Police in Indianapolis made a big breakthrough in a case that had been open for almost 50 years. The case involved three girls hitchhiking and a guy who detectives said was “hunting” for victims.
The suspect in the horrible attacks on the girls in the field was named at a news conference on Thursday. This gave investigators a clue about what happened decades after the attacks shocked the city. Police and the people he killed called Thomas Edward Williams the “Slasher.” He died in a Galveston, Texas, jail in November 1983, at the age of 49. Williams lived close to where the crime happened at the time.
“This was a horrible act that none of the women deserved,” retired Indianapolis police Sgt. David Ellison said. “I hope today brings you some sort of closure, knowing your attacker has been identified and he’s no longer in this world.”
The girls were walking in Indianapolis in 1975 when a man picked them up. They were 11, 13, and 14 years old. Police say the man took them to a farm in Hancock County and raped and stabbed the youngest girl in the chest and throat. He then cut the throats of the other two girls.
People saw two of the victims on U.S. 40 and picked them up. They took them to a motel and called the police. Later, police found the youngest person still alive in the fields.
Sheri Rottler Trick, Kathie Rottler, and Kandice Smith are the three victims who have been begging police to find out who attacked them. Williams lived close to where the crime happened at the time.
Genealogy tests helped the police solve the case. Swabs from Williams’ daughter and son proved that their DNA matched, which led to his being named as a suspect.
Case Fell Cold After Charges Withdrawn
From the first police officers who arrived at the scene in 1975 to the driver of the car that picked up two girls and the three survivors who have been waiting for answers for almost 50 years, IndyStar, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, has talked to a lot of people.
When Steve Gibbs, who was a detective sergeant with the Marion Co. Sheriff’s at the time, took over the cold case, he told IndyStar in 2018 that this is how the attacker looked. “He was out hunting,” he said. “I don’t want to use the word professional, but he was a hunter… of people. It’s impossible to get out of his car once you get inside.
When he got to the motel scene first, the cop said that the cuts on the girls’ necks looked like accordion strings. Against all chances, the girls lived, and now the hunt for the person who attacked them was on.
The public was asked by police and family members for any hints. From what the girls told the artists, newspaper pieces shared leads and sketched out possible suspects. After following leads and ruling out possible culprits, the investigation came to a stop.
In 2018, Kathie Rottler was put in touch with Ellison from the cold case unit of the Indianapolis Police Department. Ellison agreed to lead the probe. After Ellison chose the case, the women’s DNA was swabbed on January 9, 2019. After the assault and stabbings, there were a lot of calls for help that led to the name of the suspect. The women said that as the years went by, it seemed like their chances of finding an answer decreased.
Kathie Rottler, one of the survivors, said at the news conference on Thursday, “It seemed like every call I made led to another dead end.” The same time, Rottler said she was not going to give up. Kandice Smith said, “I’m at peace now in my heart.”
From a platform, Rottler Trick told Williams how she felt about him. She said, “I forgive this man.” “I had to do it so I could live my life.” I ask anyone else in the same boat to please do the same.”