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FLASHBACK: A case growing cold, another in the deep freeze - Odessa American: Opinions

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FLASHBACK: A case growing cold, another in the deep freeze

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Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2014 7:45 am

On Thursday, Aug. 28, Hailey Darlene Dunn would have been 17 years old. She should have been finishing up her first week as a senior at Colorado High School. She should have been giggling with friends on her cell phone, cheering on her the Wolves and going out for sodas after the game.

But she is not. Hailey disappeared Dec. 27, 2010 – when she was only 13. Her remains were found in March of 2013 – near Lake J.B. Thomas. And now, as her remains languish in an FBI lab and her mother Billie Jean Dunn awaits the day when she can bury her daughter. So far, no one, not even her mother’s former boyfriend, Shawn Adkins, has been arrested or charged with the crime. Now ice is forming and the case is getting frosty.

Let’s hope the Hailey Dunn case does not go frozen, like the murder of 18-year-old Carmen Melinda Croan, Aug. 23, 1981.

Carmen was a Permian High School graduate when she was brutally murdered. Her severely mutilated body was found around noon that day, near a pump jack in north Odessa. An autopsy at the time revealed that she had been repeatedly stabbed with a fixed blade knife.

Reports from the OA at the time indicate she was last seen alive at 11:30 p.m. at Graham Central Station, then located on Eighth Street (where Lowe’s Grocery store is now). Her 1971 Ford Grand Torino was later found in the parking lot. As a result, bar owner Herb Graham, the OA reported, offered a $10,000 reward. Nineteen days after her body was discovered, a set of blood stained men’s clothing were found two miles from the crime scene.

But that reward would never be given to anyone, because in December, the grand jury indicted a New Mexico drifter named Murray Galloway on murder charges.

This case had many twists and turns some of which were witnessed by Sheriff Mark Donaldson, then an investigator for the S.O. The investigation into Galloway started when he was arrested in October for kidnapping a 28-year old man named Steven Lee Compton. The investigation would lead to the exhumation of Croan’s body and the testimony of a drifter and sometimes partner in crime, Lonnie Lee Crago. But in a weird twist, the state’s case took a hit, because Crago, their key witness, died in an apparent suicide, after his head was crushed by an oilfield pump jack.

During the trial against Galloway, the prosecution tried to introduce bite mark evidence. Dr. Richard Souviron and Dr. Homer Campbell, two experts, reviewed photographic materials taken three months after Carmen’s murder from her exhumed body. The exhumation had taken place on November 12, 1981.

“I was there when they exhumed the body,” Sheriff Mark Donaldson said during a recent interview.

The point was to look at the bite mark to see if it matched Galloway’s impression. Dr. Homer Campbell, a dental expert hired by the prosecution, said the bite marks matched the general pattern of Galloway’s teen. But it would be Dr. Richard Souviron, a Coral Gables, Fla., Odontologist, who’s expert testimony sent serial killer Ted Bundy to death row, that disagreed and provided the evidence that eventually resulted in the dismissal of the case against Galloway. He was eventually released.

“I was there when they took the impression from Galloway and prepared the photos,” he told me. “It looked like his (bite mark) to me.”

But there are those that believe, Galloway, who reportedly died in New Mexico, was the guilty party and that the case was never brought to justice.

“As far as I’m concerned it was solved,” Donaldson said. “Someone would have to come up with something that would convince me that it wasn’t him that did this – we had the right guy.”

Sadly, this may be a case where the suspected perpetrators, Galloway and Crago, are both dead plus a witness who could place Galloway at Graham’s is also dead and as the old cliché indicates “dead men tell no tales.”

But the hope is, that the Hailey Dunn case does not get so cold that all of the suspected players are not here.

“If only I could hug her on her birthday again,” her mother posted on social media on her birthday. “Bittersweet today, but so precious. Happy birthday in Heaven my sweet, beautiful Hailey.”

And on a previous post, Billie Dunn urges the Scurry County Sheriff’s Department, which is the lead agency in the case, to “make an arrest and bring her home please!”

Odessa, TX

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