Police in Washington state say the killer responsible for a 51-year-old cold case may have escaped justice, as he died three days before police were issued a warrant for his arrest.
In a Facebook post Monday, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said they had planned to arrest Duke Pierson, 85, an Alabama man they suspected of murdering a Spokane woman in 1967.
Dorothy Fielding was only 31 years old when she disappeared more than 50 years ago. Her body was found months later, buried in a shallow grave. Police say her case had been open for decades, before new information finally helped them name a suspect.
Along with Fielding’s death, the sheriff’s office suspected Pierson was connected to two other unsolved deaths from the same time period.
Ruby Lampson, 47, also disappeared from Spokane in shortly before Fielding. Like her, Lampson's body was later recovered in a shallow grave near the site of Fielding's.
Police also now suspect foul play in the 1967 death of Pierson’s pregnant wife, Sandra. She was found in the garage of her home, inside a car that had been jury-rigged to pump exhaust fumes into the vehicle.
The death was ruled a suicide, but there were also questions that nagged police. They say the car’s engine "was not running" when they found Sandra, and that its gas tank "was approximately half full."
Detectives also wondered how the petite Sandra had managed to close the garage’s "heavy, possibly malfunctioning" garage door.
Sandra’s death came just months after Fielding and Lampson’s disappearances. Detectives add that both of Pierson’s children "suspect Duke was involved in their mother’s death."
Spokane police reopened the cases of the murdered women just last year, after a tip to the Major Crimes Unit mentioned Pierson. Apparently, both Lampson and Fielding frequented a tavern where Pierson was on a bowling team.
Detectives finally received a warrant for Pierson’s arrest in the Fielding murder case last Friday, but the news came too late. Just three days before, Pierson died, reportedly from natural causes.
While solving the case after all these decades is a feat, it’s also an embarrassment to the sheriff’s office. Pierson actually worked as a sheriff’s deputy in the 1950s and 60s, before suddenly quitting as "his attitude and demeanor changed significantly."
Police actually interviewed Pierson before his death as part of their investigation, but say he denied knowing either Fielding or Lampson.
The sheriff’s office is still inviting anyone with information about Duke and Sandra Pierson, Dorothy Fielding, or Ruby Lampson to call Detective Keyser at 509-477-6611.
[H/T: Fox News]