'We just need answers'

Monday, February 11, 2008
Kathy Wallis of Patton, Mo., held a picture taken in 2003 with her husband, Richard Wallis, a few months before he was struck and killed Feb. 10, 2004, by the driver of a semitrailer in a construction zone near mile marker 17 on Interstate 55. (Fred Lynch)

PATTON, Mo. -- For the past four years, Kathy Wallis of Patton has waited, hoping authorities will find the person responsible for a hit-and-run accident that took the life of her husband, Richard.

Now, along with the state police and the Southeast Missouri CrimeStoppers, she's posting a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of that person.

"We just need answers," Kathy Wallis said of herself and her two sons.

The accident occurred Feb. 10, 2004, in the construction zone where Richard Wallis worked, near mile marker 17 on Interstate 55.

A witness described the suspect vehicle as a white Freightliner with two black two-inch wide stripes on the cab's side, and the letters "TLI" on the back door of the trailer, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Richard Wallis

The truck sped from the accident in a southbound direction.

"It has been four years since the time of this incident, and we are relying on the help of the public to solve this case," said Lt. Kyle Marquart of the highway patrol.

Kathy Wallis said every time she goes into town, she fields questions from sympathetic friends of her husband, wanting to know if there are any new leads in the investigation.

There haven't been.

Several tips have come in, but police have still been unable to trace the TLI logo to a company, Kathy Wallis said.

A billboard in Hayti, Mo., near the hospital where Richard Wallis was pronounced dead after the accident, informs travelers about the case and invites them to contact authorities with information.

"It's like an ongoing crime, every day," said Kathy Wallis.

She said she met Richard at a church teens group. She was 15 and he was 16.

"Neither one of us ever dated anyone else," she said.

The couple would have celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in June 2004.

Richard Wallis had been a minister with United Methodist Church, and "helped anybody and everybody," Kathy Wallis said.

"He was one of those people when you met that you never forget," she said.

Police are hopeful the reward will entice anyone with information to come forward, Marquart said.

CrimeStoppers chairman Mitch Robinson said police will continue to develop any leads pointing to an arrest and conviction of the individual responsible for the accident.

"We want to see justice delivered for this family," he said.

Anyone with information can call Sgt. Dale Moreland at the highway patrol at 573-778-5595, or CrimeStoppers at 332-0500.

bdicosmo@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245

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