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Marcia Trimble’s Murder… Solved **UPDATED, 12/06**

(NOTE: This was first posted 12/03/07 at 6:04 p.m. ET. On 12/06 it was updated and the post date altered to place it at the top of the blog’s index page. If you’ve already read the entry you can scroll down for the update.)

Thirty-two years later, it appears that Marcia Trimble’s murder may be solved.

Nashville’s NBC affiliate, WSMV, is reporting the following:

Sources confirm to Channel 4 that prosecutors plan to charge Jerome Barrett, 60, with the 1975 kidnapping, raping and killing of 9-year-old Marcia Trimble.

[…]

After hundreds of people were questioned over the years, several sources confirm to tChannel 4 News that investigators made a DNA match to Barrett that could solve the case.

I wrote about Jerome Sydney Barrett’s arrest and his possible connection to the Trimble case here. His DNA was likely tested against samples found on Marcia’s body when she was discovered on Easter Sunday, 1975, in a shed 200 yards from her home in Green Hills, West Nashville, TN.

One of the first girls I ever had a real crush on as a teen, Meredith Harris, was one of Marcia’s neighbors and a fellow girl scout. Julia Hatcher, the first girl I ever seriously dated, was in the same Girl Scout Troop with Meredith and Marcia, and all three girls attended Julia Greene elementary school together.

My friend Missy, whom I’ve known since kindergarten, called me to tell me she’d heard this on the news.

That was so appropriate. She was one of the girls in 1st grade advanced reading group with me the year Marcia Trimble disappeared. She was spunky, skinny, blond, and freckled. Probably a lot like Marcia Trimble. I always liked Missy, and was happy when she looked me up again on MySpace a year or so ago. Missy was one of the girls I would see at school while Marcia was missing, and imagine with dread some “prevert” taking her, too.

Thanks, Missy.

Here is another entry I wrote about Marcia Trimble, and my connection to her long-unsolved disappearance and murder:

Marcia Trimble, Meredith Harris, and Me.

Imagine you heard they made a match to DNA in the JonBenet Ramsey murder. For long-time or native Middle Tennesseans this news is that big.

This entry will be revised and updated. I have some phone calls to make.

UPDATE, 12/06/07

The following piece on WSMV’s website, reported by Demetria Kalodimos, is an important read:

Ex-Detective’s Hunch Could Prove True In Trimble Case.”

Highlights, comments:

A dedicated rape detective said he had a 30-year gut feeling about the Marcia Trimble case.

Sgt. Ralph Langston was the first to put Jerome Barrett in jail in Nashville.

He said he was putting the pieces together back in 1975, but no one would listen…

Langston wasn’t listened to because the Trimble case may have been sabotaged by investigators forming a theory of what happened to Marcia, and then trying to shoehorn the facts into their theory. Everyone was convinced that Marcia had been murdered by someone in her neighborhood, someone known to her. More:

Langston said he was convinced Barrett had done much more, and all on foot.

“He was the truest predator you’ll ever see,” he said.

Langston said Barrett would walk the streets and knew every alley and shortcut.

“He’s watching for these opportunities and he got them,” he said.

After a long interrogation, he said, Barrett cried while he confessed, but only to crimes police knew about.

Then Barrett had a strange reaction, Langston said.“I didn’t bring up the case, I brought up the street. … ‘What about the street, Estes Street, right up there?’ And I remember him hitting (the table), ‘You’re not going to pin that on me.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about? I’m just talking about the area where you worked.’ ‘That little girl, you’re not going to pin that on me.’ He wouldn’t open his mouth again,” he said.

Langston talked a lot through the years by asking different colleagues to consider Barrett as a suspect in the unsolved slaying of Vanderbilt student Sarah Des Prez and in the Trimble case.

“Have you all still not thought this might be an unknown, random suspect? And I was made to feel like an idiot anytime I brought it up. … I said, ‘Why do you know it’s a known suspect when nobody knows nothing?’ So would put it on the back burner, because every time I would bring it up, I would feel like an idiot. So, I let that go and let it go. … I never forgot it. I said, when we get back to Nashville…I want to see justice is done for those families because they deserve that,” he said…

I’m just talking about the area where you worked.” So… Barrett had reason to be in the area. If he worked there, as Langston said, he was a familiar enough face for others to not pay undue attention to his presence there.

Langston felt stupid, but now it appears he may have been the ultimate voice in the wilderness. A voice that could have saved years of grief for many, many people, if it had only been heard.

Solving Marcia Trimble’s murder is a great thing. But it doesn’t erase questions as to why it took so long. It doesn’t alter the fact that in the process, many innocent lives were damaged in the hunt for the little girl’s killer.

UPDATE, 12/07/07

Writing in the Nashville Post, Tom Wood and Ken Whitehouse address some things that I’ve discussed with others privately quite a bit over the last year or so. I’ve added emphasis to a part of the quote:

[Many] Nashvillians say the Trimble case changed forever the sense of security they felt in a city that previously had still felt in many ways like a small town. And the cloud it cast over the lives of several men who grew up with Marcia as a neighbor has lasted for decades. Police repeatedly floated their names as potential suspects, and to this day the authorities have said nothing to allay they suspicions they raised.

The suspicion cast on some of these men was undoubtedly devastating. The stories I’ve learned of how the police handled some of their suspects over the years are appalling — jackbooted thug appalling, in a couple of instances.

This piece on WSMV’s website about the contemporary reporting on Jerome Sydney Barrett is eye-opening, to say the least. The now-defunct Nashville Banner had devoted a good deal of coverage to the rapes and murders attributed to the convicted pedophile and rapist:

[Barrett’s] name wasn’t hard to find in the old Nashville Banner archives. There was an envelope, packed with yellowed clippings from the 1970s all about him.

The clippings mentioned the Belmont student, how the school was criticized for a shocking lapse in security, how a housewife was raped and how Barrett was indicted.

ADDITIONAL LINK: A post I originally wrote for Corey Mitchell’s In Cold Blog:

“Dead Girls, and the Boys Who…”