Digging Deeper: Last Chance for Justice
Nancy Eagleson’s family has an idea they believe could help solve her decades old cold case
Paulding, Ohio (WPTA) - Nancy Eagleson was on her way home from a movie on November 13, 1960, when she was kidnapped, raped, and murdered. The crime had a tremendous impact on the entire community. “For the first time, I saw my parents frightened,” says Jeanne Windsor. “For the first time, they could not say there is no boogieman because there was a boogieman.”
When Windsor retired from teaching, she was drawn to Nancy’s case. “It’s haunted me all my life. It’s haunted me that they were never able to solve this case,” she says. We met Windsor at a cafe in Paulding. She has spent a great deal of time getting to know more about the case and the Eaglesons. “I want to see good win over evil,” she says. Windsor has helped organize memorial walks in Nancy’s honor and has acted as the family’s spokesperson.
The case has also haunted Nancy’s baby sister Merrill Eagleson Miller. She was born after the tragedy. She joined us at the cafe to talk about the case, showing us her scrapbook of newspaper clippings, with tears in her eyes. She says her family would now like the Paulding County Sheriff’s Department to exhume Nancy’s remains. “Now that they have all of this DNA technology they should try,” she says.
The family would prefer to try and track down the killer by examining evidence from the original crime scene, but they say that evidence is missing.
Paulding County Sheriff Jason Landers says investigators back in the 1960s collected detailed notes and evidence, but he says the physical evidence including Nancy’s clothing no longer exists. He says he’s been with the department for 25 years and has never seen the evidence. He also says his predecessor told him that the evidence wasn’t there during his tenure.
He says the fact that it’s missing is devastating, and that he’d like to help the family, but he has consulted experts who don’t believe exhuming Nancy’s remains would add any value to the investigation.
The family is pressing forward. They are collecting money through a gofundme page. They expect the process, not just the actual digging but also efforts to work through the court system, to be very costly. “Because all the physical evidence was lost, we believe the only way to get answers is to do DNA testing on her remains. We have made the painful decision to exhume her body,” Merrill says.
The person impacted the most by the tragedy, Sheryl Eagleson Garza, is also supportive of the decision to try and exhume Nancy’s remains. She was with Nancy the day she died. She shared her memories with us as we stood outside of the old movie theater downtown. “It used to be just beautiful light shining down on the sparkly sidewalk and we used to see a lot of shows here,” she says.
She doesn’t remember leaving the theater on the day of the tragedy, but she does remember stopping to drink sodas at a restaurant. She also remembers a man pulling over to ask if she and Nancy wanted a ride home. She says he came back even after they refused. “He jumped out of the front seat, grabbed her out of my hands, threw her in the back seat of the car,” she says. “As he stood in the car he blocked the door. I couldn’t see what was happening so I jumped on his back. He threw me back on the ground.”
Nancy says she’s been hypnotized several times in hopes that she would be able to tell investigators more about the man who killed Nancy. She has nightmares now where she herself begs Nancy to tell her more about the man. “I would say Nancy, ‘Who killed you?’ and she would just fade.”
Technology and nationwide interest in unsolved crimes have made it easy for so-called “citizen detectives” to contribute tips and context to cases. We spoke with an expert who facilitates such activity through a website called Uncovered.
Copyright 2022 WPTA. All rights reserved.