Cops See Break in 1971 New Hampshire Murder

Shaky confession, dogged police work could solve killing of Kathy Gloddy, 13.

October 29, 2009, 10:57 AM

Oct. 30, 2009 — -- Autumn brings a chilling memory for many residents of Franklin, N.H. It's the time of year when Kathy Gloddy, 13 at the time, vanished in broad daylight almost 40 years ago.

Hopes for solving the case have dwindled over time. But new developments -- and the involvement of a private investigator -- could mean the mystery is finally on the verge of being cracked.

In late November 1971, Kathy left her home on a trip to a store for ice cream. In tow was her constant companion, a German shepherd named Tasha. When Tasha returned home and Kathy did not, family members grew concerned.

"The dog climbed up on the doors and was clawing at the door, just scratching at the door to get in," Karen Gloddy, one of Kathy's sisters, told ABC News. "The dog ran around the house, searching for her."

Stricken with panic, the family set out to find Kathy.

"That night we called the police, we called friends, we called the neighbors -- all night long we searched," said Janet Gloddy, another sister.

When Kathy's family called the police, they were told that they had to wait at least 24 hours to report Kathy missing. Without the benefit of current-day Amber Alerts, the Gloddys were left to search alone that first night.

The next day, the family learned that Kathy's lifeless and naked body had been dumped in a patch of woods just a mile-and-a-half away. She had been raped and killed. But police had no suspects or leads.

"To think that she was left there, you know?" said Karen Gloddy. "In the cold of a dark winter's night and with no clothes on. And what had happened to her just came crashing down. It was really hard.

"My mom was sobbing. My dad was crying. I just stood in the doorway and I said, 'What's wrong?' And they just blurted out they found Kathy and she's dead, she's been murdered."

Tom Shamshak is a private investigator whose pro bono work on the case has given the Gloddy family new hope.

"This was a savage killing," he told ABC News. "It's one of the most heinous crimes that I have encountered in my 31 years of professional experience."

A hunter passing through the forest spied Kathy's body, clothed only in a pair of knee socks, and thought, at first, it was a deer carcass.

"That's not what you expect in a little town, that she had been brutally raped and murdered," said Karen Gloddy.

As the years passed, the family learned more and more details from that tragic night.

Kathy had been strangled and suffered a deadly blow to the head. An automobile had run her over four times.

Gloddy Family's Life: 'It Wasn't Living'

The community was at a loss as to who could have committed such a savage crime -- and why.

"She had a good reputation; she was loved by family, and was never in any type of trouble," said Shamshak.

Early on in the investigation, police pursued numerous suspects, to no avail.

"This case would have been solved if that crime happened today, given modern forensic techniques," said Will Delker, New Hampshire's senior assistant attorney general. "DNA samples would have been obtained, and it would have been very quick to determine who the actual perpetrator was. Unfortunately, this was no one's fault. It's just the reality of technologies that existed almost 40 years ago."

Kathy's parents were never the same after the murder, said Karen Gloddy.

"It was almost like your parents checked out; they lived day by day but it wasn't living," she said. "It wasn't life."

The Gloddy family would face more death. One of Kathy's older siblings, Richard, passed away from a congenital heart defect. Kathy's father, Earl Gloddy, died from cancer in 1992. Her mother, Lucille Gloddy, committed suicide in 1997.

"As kids, it hurt tremendously that she had done that [committed suicide] and I had to pray to forgive her, but it still hurts," said Karen Gloddy.

Now, authorities say they may be close to solving Kathy's murder the old-fashioned way.

"Many of these cold cases are solved because people come forward and say, 'I know something,'" said Delker, "and recently, people have been coming forward and some of the information that they've been providing has, in fact, been valid, reliable information."

One of the most important pieces of the puzzle were new clues that began to point to a man who lived near the Gloddys.

"Ed Dukette lived in an apartment above the Gloddy family home," said Shamsak. "He had lived there with his wife and young child, and occasionally Kathy or one of the sisters would be asked to babysit."

The arrangement ended, Karen Gloddy said, when Dukette tried to molest her.

"His wife had left and I was babysitting, and [he] carried me to his bed and he tried to sexually molest me, but I was able to get away before he could do anything," said Gloddy.

'I Think I Need to Be Arrested'

Karen was 13 at the time. She never told anyone about the alleged assault until 1983, when the investigation was temporarily reopened and Dukette's name came up.

"We didn't know his background 'til years down the road, what a wicked man he was," said Karen Gloddy.

Authorities discovered that Dukette had been in California prior to Kathy's murder -- and that he was wanted for a terrible crime. Dukette was accused in California of imprisoning and raping a young girl after luring her with a babysitting job, Delker said.

"Once she arrived at the apartment, there was no babysitting job," he said. "Instead, over the course of more than a day, [Dukette] kept her confined at that apartment, physically abused her and raped her repeatedly over the course of that time and then, ultimately, she was allowed to leave. ... She reported that to her mother and ultimately to the police."

With a warrant out for his arrest, Dukette fled California for New Hampshire, where he arrived just before Kathy was murdered.

Shamshak said no one had connected the dots about Dukette. New Hampshire police at the time had no knowledge of the California warrant and were unsure of Dukette's whereabouts at the time of Kathy's murder.

State officials now say there wasn't enough evidence to make an arrest, there were a number of suspects who police were pursuing and they believed that others could have been involved.

Then, three years ago, a big break came from an unexpected corner.

In March 2006, a man walked into the Dixie County Police Department in Florida and spoke with Officer Dean Miller.

"He said, 'I think I need to be arrested, because I killed somebody,'" Miller recalled.

The man said his name was Ed Dukette. He described the Kathy Gloddy case -- but his jumble of recollections did not quite match the facts. New Hampshire detectives traveled to Florida to question the suspect.

"He then backtracked on some of the statements he said by claiming that the admissions to being involved in this murder were a result of medication," said Delker.

Specifically, Dukette told police medication from a recent spinal tap had made him confused.

Without the admission they had hoped for, police began to go at the case from other angles. They made a shocking discovery. The same year Kathy Gloddy was killed, Dukette's father, Earl Dukette, was convicted of statutory rape. Among those who sat on the jury in the case was Earl Gloddy, Kathy's father.

Following the conviction, Gloddy evicted Ed Dukette from the Gloddy home.

"Now you've got a father and a son angry at my dad," said Karen.

Unanswered Questions

On Aug. 13 of this year, Ed Dukette, 66, died in hospice care of lung and liver ailments. In his later years, he'd found religion. He had a copy of the Ten Commandments on the lawn in front of his Florida trailer. Police think that when he walked into the Dixie County precinct three years ago, he was a dying man looking for redemption.

Kathy Gloddy's murder investigation remains open. Authorities say that even if Dukette were guilty, he may not have acted alone. Police still are watching 15 persons of interest in the case.

The Gloddy sisters say they will continue to pursue justice and give a voice to Kathy.

"There are still some unanswered questions," said sister Ann Gloddy. "Maybe they'll never be answered for us, but closure will be the day when I can hold her hand once again and be with her. That'll be full peace and full closure."

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events