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ISP: Police let dispatcher wash hands at death scene

Submitted by Carbondale Times on

Geoffrey Ritter
Carbondale Times

CARBONDALE — Newly obtained reports say Carbondale Police “allowed” one of their own employees to change his clothes and wash his hands after his ex-girlfriend was found in his apartment with a fatal bullet wound to her head — a notion that was disputed when first reported last year.

In Illinois State Police records obtained by the Times, investigators detail their probe into the death of 21-year-old Molly Young, who was found the morning of March 24, 2012, in the bedroom of Richie Minton, then and now a dispatcher at the Carbondale Police Department. 

In a document from September 2012 recording a conversation with an ISP agent working the case, the agency’s Division of Forensic Services lists clothing items from Young and Minton to be submitted for analysis, including a pair of Minton’s pajama pants found in his bathroom.

“Carbondale PD allowed suspect to change and wash his hands prior to being taken to police station for questioning,” the document says, explaining where the article of clothing was found.

The Times first reported on the hands-washing issue in April 2012, citing an interview with an ISP investigator. Two days later, the Southern Illinoisan published a story in which the same investigator contradicted that account, saying the notion that Carbondale Police had provided Minton with an opportunity to wash his hands was “absolutely not the case.” 

Carbondale Police were the first law enforcement personnel on the scene shortly after 9 a.m. that morning following the 911 call placed by Minton and his roommate reporting Young's death as a suicide — first as an overdose, then as a gunshot wound in a second call placed minutes later to the Carbondale Police Department. Officers found an “obviously deceased” Young in the bedroom and Minton, wearing only pajama pants, seated in the living room.

“I told Minton that we would need to get everyone out of the apartment and we would go to CPD,” a Carbondale sergeant says in separate reports obtained from the Carbondale Police Department. “Minton asked if he could get dressed. Minton located a pair of shorts on the kitchen floor and went into the bathroom to change his clothes.”

State Police officials began investigating the death as a homicide later that morning after “the dispatcher suspiciously lawyered up,” according to an incident synopsis written that morning by an ISP sergeant.

While at the station, Minton asked a Carbondale sergeant if he could use the restroom, and the sergeant referred the question to ISP investigators, who arrived at the police department mid-morning. “During the time I spent with Minton to that point, he did not use the restroom or wash his hands,” wrote the Carbondale sergeant, who arrived at the police station about 10 a.m.

At 1:10 p.m. that afternoon, Minton’s attorney, Terry Green, advised ISP personnel that Minton was willing to submit to a test for gunshot residue on his hands. A crime scene investigator “then asked the suspect if he had washed his hands since the incident occurred and he stated that he had.”

No gunshot residue was found on the hands of either Minton or Young. According to an ISP forensic scientist cited in one of the reports, “If the victim shot the gun, there should have been residue on her hands.”

At a January inquest into Young’s death, State Police officials presented many of the details included in their reports, as well as excerpts from Young’s journals and text messages indicating she was highly suicidal and, in fact, suggesting she planned to shoot herself in the head. The coroner’s jury ultimately ruled the nature of her death undetermined due to a lack of evidence.

Minton, who witnesses told police drank heavily that evening, contacted Young early that morning seeking her help. She came to his apartment sometime after 3 a.m., where she helped him change his clothes and get into bed, according to police reports. Reports further say Minton told investigators he woke in the morning to find Young’s body next to his bed, his .45-caliber pistol nearby, but had not heard the shot that killed her. Investigators were unable to verify any fingerprints on the weapon.

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