'48 Hours Mystery' broadcast generates leads on 1992 Benton murder

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
1992 murder victim Mischelle Lawless (Submitted by Scott County Sheriff Department)

Before the "48 Hours Mystery" broadcast on a Benton, Mo., murder case came to a close Saturday, dispatchers at the Scott County Sheriff's Department began receiving phone calls from people with details on the 1992 murder of Angela Mischelle Lawless.

Now, more than two days after the segment, even more e-mails and phone calls have come in, and the information is new, said Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter, giving him and the Lawless family even more hope they will find the real killer.

"Yes, it's encouraging," said Mischelle Lawless' mother Esther, of Benton, in a phone interview Monday. "That's the main reason me and my children did the interview with them."

Lawless, 19 at the time of the murder, was shot three times in her vehicle on the Interstate 55 offramp near Benton.

Walter reopened her case in 2006 after suspecting that Joshua Kezer, who was serving a 60-year prison sentence for the crime, did not murder Lawless.

Kezer was exonerated by a Cole County circuit judge last year and recently celebrated his one-year anniversary of being released from prison.

Walter said the e-mails and phone calls that have come in since Saturday have been from all over the United States.

People are providing the sheriff's department with names Walter said he's never heard before in reference to the case and new dates and times pertaining to the case.

"We've had actually two or three people, they've said this is what we know, can we sit down with you and give a statement? They went so far as to say they'd come to court to testify," Walter said.

While some phone calls have been from people who've heard information from others, the details they've provided is still important, as it can confirm some details already brought forward.

Walter said he asks callers who've heard details of the murder from others to provide him with contact information of the person who originally told them what they know.

Walter said he's making arrangements to meet with individuals who've called saying they have new details in the Lawless murder.

"Some of them are not local, some of them are from the area. It's not something I can get done in a day or two. It's going to take some time," Walter said. "I really, really appreciate people coming forward."

ehevern@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent address:

Benton, MO

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