LEPANTO, AR (KAIT) – Police are hoping technological improvements in DNA testing and other forensic tests can shed new light on an 18-year-old cold case.
According to Poinsett County Sheriff Larry Mills, he met with the new director of the Arkansas State Crime Lab in July to discuss the murder case of Homer and Rosie Woodruff.
Mills said he also met with the same lab technician who analyzed evidence collected from the original crime scene in 1994. He said she will be able to perform additional tests on evidence that may produce new results. Mills said he's hopeful something helpful will turn out.
"I keep this file right here close to me. I don't forget about it. I occasionally pull the file out, and I think, what else can we do?" said Mills. "According to the medical examiner's report, most of the (stab) wounds were an inch to an inch and a quarter. The largest was an inch and seven eighths."
Mills said Homer Woodruff was found dead inside his van in front of his home on Pritchett Drive in Lepanto. He said Rosie's body was found inside the couple's trailer.
"He was actually found in the van kind of in between the seats in a laid back position with multiple stab wounds," said Mills. "Inside the residence, where her body was found, there was evidence of a struggle. There was a broken leg on a table and there were signs of a struggle inside."
Mills said Homer was stabbed nine times with a knife. He said Rosie was stabbed 11 times. He also said two knives were found near the scene of the crime, but did not say if those were the murder weapons.
"We believe that we know who the prime suspects are in this case, but we need someone to come forth with information and we believe that there are people that have this information that we desperately need to solve this case," said Mills. "We included the Arkansas State Police and there were actually three different investigators with the state police that were involved in our investigation. We also involved the prosecutor's office."
"As far as the process of elimination, I can't eliminate anyone," said Mills.
Eddie Brown remembers the day he learned of his brother's death. He said he was working at a granary in Lepanto when he got a phone call.
"The manager of the granary took me back to where they lived at on Pritchett Road out there," said Brown. "I didn't find out they had been stabbed until I got out there on the scene I guess you could say. They wouldn't let me or anybody else go up to where they were at."
Brown said his children grew up not knowing Homer and Rosie.
"I couldn't believe it. Who would have thought something like that would actually happen here in this little town? In knowing that they don't bother anybody and they'd give you the shirt off their back," said Brown. "Who in the world would want to do something like that to them? You know, the whole family, it was a shock to all of us. We couldn't believe we were having to bury them."
Brown said he hopes someone will come forward with information that could help police serve justice.
"It's not a day go by that we don't think about this. It's going to be with us forever, and we just want closure," said Brown. "That's the hardest part about it right there. When my kids look at their picture and ask me something about them, and I have to tell them the best that I could what happened. (When I do that) They kind of just drop their heads. The way kids are, they ask a bunch of questions."
Brown said he answered those questions the best he could.
If you can help police solve this cold case, contact the Poinsett County Sheriff's Office at 870-578-5411.