American Rippers: 19 Years Later
By ANDREW COGLIANO When murder and prostitutes mix, one usually thinks of the infamous Jack the Ripper, who terrorized the streets of London in the late 1800’s. But recently, in the quiet military town of Oak Grove, Kentucky, the cold case regarding the slaying of two prostitutes has now been reopened. The prime suspects of the 1994 case were never fully tried, and later released due to insufficient evidence. Ever since then, the crimes have weighed heavily on the community, with citizens remaining (reasonably) fearful of another attack. The accusations began when the madam of the brothel to which both murdered women belonged to made a shocking statement during a City Council meeting 19 years ago. She boldly accused two corrupt police officers of murdering the women, which prompted the local authorities to initiate a full scale investigation that didn’t do much. In 2006, the police reopened the case and started a new investigation that lasted seven full years. The two police officers, as well as a third man, were named as prime suspects once more. Members of the accused include a detective who appeared at the crime scene originally, and two policemen who have since left the force. Edward T. Carter, Frank J. Black Jr., and Leslie Duncan were all accused of the murders within three months of each other. Duncan, 50, is currently incarcerated for a three year sentence after he plead guilty to tampering with physical evidence in the case, reported Kentucky State Police. Black and Carter are both being held in custody with a court issued bail of one million dollars. The two prostitutes, Candace Belt and Gloria Ross, were both shot in the head and had their throats slit. Furious, the madam of the brothel, Tammy Papler, noisily accused both Duncan and Carter, claiming that “[they] already had dirt on them.” It was true, the New Life Massage Parlor where Papler’s brothel was stationed did have a reputation of giving sexual favors to police officers. Another prostitute, Patty Balew, announced that this was the norm at the time. Balew was quoted as saying "If they were police officers, that's what we had to do whether we wanted to or not, which we didn't like,” in a 1997 interview with CNN. “It was devastating,” Papler adds, “One was breastfeeding her baby. It was just a few weeks old." Duncan’s attorney, Stephanie Richie, says that his client “maintains his innocence,” and “denies being involved in the murders.” As for tampering with evidence, Richie includes that “He expressed remorse and regret to the victims' families,” and also apologized for the mistakes he made as an inexperienced detective. All three men have been charged with two counts of murder, and are all being held in separate facilities within the state as they await transportation either to a court or to a state penitentiary. Papler made further accusations later in 1994, but by then she had already quit being the madam of the brothel.