Unsolved: Who murdered the mysterious man living on Lawnview?
Who killed Frederick Walker isn’t the only unsolved mystery in the case.
SPRINGDALE, Ohio (WXIX) - Two decades after a man was savagely beaten in a violent struggle and killed inside his own home, detectives are working every angle to try to solve the case.
In July 1999, Frederick Walker’s body was found in what detectives have called a brutal and bloody crime scene. Walker’s newspapers had been piling up outside, leading to concern from neighbors. That prompted police to do a welfare check.
“[There were] multiple areas that were where the assault took place, obviously leading to his death,” Jim Grindle, now retired Springdale detective and auxiliary officer, said. “A lot of blood. Eventually, he was dragged down a hallway and strangled at that point in time.”
Grindle said the 67-year-old Walker had been dead for two days inside his home on Lawnview Avenue. The coroner ruled Walker’s cause of death strangulation and blunt force trauma.
“They [suspects] actually left the air conditioner on the house as high as it would go, just so they wouldn’t draw attention down the road,” Grindle said.
Grindle, who was the first investigator on the case, said the home had been ransacked. Officers located Walker’s 1971 Buick, which was for sale at the time, abandoned at Tri-County Mall.
“There was a lot of prep work done,” he said. “The car itself, we super glued the interior portion of that. There was powders used to try to come up with prints. We located some blood evidence on the, the actual brake pedal of the car.”
Detectives also discovered that Walker’s credit cards were missing. They found out someone had been trying to use them at ATM machines in several places, including gas stations in Indianapolis.
“We set up a surveillance up there, where we actually had officers sitting on the gas stations - had one inside and somebody outside,” Grindle said. “So once we found them using them, we would be able to make an arrest.”
Police patrolled the area for about a month before the investigation led them to Carl Travis. He was arrested for using Walker’s stolen cards.
“Well, he [Travis] was associated with a Keystone Autobody up there in Indianapolis, and he claims that he was cleaning his car out, and he found them on a oil can up there, and then later on, it was on the floor, and all the way to the point where his girlfriend at the time, said she found them in her car,” Grindle said. “So there’s different stories as to how he came across the cards.”
Travis, detectives say, has never admitted to being involved in Walker’s murder, and he hasn’t been charged in Walker’s death.
However, police have identified people of interest, and in recent years, different detectives, like Investigative Supervisor Jeff Heard, took a turn reviewing the case.
They have re-submitted evidence for new testing and re-interviewed those who could be involved.
“You’re probably looking at 20 to 30 people that have looked at this case, anywhere from our police department, to neighboring police departments, to BCI. Probably FBI. It’s just, it’s been a collaborative effort to try to get this solved,” Heard said. “I wanted to re-interview some people, especially Mr. Travis, and we wanted to look at some evidence too, because, you know, the advances in crime scene processing, and DNA evidence and things like that.”
The identity of Walker’s killer is not the only mystery in this case. Even 23 years into the investigation, who Walker was and what his life looked like at the time of the crime, remains unknown.
“We don’t know that he’s ever been married. Information we have is he never was. He was never known to have any girlfriends. The only thing about him that we did find out is he did attend a church function for dancing, but even interviewing the people there, he was never seen coming with anybody or leaving, but did participate in some of the dancing,” Grindle said.
Despite detectives’ best attempts to learn more about Walker, all they really know about him is that he was likely a loner. They believe he was not working at the time of his death, but had previously been a substitute teacher. The house he was living in, his parents had paid off.
“It’s always odd when you look at something and you can’t find anybody that really knows your victim. No one that can really shed light on his life, you know, his day to day, anything like that,” Heard said.
Although it is a complex case, complicated by the limited information about Walker, it is one detectives are not giving up on, and they believe all they need is one more piece to solve the two-decades old puzzle.
“There’s a good chance that I think, you know, if we keep reviewing it, keep going over it, and, you know, keep submitting things, that maybe we will get that break that we’re looking for,” Heard said.
Detectives believe two to three people were involved in Walker’s murder. They say some of the potential suspects are still alive, and some are locked up. They have traveled to Georgia to interview some of them.
Anyone with information on the murder of Frederick Walker can call Springdale Police at (513) 346-5760.
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