Like many in Cape Girardeau, the families and friends of Mary and Brenda Parsh, Sheila Cole, Margie Call and Mildred Wallace already knew before Monday's news conference that someone had confessed to killing the five women some three decades ago. For the 100 or so family members, friends, neighbors and law enforcement officers who worked to solve the murders, the overwhelming feeling Monday was one of relief that the crimes had been solved.
"For the family members of the victims of these crimes, there can never really be justice," said Cape Girardeau police chief Carl Kinnison.
Timothy Wayne Krajcir, an inmate in the Illinois prison system since 1983, has confessed to killing the women. Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said the Parsh and Cole families were not present at the news conference because they thought it would be too disturbing.
Last summer, police matched Krajcir with DNA evidence and a palm print recovered in Wallace's home but had little to connect him to the other four killings though they suspected he was involved.
Wallace has no remaining blood relatives. So Teresa Haubold, whose uncle Bill was Wallace's brother, was called on to decide whether to forgo pursuing the death penalty against Krajcir in exchange for his confessions. "It was a very easy decision to make for me and for my uncle. We knew they would have closure," she said, referring to the other families.
Nearly 20 members of Margie Call's family met in Cape Girardeau Thanksgiving weekend to discuss the news that Margie Call's killer had been found. They agreed with and welcomed Haubold's decision.
Don Call, a semi-retired school superintendent who lives in southwest Missouri, said police kept him and his late brother, Gary, informed of any new developments about their mother's case. At one time police had a theory that the letter "M" had a role in the killings because three of the victims' names began with the letter.
Both Don and Gary felt a sense of guilt that they were living in other cities when their mother was killed, Don said.
"This does not erase it," he said. "It solves that particular part of the problem."
Ninety-two-year-old Missouri Veterans Home resident Mike Stafford attended the news conference. His wife's sister was married to Wallace's brother, and he knew Margie Call. "I am just relieved we know who it was," he said.
Vicki Abernathy was there with a photograph of herself and Brenda Parsh when they were at the Watermelon Queen beauty contest at the end of the 1960s. Brenda was the retiring queen and Abernathy was a contestant. "If ever there was an example of a beautiful specimen of humanity it was Brenda Parsh," Abernathy said. "She would have made a difference in the world."
Monday was an emotional day, said Haubold, an administrative assistant to Cape Girardeau's interim school superintendent. She grew up in the same neighborhood where the Parsh and Call murders occurred. She had gone to school with Brenda Parsh and Brenda's sister Karen. "I cannot give the Cape police department past and present enough thanks for never giving up on these individuals, for keeping them alive, for giving us this gift of peace," she said.
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