found upstairs at the top of the steps. None of her blood was upstairs and none of his was downstairs.
Thus the nightmare began for us…
Someone in the town called the ex-husband who left his apartment at the lake (10 miles away) and headed for Belle Center. He was stopped and taken in for questioning. The search and investigation basically ended at that point while the hubby was being questioned. He had an alibi…he was at his apartment in bed, with his children in the other room.
Rumors started flowing around the town of 900 people who knew and loved Murray. The family listened to all of them and reported them all to the police.
The police knew nothing. One day they got a call from a man in Belle Center, who was the father of Terry Lowe. He said that Terry had written a suicide note and he feared for his son’s life. The Sheriff’s Department went to investigate and found pictures of the woman who was killed and her children. They also found a list of women around town that Terry had contact with. They read the suicide note and determined that he went to the lake. Instead of leaving all the evidence and getting a search warrant, they asked the dad if they could take the things in that they found. The dad ok’d it, so they took the stuff then went to the lake to look for Terry. They found his car, locked with his wallet and keys on the front seat. They began to drag the lake. The suicide note said, “I can’t take it anymore and am going to go away.” They spent three days dragging the lake and coming up empty. Next a phone call came that the Greenville Police Dept., on the Indiana/Ohio border, found a charge card belonging to Raymond Lowe, father of Terry, laying in the middle of the street. They sent a detective to Greenville who found Terry in a hotel. They brought him back to Ohio and questioned him on the faked suicide and the murders. He denied both and they let him go. He moved to Arizona and became a maintenance man for an apartment complex.
Four years later they brought him back and charged him with the murders. The pre-trial motion hearings started and then the next nightmare began…
During the two years that the pretrial motion hearings were going on, the family sat back and watched the whole case fall apart. Evidence was obtained illegally and an FBI expert witness was not allowed to testify. The accused admitted “doing things” to the woman’s daughter, but as the Defense attorney pointed out, “the accused was not on trial for being a pervert, he was on trial for a double murder.”
There were many motions brought and denied and two years later, they dropped all the charges and let the accused go free.
Within a year after the murders, the Sheriff resigned, the deputy who found the bodies resigned and went into nursing. The lead detective retired.
This is the story of our father. As of 1999, it has been 13 years, with no hope of a resolution. Our family has gone on. We had no choice. One thing that did help me through all of this was that the moment Murray stopped breathing, the killer got away with killing him. Nothing the judicial system could have done to the killer would have helped our family. It would have only helped the next family that this person comes across. I have also been determined to not let the killer take any more from me. He got away with killing Murray. We couldn’t have stopped him and we can’t bring Murray back. All we can do is take what we have left in our lives and hang on to that. By trying to be kinder, more helpful people, Murray and Phyllis did not die in vain.
Perhaps if someday, someone reads this and knows something to help the police, they can contact me.
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