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Detectives continue investigating brutal Bricca family murders five decades later

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 10:04 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - One of Cincinnati’s most notorious cold cases remains unsolved more than 50 years later.

On September 25, 1966, Gerald “Gerry” Bricca was last seen taking out the trash at his family home on Greenway Avenue on the city’s West Side.

Two days later, neighbors noticed papers had been piling up at the home, and thought it seemed suspicious.

Detectives were notified and responded to the house where they found Gerry, his 23-year-old wife Linda and the couple’s four-year-old daughter Debbie, dead.

“They [investigators] decided the killer knew the family. No forced entry, no defensive wounds, no signs of a struggle, two very aggressive dogs were neutralized,” J.T. Townsend, an author who wrote about the murders, said.

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1967 article about the Bricca murders.
1967 article about the Bricca murders.(J.T. Townsend)

According to initial reports, Gerry and Linda were dead in their bedroom. Both had been stabbed multiple times in the chest, neck and face, and both had been bound at some point in time. Gerry still had a sock stuffed in his mouth.

Debbie, who was found in her bedroom, had also been killed with a knife.

“Who would have the ability to murder a 4-year-old? That’s, wow. I don’t know. I don’t even want to even think about the kind of mind frame you have to be able to do that,” Hamilton County Detective Brian Williams said.

Reports over the years have stated Debbie was very precocious and may have been a target because she could have potentially identified the killer(s).

Author J.T. Townsend admits he has developed an obsession with the unsolved case. He said he has seen the crime scene photos, read the police reports and thought through numerous theories.

He has also written a book about the homicides titled “Summer’s Almost Gone.”

“It’s 1966, you have this grisly triple homicide that literally swamped the Hamilton County investigators,” Townsend said. “They were, no offense to them, because they worked hard to solve this with the tools they had in 1966, they were overmatched by a cunning killer, who left very few clues. We’re talking an alpha male predator here that did this crime.”

Through his research, Townsend said he learned that Gerry, a mechanical engineer, and Linda, a former airline stewardess, did not appear to have a happy marriage around the time of their murders.

That has led to talk of a possible love triangle and debate over an alleged affair.

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Gerald "Gerry" Bricca and his wife Linda Bricca, both victims, seen on their wedding day.
Gerald "Gerry" Bricca and his wife Linda Bricca, both victims, seen on their wedding day.(J.T. Townsend)

“Nobody knew what DNA was. Still, physical evidence in, in Bricca, was preserved well enough that they have a DNA tripod, consisting of Marlboro cigarette butts, human hair found clutched in Linda Bricca’s hand and seminal fluid that was taken from Linda Bricca,” Townsend said. “That was either from a rape or consensual intercourse, and they never were able to determine was she raped the night of the murder.”

Speculation about the case has not stopped through the years. Townsend said he has even looked into reports of connections to a satanic cult, despite initially laughing it off as an outrageous rumor.

The cult supposedly sacrificed animals and worked with veterinarians. That is a group Townsend says Linda, an animal lover, would have stood against.

“I had seven different people that didn’t know each other, seven people unrelated to each other, named this individual, as the man who got rid of Linda Bricca, because she was about to expose what this group was doing,” Townsend said. “To cut through the rumors of this case really takes a disciplined mind, but if you saw my reaction about the satanic cult when I first got it, huh, I’m not laughing about that now because there’s too many credible things that have shown up.”

As for detectives, Williams said despite doing more than 300 interviews, they do not have a sole suspect or a specific motive.

Although Williams did not confirm whether they have tested DNA found at the crime scene, he did say they are hoping new technology and advancements in testing could help.

“Science in itself is, is growing in different ways and fashions,” Williams said. “They didn’t have DNA back then. Well, we’ve got DNA now. Is that going to assist us? Maybe.”

It is possible the person, or people, who took the lives of the Briccas may no longer be alive, but for investigators, solving the case remains a priority.

“[We] are currently looking into things. I can’t say whether it’s going to lead to an arrest. I can’t say whether it’s going to lead to us solving this, but I can say that some of the stuff we’ve been told or some of the stuff that we’re hearing, are new to us,” Williams said.

Detective Williams said they do not have enough information to point to any of Townsend’s theories as absolutely true or untrue. They also cannot say with certainty whether there was one killer, or multiple killers.

Townsend said he remains focused on trying to help solve the case, not only through his novels, but through a website and Facebook group.

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