1975 Triple Abduction and Stabbing Case Solved



After nearly five decades, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police have identified Thomas Edward Williams, who died in custody in 1983, as the man who stabbed and abandoned three girls in an Indiana cornfield in 1975. The identification was made possible through the use of DNA evidence and the persistence of the victims, now in their 50s and 60s. Upon hearing the news, the women expressed feelings of closure and justice, with one of the victims stating that she has chosen to forgive Williams for the attack.

Decades-Old Indiana Cold Case Solved Through DNA Evidence

Thursday marked a significant milestone for two sisters and a friend who awaited justice for nearly 50 years. Indiana police officials finally revealed the identity of the man who attacked them in an Indiana cornfield in late summer 1975.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department announced at a news conference that DNA evidence led to the identification of Thomas Edward Williams as the assailant. Williams, who died in custody in Texas in 1983, was found to have stabbed Kandice Smith, Sheri Rottler (now Sheri Rottler Trick) and Kathie Rottler in Greenfield, Indiana, on Aug. 19, 1975.

The victims, now in their 50s and 60s, listened solemnly to the recounted details of that violent night. The girls had hitchhiked after shopping at a gas station. A station wagon driver offered them a ride and drove them to a cornfield where he bound and stabbed them repeatedly before abandoning them.

Sgt. David Ellison of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police described how the girls “played dead” to avoid further injury, and sought help from a passerby after the attack. The police managed to rescue all three victims, who were then taken to a hospital.

Following the retelling of the crime, each woman addressed the audience. “I stand here today as a survivor who has learned the true meaning of patience,” Ms. Rottler stated. Despite the case having gone cold, Ms. Rottler remained determined, facing each dead end with resilience.

In 2018, the women approached Sergeant Ellison, who agreed to revisit their case. Using genetic genealogy, investigators compared recovered crime scene DNA to that of potential relatives, leading them to a daughter of Mr. Williams. After agreeing to provide a DNA sample, it was confirmed that Mr. Williams was indeed the perpetrator.

Addressing the women, Deputy Chief Kendale Adams expressed hope that this development would bring some closure. During the conference, Ms. Rottler Trick announced her decision to forgive Mr. Williams.

Last to speak was Ms. Smith, who expressed that the identification of Mr. Williams had provided her and her family with justice and closure. “It’s put peace within my heart,” she said.

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