Monday, September 23, 2002

Recent deaths recall unsolved killing

1954 slaying still on books

By Jim Hannah,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WARSAW — Before a knife-wielding attacker killed two young children last month, this Ohio River town's most sensational crime was the 48-year-old slaying of Gallatin County Sheriff Hubbard “Hub” Ferguson.

        And they're still working to solve it.

[photo] Brenda Hawkins, Gallatin County Library director, with a scrapbook about the 1954 murder of sheriff Hubbard Ferguson (upper left of page).
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        State troopers trying to crack the case, one of only four unsolved murders at Post 5, occasionally visit the Gallatin County library to read a scrapbook filled with old articles on the killing.

        “We take unsolved murders very seriously,” said Trooper Greg Larimore, spokesman for Post 5, responsible for patrolling six counties stretching from the outskirts of Greater Louisville to Boone County.

        “Homicide cases remain open 80 to 100 years, or until they are solved. Cases are regularly reviewed,” he said. “They do not sit on desks collecting dust.”

        Brenda Hawkins, the Gallatin County librarian for 24 years, said she is very protective of the scrapbook.

        “I don't even let the state troopers take it too far from my desk,” she said. “The notebook was donated to us about 20 years ago and contains maybe the only photo ever taken of the sheriff.”

        The prominent newspaper at the time dubbed the killing “The Case of The Kindly Sheriff.”

        Mr. Ferguson was beginning his second term as sheriff when he disappeared in June 1954. Residents discovered his car on an abandoned farm road with the keys on the seat, the glove compartment open and his .32 caliber pistol missing.

        County leaders organized a massive search, but his body wasn't found for three days. A farmer made the grisly discovery when his plow horse shied near Eagle Creek not far from Sparta.

        Mr. Ferguson had been shot through the head, and he also had another head wound, perhaps made by a hatchet.

        Police offered a $2,000 reward, but the closest they came to an arrest was when they discovered a car in a Madison, Ind., used-car lot that had been shot up and had blood splattered on the seats.

        The owner of the car — identified in press clips at the time as the son of a Carroll County official — was questioned. So was a recent prison parolee from Carroll County. No one was ever charged.

        From the beginning, investigators said they believed the sheriff had been killed by someone who lived in the neighborhood or was very familiar with it.

        State Police accuse ex-convict Marco Allen Chapman of entering the Warsaw home of Carolyn Marksberry Aug. 23 and stabbing to death her two youngest children. The oldest, 10-year-old Courtney Sharon, survived by playing dead. Mrs. Marksberry was stabbed 15 times and also survived.

        Gallatin County officials will convene a special meeting of the grand jury Wednesday to hear Mr. Chapman's case.


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- Recent deaths recall unsolved killing