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Published: Thursday, 12/28/2006

'80 North Toledo murders still unsolved

BY CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Fred and Louise Tucker of Flint, Mich., were married at the Lucas County Courthouse just days before they were murdered. Fred and Louise Tucker of Flint, Mich., were married at the Lucas County Courthouse just days before they were murdered.
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Dorothy Jackson said her brother and his wife, who were slain 26 years ago and dumped in North Toledo, are always in her family's conversations.

Relatives talk about Fred Tucker, a former Flint, Mich., city councilman, and his new bride, Louise, whose bodies were found here along on Creekside Avenue near Sylvania Avenue on Dec. 19, 1980.

"I would love for them to find out who did it. The whole family who is alive would," said Mrs. Jackson, 76, of Texas. "We don't believe they'll find out who did it."

The Flint Violent Crime Task Force hopes otherwise.

The bodies of Fred and Louise Tucker were found in this landfill off Creekside Avenue in North Toledo in December, 1980.
The bodies of Fred and Louise Tucker were found in this landfill off Creekside Avenue in North Toledo in December, 1980.
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The task force is looking at the case evidence, including bindings used to tie up the newlyweds - who were married at the Lucas County courthouse in Toledo seven days before their bodies were found - for possible DNA and fingerprints. It is interviewing people again who knew the couple and who worked the initial case.

Authorities don't know why the couple was brought to Toledo, but they hope people here have some answers.

"It was out of the ordinary, the way they were found. Then, to transport them? You're running a risk of transporting a body - two bodies - for 100 miles when you could easily dump them [in Flint]," task force Sgt. Greg Hosmer said. "What purpose did it serve?"

The Tuckers' bodies were found under cardboard boxes in brush off Creekside, dumped before snow blanketed the area. They were gagged, their hands and feet were bound, and pillowcases and plastic bags were over their heads.

Sketch of possible suspect Sketch of possible suspect
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Mr. Tucker, a 49-year-old businessman whose interests included real estate and construction, was accused but later cleared of using maintenance workers at a Flint hospital to repair rental housing he owned. He was murdered in the suit he wore four days earlier to the wake for his first wife, who died after a lengthy illness.

The new Mrs. Tucker, 33, also called "Bobbie," was found in a robe; her hair in curlers.

Both died of suffocation. Although Mrs. Tucker had a cut on her head, authorities believe she may have sustained the injury during a struggle before she was killed and that it didn't directly contribute to her death.

Mr. Tucker was last seen about 11 p.m. Dec. 15, 1980. He didn't show for his ex-wife's funeral the next day. A check of the Tuckers' Flint home found forced entry to the back door and Mr. Tucker's car missing.

Sergeant Hosmer said there was evidence of a struggle at the home. A bed sheet and two pillowcases were missing from the bed. Strips of binding cord were found and things were overturned in the kitchen area. But nothing - not even Mr. Tucker's wallet - was taken.

"He must have walked in and interrupted whatever was going on or they were waiting for him, because his phone lines had been cut - twice," Sergeant Hosmer said. "It's my assumption [the murder attempt] failed the first time."

Police later found Mr. Tucker's car in another part of Flint. The sergeant said he believes it was initially used in the crime, but another vehicle ultimately carried the couples' bodies to Toledo.

In April, 1981, a possible witness was located and helped with a suspect composite. Sergeant Hosmer believes the suspect and vehicle description, given a quarter-century ago, is still credible.

Both suspects were black. The man in the sketch was 30 to 40 years old at the time of the murders, stood 5 feet, 10 inches tall, had a stocky build, and dark complexion. There was no description of the second man.

A brown, full-size, late 1970s model vehicle with a dark top may have been used to haul the bodies to Toledo. The license plate had three letters, one of them possibly an R, followed by the numbers 037. It was white with what were believed to be red letters. It may have been an Ohio license plate, the sergeant said, possibly before the state transitioned to a newer plate.

Tom Ross, now a Lucas County prosecutor's investigator, was among the Toledo police detectives who investigated the case at the time. He remembers how relieved he and other detectives - already overwhelmed with their own homicide cases - were to learn the murders occurred elsewhere.

That year, Toledo's murder rate peaked at 60 homicides.

"We were up to our chins in homicides," Mr. Ross recalled. "We were strained to our limits."

Mr. Ross didn't know why the Tuckers were brought to Toledo, but he said it wasn't unusual for the city to be a dumping ground for bodies from other areas.

A member of the cold-case team that achieved prosecution of Father Gerald Robinson in the 1980 murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, Mr. Ross agreed with Flint task force members that there is a chance the Tuckers' murders can be solved.

"There's always a chance with new science - things that weren't available in 1980," he said. "With time, you get reluctant witnesses who soften."

That's what Mrs. Jackson hopes will happen in the slaying of her brother, whom she called "the backbone" of her family.

"If I could hear anything about whoever killed him that would be, oh, something great," she said. "I know nothing's impossible."

Anyone with information is asked to call the Flint Crime Stopper program at 1-800-422-5245. A reward of up to $1,000 is available for information leading to an arrest.

Contact Christina Hall at:

chall@theblade.com

or 419-724-6007.



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