Real Name: Ethel S. Kidd
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Burr Hill, Virginia
Date: April 12, 1989
Details: Sixty-one-year-old Ethel Kidd had moved to Burr Hill, Virginia, seventy miles from Washington, DC. She and her husband, Gilbert, bought a parcel of land in 1988 and built a home for their retirement. Their children and grandchildren lived nearby. This was very important to her, since her life centered around her loving family.
On Wednesday, April 12th, 1989, construction on the new house was almost finished. Ethel was spending a great deal of time there, and on that morning, she had visited her daughter, who lived about a mile from there. She returned home about 2 pm and was seen picking up her mail from the street side mailbox.
The next morning, her daughter called her at 7:30 am, but she didn't answer. Instead, her answering machine picked up. She assumed that she was on her way over for a morning cup of coffee, but she never showed up. Two hours later, at 9:30 am, her son-in-law, Thomas (either his real name or not), drove by her house, only to find her car still parked in the driveway. As he approached the house, he found a road atlas laying in the yard. Investigators later found motel stationary that contained writings of a sexual nature inside it. These had been used by the suspect as flash cards along the highway to solicit sex from other drivers. There was also an outline for the perpetrator to follow in his plan of murder, including references to selecting a location and then obtaining a new identity.
Without noticing these items inside the atlas, Thomas entered her house, finding the front door unlocked. That was very unusual, as she always kept her doors locked. But nothing inside was out of place. It did not appear that there had been a robbery or any signs of a struggle. Right away, a large search party formed to begin looking for her. They searched the acres of fields and woods surrounding the area where she lived, but found no clues or any sign of her.
Eight days later, a hunter was in the woods only three miles from her house. He came upon a most disturbing sight. Even though this area had been thoroughly searched the previous week, there was her murdered body, bound to a tree and facing a logging road only fifty feet away. She had been raped, strangled, and dead for about seven days.
Due to the lack of decomposition, authorities believed that her body had been stored in some kind of a refrigeration unit such as a refrigerated semi truck or a walk-in freezer. The cord used to bind her was only used in hotel and hospital draperies and not available to the public. Car upholstery fibers were also found on her clothes. However, authorities felt that the most important piece of evidence was the bizarre list that the killer had left behind.
Suspects: Police found a folded up map at the scene to suggest that Ethel's killer had stopped to ask for directions. Another piece of evidence found was the paper left by the killer which was a "list" for murder. Item #2 listed clothing and accessories that may have been used for a disguise. Item #3 mentioned I.D. and a book called the "Paper Trip" which helps a person obtain a new identity. Item #4 simply stated: Choose Location. Item #5 listed the following abbreviations: H.C., Tp, and S.G. Investigators believe that they stood for Handcuffs, Tape, and either Surgical Gloves or Stun Gun.
Police believe the killer was a white male in his 30s or 40s, probably a loner. He most likely travels and stays in motels. He could possibly be a trucker or salesman. However, they have no suspects.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the October 2, 1991 episode.
Results: Solved. A subsequent airing of this case on the show generated a tip about a suspect named Edward Wayne Beverly, who was serving time in prison for an unrelated crime. Although his name was not mentioned in the broadcast at the time, another update featuring Keely Shaye Smith indicated that he was recognized by the handwriting on his preparation list found within the atlas he left at the scene. He had lived in Burr Hill, Virginia, but he suddenly left the area after the murder.
Once he was tracked down to a Tennesse prison, authorities compared his DNA and fingerprints to evidence at the crime scene; they matched. A few months before he was to be released from prison, he was charged with Ethel's murder. He was later convicted of murder and given three life sentences. He died there in late 2008.
Sadly, Ethel's widower, Gilbert, passed away in 2006 at the age of 71.
- Reliving a Painful Past
- Grandmother's Killer Receives Three Life Sentences
- Ethel Kidd at Orton Crime
- Ethel Kidd at Find a Grave