New evidence emerges in 1950 cold case murder of Indiana teacher

Photo of Garnet Ginn published in the newspaper following her death. (The Graphic, Portland IN, March 2, 1950)
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PORTLAND, Ind. (WTHR) – There are new developments in a murder mystery that's haunted the Jay County community of Portland for nearly 70 years.

"I have theories, a person of interest," police investigator Judson Wickey said.

We met Wickey a year ago when he reopened the coldest of cold murder cases. For almost 70 years, no one has been able to say who killed Garnet Ginn.

"The theories I have is the optometrist or the optometrist's wife had it done," Wickey said.

We were with Wickey when he stepped went back to 1950 into the garage where Ginn was found dead. It's within sight of the police department.

It looked like the high school teacher hung herself with a sewing machine belt tied to her car door.

Ginn's body was removed from the garage and taken to a funeral home before the coroner arrived.

There was a funeral, a burial, an exhumation and then an autopsy. It determined Ginn was beaten and murdered. The suicide was staged.

Only then did police begin gathering evidence from a crime scene that curious neighbors had walked through.

Everything police found and reports they had made all disappeared over the passing decades.

The sewing machine belt? "Gone. We don't know where it is," Wickey said.

Fingerprints? Blood samples? "Gone."

Wickey had to rely on newspaper articles and faded memories. He interviewed two people in their 80s who were young teenagers at the time of Ginn's murder.

"They suspected the optometrist and her were having an affair and things didn't go well," Wickey said.

The woman's recollection of the crime scene, the physical description of the suspect, his name, his profession and where he worked in Portland all added up, giving her information credibility, police say.

"A month or so after the murder he moved away," Wickey said.

Did that make you suspicious? "It did, yeah. That's my prime suspect."

The unsolved murder has haunted the small community for generations.

"Not a day goes by that people don't think about this," Mike Nedler said.

The retired state police officer grew up in Portland with the mystery and people's not so private list of suspects.

"Over the years some of them have been maligned or disparaged for no reason at all except rumor and innuendo," Nedler said.

Hopefully the new investigation will restore reputations and right some wrongs.

Wickey tracked both suspects to their graves.

He won't name them because he said there will never be enough evidence to prove their guilt.

The murder case will be closed and remained unsolved. In the death of Garnet Ginn, questions will live on forever.