Crime Junkie’s Murdered: Darlene Hulse Murder – Who Killed Her?

Darlene Hulse Murder

Darlene Hulse Murder – Almost 35 years ago, a young mother, Darlene Hulse, was brutally killed in Marshall County. Her three young children were inside the residence when the attack began.

An unknown intruder used a pretext to enter Darlene Hulse’s residence when her children were alone. Darlene endangered her and her children’s lives to save them. The assailant was able to strike Darlene with a blazing poker since time was on his side. The following day, her body was discovered.

Crime Junkie show ‘Murdered’ episode “Darlene Hulse” describes the Darlene Hulse murder and follows the inquiry into who murdered Darlene Hulse. If you want to know more about in this case, keep reading.

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How Did Darlene Hulse Die

How Did Darlene Hulse Pass Away?

Darlene Hulse was a loving mother to three and an esteemed community member in Argos, Indiana. She shared an unbreakable bond with her children and was dedicated to fulfilling all parental responsibilities. Happily married to Ronald, Darlene and Ronald lived a life that seemed perfect – until tragedy struck. 

On August 17, 1984, tragedy struck when a stranger broke into their house while Ronald was away at work. Just as Darlene was about to take Kristen to her doctor’s appointment, the intruder attacked her. Her other daughters, Marie (8-year-old) and Melissa (6-year-old) were in another room when they heard what they believed to be a growl from Ronald’s room. When they ran to their mother’s room, however, they discovered her being violently assaulted by an unknown individual. 

Marie McCleskey said, “And it sounded like a dog barking, like growling and just noises.” “And I looked at Melissa like, ‘Dad brought us a dog, a puppy.’ We got excited, and I was like, ‘I’m going to go check it out. You stay right here.'”

Marie raced to the phone to dial one of the two numbers she knew.

It happened so fast, I couldn’t compute what was going on, and my mom was yelling at me: ‘Run! Run!‘”

We lived in a ranch house, so I ran the length of the den into the kitchen, and I just remember thinking, ‘OK, I have to call somebody,'” Marie recounted. “This was before 911, so I started dialing my aunt’s number, and all the while he is dragging my mom by her hair towards me. And I get the busy signal, and I drop the phone, and then he comes over as he’s dragging my mom, and he pulls the phone out of the wall, from the top down.”

The two older daughters were terrified and ran to their grandparents’ house for assistance. Within 15 minutes after the attack, police arrived at the Hulse residence; a blood trail led them straight to the front door indicating someone had taken Darlene’s body away. 

When police arrived, the car was gone, Darlene was gone,” Marshall County Prosecuting Attorney Nelson Chipman said. “The 1-year-old, sadly, was in the middle of the living room covered with her mother’s blood.”

Kristen was found unharmed in the bedroom, covered in her mother’s blood. Police organized search parties to look for Darlene, but her body was discovered the following day by a timber businessman 7 miles away in a wooded area. An autopsy determined she died from being hit multiple times on the head with a fire poker, but there was no indication of rape or sexual abuse.

That was a remarkable stroke of luck,” Chipman said. “That time of year, this would have been so overgrown. I’ve been here that time of year; you would not have seen her from the road.”

It wasn’t something newly done,” he said. “It couldn’t be pure coincidence that you come down this dirt road and you come to an area where, ‘Oh, there’s a V. I can just take her in there.'”

I’m just wondering if he, whoever the gentleman is, saw her and had more contact with her than we actually realized,” Marie questioned. “I don’t remember my mom ever just talking to random man, it was mostly family members. Maybe he saw her, because it was a close community. And maybe he had ties with her that we didn’t realize. That’s the only thing that I can wrap my brain around. Or he was a complete psycho. Like, who would do this to somebody?

I have grown up in fear, knowing that evil is real,” daughter Kristen Hulse Rooks explained.

Who Killed Darlene Hulse

Who Killed Darlene Hulse?

After Darlene Hulse’s brutal attack, her daughters Marie and Melissa provided eyewitness accounts that allowed police to create detailed sketches of the perpetrator. However, despite sending these sketches to multiple law enforcement agencies and interviewing acquaintances and her husband, Ronald, no leads or witnesses materialized, and the investigation came to a standstill. After three potential suspects – Robert Zebrowski, Richard W. Mock and Daniel Bender – were identified, the investigation resumed. 

Robert resembled the sketch, yet a lack of leads led to his release. Richard wasn’t questioned, and Daniel was accused of helping a criminal but ultimately cleared. For years, this case went unsolved until it was reopened in 2019. However, the only DNA found at the crime scene belonged to Darlene, and interviews with acquaintances yielded no new information. As police continue investigating this case and ask for any leads they may have, Darlene’s family remains hopeful that justice will be served for her killer.

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