Professor may have found break in notorious 1965 unsolved murder - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Professor may have found break in notorious 1965 unsolved murder

Alberta Jones (Source: WAVE 3 News Archives) Alberta Jones (Source: WAVE 3 News Archives)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The 1965 unsolved murder of Alberta Jones is one of the most notorious crimes in Louisville's history, and it’s still unsolved. Now, after three years of researching it, a Bellarmine University associate professor of political science wants to reopen the case. 
 
Jones was an African-American female prosecutor for the Jefferson County, the first female of any color to hold the position and the first African American woman to pass the Kentucky bar.
 
"A great, wonderful person,” her younger sister Flora Shanklin said. “She paved the way for a lot of black women to become prosecutors."
 
Jones’s photo hangs at the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law. In 2002, Dr. Lee Williams was a first-year law student when she saw the photo.
 
“Her picture is hanging in the hallway there among other Kentucky civil rights leaders,” Williams said. “At the bottom it said 'murder unsolved.’”
 
After starting at Bellarmine University, Williams began her research on the case and continued for three years.

“As I got into it, I realized that this case had a lot more to it,” Williams said.

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The night she died, Jones was convinced around 11 p.m. to meet up with a friend, which was very unusual.
 
“This was an African American woman in 1965 prosecuting white men for domestic violence, so she did not go out of the house,” Williams said.
 
Three hours later, around 2 a.m., witnesses saw Jones getting beat, and struggling to escape before being abducted on Magazine Street, near Elliot Park.
 
“Witnesses told police that they simply thought it was a man beating his wife and that's why they didn't call the cops,” Williams said.
 
Her body was then discovered by young boys near the Shawnee Park boat ramp. She had been beaten unconscious and tossed into the river where she drowned.

Shanklin said she broke down. 
 
“They had to call in three doctors because I went into complete shock,” Shanklin said.
 
The day after the murder, police found Jones's rented car at Del Park Terrace and 31st Street. They found blood and fingerprints throughout the car.
 
"The car was cordoned off and vacuumed, every inch was placed in a plastic bag,” Williams said. “I cannot describe to you how much evidence was taken in this case.”
 
In all, Williams said the case had more physical evidence than all but one in the city's history.
 
Sometime between an effort to reopen in 1989 and review in 2008, almost all of the evidence disappeared.
 
“I feel like it's a cover-up in the police department,” Shanklin said.
 
Fortunately, the FBI, which was asked to help in the case, kept three fingerprints.
 
“It was one of those three prints that the FBI retained that matched the individual,” Williams said.
 
A man who was 17 years old at the time was given polygraph exam, which he failed, according to Williams’s research.
 
He wasn't arrested because the prosecutor at the time said could not prove the print was from inside the car.
 
That’s until now.
 
“We've gotten some FBI reports and other things from the file where we believe that we can show that it can come from inside the car,” Williams said.
 
She believes the man may not have committed the murder but could identify who did.
 
In just the past day, Williams said she received a new lead that she can’t discuss but will likely help in the case. She's petitioning police to reopen their investigation.
 
A spokesperson for the Commonwealth Attorney’s office said they are waiting for additional evidence and investigation from the police department before issuing any warrants.
 
“She spent her entire life fighting for others and it is time that people started fighting for her,” Williams said.
 
The man matched to the print is not identified in this story because he has not been charged with a crime.
 
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