On Christmas Eve, 1991, Mrs. Betty Gene Hull (68) was found murdered. Whoever is responsible for her death was in a rage and the attack was personal. The attack may have started by knocking Mrs. Hull unconscious, possibly with a TV tray police found off its base and near the body. She had trauma to the head, mouth, and hands, and a bullet hole in her chest. The autopsy revealed multiple stab wounds in her chest. The stabbing was so forceful, that her lungs were penetrated. Four ribs were broken on the left side of her chest, and five on the right side. We know the autopsy took place on Dec 31 because an officer refers to it in the police report. However, the autopsy report itself is missing from the file.
On Dec 24, Betty Gene Hull was going to visit a relative, and her friend, Mrs. Baker, would meet her there. When the relative did not hear from her, she called Mrs. Baker, who went to Mrs. Hull’s home. The relative had tried to reach Mrs. Hull by phone since 5pm. When Mrs. Baker arrived, she saw Mrs. Hull’s car in the garage. There were no lights on in the house. The backdoor was unlocked despite Mrs. Hull’s habit of locking all doors.
Mrs. Baker went inside, turned on the back porch lights, passed through the kitchen, turning on more lights, and called for her friend. She found her on the floor in the dining room. Not finding a pulse, Mrs. Baker became scared and called her son, who contacted police.
This troubles me:
● There appeared to be hair on the TV tray. Whether the tray was searched for finger prints is not in the report. Neither is there any information whether that hair matched Mrs. Hull’s. We also do not know whether the wound on Mrs. Hull’s head could have been inflicted by a TV tray.
● Police found a tan coloured purse in the kitchen. The purse had some smudges of blood on it. This should be tested for touch DNA. Also, we need to know if the blood spatters on the drapes in the front room matches that on the purse.
● Police found a long butcher’s knife bent at almost 90 degrees. It was tested positive for human blood but, since the stain was consumed during analysis, it may not have been compared to Mrs. Hull’s blood, the smudges on the purse, and the drapes. However, it might still be possible to retrieve touch DNA from it by using modern technology such as the M-Vac. We also do not know whether the knife’s length is consistent with the stabbing wounds in Betty Gene Hull’s chest.
● On January 7, 1992, some lab results came back. There were no signs of a sexual assault, no blood found under the knife handle, and a very small amount of human blood on the knife blade. The purse and TV tray still had to be examined. I never heard about any test results. If you have a link to newspaper articles about this, please let me know.
Mrs. Baker told police that Mrs. Hull was a very generous woman who helped out neighbours and friends when they needed something. She loaned them money, let people use her phone, and gave people food and rides. Most people in Mrs. Hull’s street agreed that many took advantage of her. Mrs. Hull did not just show her generosity in the many times she would let people use her car, phone, or money. Many times she never pressed people to pay her back, even though she only lived on $1000 per month.
In March 1992, police heard rumors about a suspect. This was someone who not only borrowed money from Mrs. Hull, but also did yard work for her. Police found a source near this man. The source told police that the potential suspect was drug dependant and had a criminal record. That proved to be correct. It also proved correct that he knew Mrs. Hull. He was questioned over the course of several months and more information was gathered. He took a polygraph test and failed.The potential suspect’s criminal records showed a history of physical violence even towards people not posing a physical threat.
This man has been under suspicion since 1992. He was questioned again in 1999. Again, he denied any involvement, but he was visibly shaken when shown a picture of Betty Gene Hull. He explained his reaction by stating that he was now a religious man and had lost dear family members.
Betty Gene Hull’s case remains unsolved. There are many gaps in people’s stories and timelines. People have clearly taken advantage of this senior citizen. However, nobody felt compelled to stop it. Neighbors told police that Mrs. Hull never seemed to be afraid of people ringing her door bell. She was a trusting older woman who wanted to help and do what is right.
If you have any information, please contact the Champaign Police Department at 217-315-4545.