Summary of A Clean Getaway
On 18th January 1992, police officials of Herrin, Illinois, received information about rape and murder at the dry-cleaning store via call. Tracking the call origin, police found “Fox’s Laundry and Dry-Cleaners” store nearby to the phone booth.
They found the store empty along with a purse and its items scattered behind the counter. In the back room, Kathy Woodhouse’s (victim) body was found behind the water heater. They also found a piece of women’s hosiery (Pantyhose) outside the store.
Police contacted a lady eye-witness who visited the store to collect her clothing. She described the details of the murderer and also helped in making his sketch.
Police weren’t able to identify the blood group of the murderer as he was a non-secretor. Investigators develop fingerprints from the phone but they didn’t match the database.
Kathy’s co-worker told the police about a person’s call asking the color of her toenail polish. Police followed the lead and identified the caller who is a construction worker in Zeigler town. However, due to his alibi of him teaching at the local community, they didn’t arrest him.
On 4th February, police received another call about Paul Taylor’s potential involvement. He lives two blocks from the store and works at a food restaurant. On checking the house, investigators found a partial pair of pantyhose under the mattress. Comparison with the piece found at the crime scene reveals a match.
Also, fingerprint and palm-print comparison with prints obtained from the phone and garbage bag near the body respectively leads to the arrest of Paul Taylor.
Conviction: On 15th April, Paul Taylor was found guilty of murder and sexual assault and sentenced to death. However, the government commuted his death penalty on 10th January 2003. He is serving life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.
Who was Kathy Woodhouse? How She Died?
Kathy Woodhouse, the wife of Joe Woodhouse, was an employee of “Fox’s Laundry and Dry Cleaners”. She had 3 children aged 13 to 22 years. She was 40 years old.
On 18th January 1992, Paul (disguised in pantyhose) forced Kathy into the backroom and raped her. However, to avoid being suspicious of the lady customer, he removed the stocking mask and greeted her.
He then attacked Kathy with a mop wringer and murdered her as she can identify him.
The autopsy report revealed the death of Kathy due to blunt force trauma to the head. The mop wringer was the best fit as a weapon of crime as its metal part was bent.
Was the Killer a Zeilger Construction Worker?
Kathy’s co-worker informed police about an anonymous call Kathy received the night before the murder. On tracking call records, investigators found that the call was made from Zeigler town which is a few miles away.
The caller was a 25-year-old construction worker. Investigators thought of him as a killer because he enquired about the toenail polish’s color.
No, he was not the real killer. He had an alibi that he was teaching a class at a local community college on the morning of the murder.
How Panty Hose Solved the Case? How did it identify the similarity?
Pantyhose, obtained outside the store, was important evidence collected by investigators.
While searching Paul’s house, investigators found a partial piece of pantyhose (1 leg portion missing) under the mattress with two adult magazines.
Both pieces were compared using the following methods:
- Physical match: The ends were matched physically. However, it did not result in a clear physical match.
- Microscopic analysis: Under the microscope, it was observed that both clothes were similar in knit pattern (Jersey stitch knit). Both pieces of clothing have the same chemical properties as they contain a moderate amount of TiO2.
- Microspectral photometry: Dye analysis using this technique revealed that both pieces of clothes have the same dyes.
All these techniques helped in determining the similarity of evidence obtained from both places.
How Kathy’s Murderer Got Caught? What Evidence Against Him?
On 4th February 1992, police received a call informing them about Paul Taylor (Kathy’s murderer). He was recently released from Louisiana prison and was living two blocks away from the store and working at a food restaurant.
The manager of the food restaurant informed the police about Paul’s resignation. Police reach Paul’s house and found a partial piece of pantyhose that was later matched with the collected one.
The following are the evidences that helped in the conviction of Paul Taylor:
|1. Pantyhose piece||On searching Paul’s house, investigators obtained a partial pantyhose under the mattress. A comparison was made and both pieces were found similar.|
|2. Fingerprint||Paul’s fingerprints match the fingerprints obtained from the phone receiver which was used to inform police officials about Kathy’s body.|
|3. Palm print||Palm prints, obtained from the garbage bag were matched with Paul’s palm print.|
Why the Eye Witness Description doesn’t Match the Real Perpetrator?
Lady eyewitness, who interacted with Paul Taylor, wasn’t able to give a proper description. This may be due to the following reasons:
- Paul was disguised as an employee of the store.
- In the context of looks, he seems to be aged around 30-35 years.
- Paul was standing near the back room of the store which was at a certain distance from the reception desk. Due to this, the lady wasn’t able to have a good look.
FR Author Group at ForensicReader is a team of Forensic experts and scholars having B.Sc, M.Sc, or Doctorate( Ph.D.) degrees in Forensic Science. We published on topics on fingerprints, questioned documents, forensic medicine, toxicology, physical evidence, and related case studies. Know More.