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Unsolved: Maria Stella Hamilton (1960)

A 57-year-old case got it's biggest clue decades after the murder. But only more frustration followed that revelation.

Posted: Feb. 15, 2017 4:02 AM
Updated: Nov. 8, 2017 9:29 AM


ASHLAND, Ore -- “I think it was a robbery…. And it didn’t go right… and there was resistance," Sgt. Eric Fox of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office said.

A day filled with household chores turned into tragedy when Maria Stella Hamilton’s husband came home to find his wife dead from multiple gunshot wounds.

Investigators combed through the signs of robbery in the house, and after some time, eventually found that Hamilton had a male acquaintance - who immediately became a focus in this case. However, this potential person of interest died in a car accident about a year after the investigation began.

“After that… the investigation stalled," said Fox. "There wasn’t much going on… it was just a case book… another dusty case book sitting in a box.”

Decades later, around 2000, the dust was brushed off when new information came from a woman - giving a different perspective to the day of the murder.

This woman, who was 17 years old in 1960, lived with her mother in Ashland. At the time, the family took in a 17-year-old foster child named Jack, and according to this informant, that day created a very different memory.

"The day of the murder… he shows up at the house…" says Fox. "And he’s got blood on him. Her mother tells her to go into the back room and shut the door… she hears arguing… and then jack grabs his things, grabs a bag, her mother gave him money and he leaves."

"Then her mother says, Jack did a very bad thing... don’t tell anybody about him being here today or he’ll come back and do something to us.”

A decades-old case suddenly swerved on the word of one informant, who refused to say a word of what allegedly happened until after her mom passed away.

With a renewed sense of focus, the case seemed to break open. 

"I finally track this guy down," said Fox.

"But unfortunately, by the time I tracked him down he was already dead.”

An ever-lasting investigation that seemed to have an ending, only to be stopped in it’s tracks once again. 57 years later, the lack of answers still lingers, but a need for closure remains strong.

"I mean, just the puzzle you want to solve," says Fox. "You want to solve the case.” 

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