OTTUMWA - A killer who was executed in Missouri for the 1987 murder of a 12-year-old girl was also responsible for a long-unsolved triple homicide in Iowa three years earlier, investigators announced Friday.
New DNA evidence implicates Andrew W. Six in the 1984 bludgeoning deaths of 20-year-old Justin Hook Jr.; Hook's fiancee, 19-year-old Tina Lade; and Hook's mother, 41-year-old Sara Link, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Wapello County Sheriff Mark Miller announced.
"What we know for sure is that Andy Six is responsible," Miller said at a news conference at his office in Ottumwa, in southeast Iowa.
Missouri authorities executed Six, then 32, by lethal injection in 1997 for the kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Kathy Allen. Six and his uncle kidnapped the girl from her family's trailer in Ottumwa, then slit her throat and dumped her in northern Missouri.
Retired DCI supervisor Sam Swaim said that Six was always a suspect in the 1984 triple homicide, but that investigators could not come up with enough evidence to charge him. He said that he was happy that scientific evidence has linked Six to the crime but wishes Six had been caught earlier.
"I regret that we didn't get that case solved. That would have saved Kathy Allen's life," he told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
Hook's body was found one day after his trailer was burnt down in rural Drakesville, a sleepy town of 200 people near the Missouri border, in April 1984. When authorities tried to notify Hook's mother, they learned that she was missing.
Days later, a farmer found her body on a hilly, wooded section of his property near Eldon, about 15 miles northeast of Drakesville. Two days later, police dogs found the body of Lade in a ravine a half-mile from where Link's body was recovered. Investigators said all three had been killed by blows to the head.
The discovery of the bodies shook the rural area with little violent crime. Hook had given Lade, of Ottumwa, an engagement ring days before their deaths on the birthday they shared, when she turned 19 and he turned 20.
Several relatives of the victims attended the Friday news conference where investigators announced their conclusion. Among them was 32-year-old Justin David Hook, Hook's son, who was 2 years old at the time his father was murdered. Now a mechanic in St. Louis, he said that he doesn't remember his father and thought he would go his whole life not knowing how he was killed.
"I've been waiting my whole life to come up here and do this," he told AP. "At least it's something."
Investigators said they believe that Six killed the three after a dispute over payment for a used car he sold Hook and that he burnt down the trailer to conceal evidence.
No murder weapon was ever found, and no arrests were made.