The Internet has been a real boon to crime solvers. It seems like every other day we hear about the Internet or social media as the platform that helped solved a crime. Think of the Steubenville rapists. Autumn Pasquale's suspected killers were arrested after their own mother saw them make incriminating comments on Facebook. But who knew that Facebook could solve a cold case crime that was 45 years old! That's reportedly what happened when a retired detective decided to post about an unsolved crime regarding a 4-year-old girl who died after being hit by a car that then took off from the scene.
Back in 1968, cops were stymied after 4-year-old Carolee Sadie Ashby was hit while crossing the street with her 15-year-old sister and cousin. The two other girls weren't hurt, but little Carolee died from her injuries.
At the time, police questioned a man named Douglas Parkhurst, when they learned he'd been in a car accident the same night as the hit-and-run. But Parkhurst claimed no knowledge of the Carolee killing and said his accident had been in another town. In the Mad Men-ish world of no surveillance cameras on every corner, no online crowdsourcing, and no evidence to prove otherwise, police had to let him go.
Fast forward to early last year, when detective Lt. Russ Johnson posted details of the case to a local history Facebook page. Amazingly, a former resident of the town in upstate New York where the crime took place, Fulton, saw the posting and the names rang a bell.
She contacted police to tell them that long ago she'd been approached by a member of the Parkhurst family and asked to say that she was with Douglas and his brother on the night in question. She refused to do so.
This information prompted investigators to visit Parkhurst again. Now 62, Parkhurst was apparently tired of living with a guilty conscience. Over the course of several interviews, he reportedly confessed that he had been drinking that night, and when he hit Carolee, he thought he had run over an animal. He apparently admitting to lying in his initial interview.
Unfortunately, Parkhurst won't be charged because the statute of limitations has expired. Ugh!
What's amazing is that the resident who saw the detective's posting now lives in Florida. There is no way she would have connected with him without Facebook. And good on the detective for continuing to put the case out there in the public eye, despite it being 45 years old.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no real justice for little Carolee. But hopefully other detectives who long ago worked on cold cases will take Lt. Johnson's lead and others will find justice.
Have you ever solved a mystery online?
Image via English106/Flickr