‘Mind-boggling’ Mount Lookout murder mystery remains unsolved 52 years later

Three members of the Dumler family were murdered in October 1969.
Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 9:52 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - For more than 50 years, the brutal murder of three members of the Dumler family has remained unsolved, making it a cold case.

However, even five decades later, Cincinnati police detectives have said they are not giving up.

Sometime between Oct. 22 and Oct. 23 1969, an unknown killer forced Martin Dumler, his wife, Patricia Dumler, and Patricia’s mother, Mary Wilson, into an upstairs bedroom in the couple’s home and proceeded to tie them up.

The Dumlers lived in a house along Beverly Hill Drive in Mount Lookout.

“The family is trussed up using cords from lights, from televisions, from appliances, electrical cords,” J.T. Townsend, true crime author, said.

Patricia Dumler and Martin Dumler. There are no known photos of the third victim, Mary Wilson.
Patricia Dumler and Martin Dumler. There are no known photos of the third victim, Mary Wilson.(J.T. Townsend/Provided)

Records show all three victims were then shot to death. After shooting them, the gunman removed the constraints he had wrapped around their arms and ankles and temporarily left the crime scene.

“Up to an hour later, the killer returned to the bedroom and stabbed both Martin and Pat in the chest,” Townsend said.

Martin and Patricia’s two young children were asleep downstairs at the time of the murders, but neither child woke up during the incident or was harmed. Townsend said the killer used pillows to silence the gunshots.

“The children, 5 and 4, lived through a horrible massacre, and it’s chilling to think about,” Townsend said. “[Next morning] neighbor said these children came running across the lawn and knocked on her door and said, ‘We can’t wake up mommy and daddy.’”

Lt. Stephenie Fassnacht, Commander of CPD’s Homicide Unit, said the crime scene was essentially wiped clean without any evidence left behind. The only fingerprints investigators found at the scene were linked to the victims.

“(This is) somebody who knows what they’re doing, possibly has done this before or maybe since,” Fassnacht said.

According to investigators, police performed about 20 polygraphs, interviewed at least 100 people and checked on hundreds of tips.

Triple Dumler murders remain unsolved decades later.
Triple Dumler murders remain unsolved decades later.(J.T. Townsend/Provided)

They found there were no signs of forced entry and no indication there was any kind of robbery. Because of those circumstances and because the killer did not harm the children, police believe the murderer knew the family.

Townsend has written several books about true crime in Cincinnati and featured a Dumler chapter in his novel “Queen City Gothic.” He said a CPD detective previously let him review the Dumler file and the crime scene photos.

While looking through the reports, certain information caught Townsend’s attention.

“Two days before the murder, a neighbor’s .38 caliber revolver was stolen from his unlocked vehicle,” he said.

At the time, the Mount Lookout neighborhood was said to be upper-middle class. Wilson was considered a loving grandmother, Patricia was considered a doting mother and Martin was a well-known businessman.

“His father owned a paper company, and Martin was in the process, his father was retiring, so he was going to take over the paper company,” Fassnacht said. “They belonged to, at the time it was called the Cincinnati Country Club. I know there apparently were a lot of parties at their house. There was a group, I want to say it was 30 to 40 people. They all had season tickets to the Bengals game.”

Townsend’s research has led him to three suspect theories:

  • A relative involved with Martin’s workplace;
  • An erratic neighbor who had reportedly just lost his job; or
  • A man with connections to the country club who family members had said was suspicious.

“I don’t think Pat Dumler was the target. The mother-in-law definitely collateral damage,” Townsend said. “Martin Dumler was seen having a discussion on his father’s driveway the day before the murders. Now, his parents were out of town. He was seen having a somewhat agitated conversation with a man on the driveway.”

Police said they cannot point in any one direction.

”His business dealings appeared legit. According to friends and family, the marriage was good. There were no extramarital activities,” Fassnacht said. “Things were good with the kids.”

Detectives did not have much technology available to them at the time of the murders. DNA testing was not yet available, and landline phone records were not yet in existence. Instead, police penned letters to other departments.

“CPD wrote to like Atlanta, they wrote to Los Angeles, asking about the Manson murders that had happened around that time period and any of the people involved in that and if they’ve traveled, so kind of just throwing letters out to these different agencies and seeing if they have anything similar,” Fassnacht said.

However, those leads did not actually lead anywhere. To this day, police say they need more information to solve the case.

Townsend says some of the individuals who were closest to the victims have not helped with the investigation and instead have stayed tight-lipped.

“No member from the Dumler family ever followed up in the subsequent months or years to say ‘how’s the investigation going?’ I find that odd... don’t you?” Townsend posed.

Townsend is not done looking into the Dumler murders and plans to eventually write an entire book about what he has learned about the case.

Cincinnati police said they met with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office recently to see if the Dumler case could be connected to the Bricca family murders from 1966, but as of now, they have ruled that out.

They do say it is possible that more than one killer was involved.

Martin and Patricia’s surviving children have not spoken about the case. One of them passed away in recent years, and the other could not be reached for comment.

In November 2021, Bob Klare, the husband of the late Janie Dumler-Klare, one of Martin and Patricia’s children, shared thoughts on behalf of the Dumler family:

“Mr. Townsend is merely a ‘crime story hobbyist.’ He never has served in any capacity with the Cincinnati Police, and to our knowledge, has no formal experience as a homicide detective. The fact that he is an author does not make him a clinical expert in the field.

Over the years, Mr. Townsend, who has never spoken to a Dumler family member, has made numerous inaccurate and speculative statements about the case. The most egregious comment in this story was his closing comments that stated ‘No member from the Dumler family ever followed up in the subsequent months or years to say ‘how’s the investigation going?’ I find that odd... don’t you?’

As recently as 15 years ago, a tip on the murder was sent into Crime Stoppers. The family diligently worked with the homicide detectives to investigate the lead to its fullest extent. The innuendo and smear that the Dumler family has done anything but be completely supportive of the Cincinnati Police over the last 50 years in every means possible to participate in solving an unimaginable crime is disheartening.”

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