Velda Rumfelt‘s body was discovered in Eureka, Missouri, in June 1977, prompting officials to embark on a decades-long hunt for answers.
‘On the Case With Paula Zahn: A Stranger Among Us,’ a documentary on Investigation Discovery, tells the horrific storey of Velda’s killing and the killer’s long journey through the criminal justice system.
So, if you’re curious about what transpired in this case, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered!
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Velda Rumfelt’s Death: What Caused Her Death?
Velda Joy Rumfelt was born in Missouri and had relocated to Kansas City at the time of the occurrence.
The 16-year-old was a sophomore who was a member of the gymnastics team and was on the honour roll.
Velda was regarded by loved ones as a vibrant and brilliant young woman who excelled academically and in other areas.
However, tragedy struck while she was visiting family and friends in the Brentwood, Missouri region.
Velda was last seen on the street in Brentwood on June 5, 1977, and her body was discovered in a lonely area near an amusement park in Eureka on June 7, 1977.
Her throat had been slit, and shoestrings appeared to have been used to strangle her. Velda’s bra was placed in her mouth, and semen was found in her vagina, indicating that she had been sexually molested.
Velda’s clothing was collected and held as evidence by the authorities.
Who Was Velda Rumfelt’s killer?
While officials in Missouri sought to discover Velda’s perpetrator, a series of incidents occurred in Belleville, Illinois.
In April and July 1978, 14-year-old Elizabeth West and 21-year-old Ruth Ann Jany vanished under similar circumstances.
Gregory Bowman was later jailed for kidnapping a woman on July 20, 1978. The police had no proof linking Gregory to the disappearances of Elizabeth and Ruth at the time.
Ruth’s remains were discovered around a year after Elizabeth’s body was discovered two weeks following her kidnapping.
While in detention, one convict vowed to assist Gregory in escaping from prison if he could postpone his transfer to another facility.
Gregory was advised he could do so by informing the authorities about the murders of Elizabeth and Ruth.
As a result, he confessed to the murders of the two girls and supplied information that only the perpetrator could have known.
The escape plot, on the other hand, was really a ruse to get Gregory to talk.
In addition, Gregory later claimed that he learned about the murders from newspaper stories and police reports.
Gregory was convicted of the murders of Elizabeth and Ruth in a nonjury trial in 1979. In exchange for the prosecution not seeking the death penalty, he promised not to mount a defence.
However, after an independent inquiry revealed that Gregory’s lawyer had been kept in the dark about how he was duped into confessing, an appeals court ordered a fresh trial in 2001.
Gregory’s confession to the convict was the only piece of evidence the authorities possessed at the time, and no additional evidence tied him to the crimes.
Physical evidence from those cases was also discovered to have been destroyed because the inquiry was declared closed.
To see if Gregory was linked to any other crimes, the investigators compared semen on Velda’s pants to his profile.
In 2001, Gregory gave a DNA sample to prove his innocence in the Belleville murders.
Gregory was released on bond in 2007, only to be detained again after his DNA was found to match the biological evidence found in Velda’s underwear.
Authorities couldn’t find anything tying Velda and Gregory at the time of her death, but he had a history of kidnapping and attacking women.
Survivors testified during Gregory’s judicial proceedings in 2009 that he threatened them and held them at knifepoint in the 1970s.
On the evening of June 5, 1977, one of Velda’s acquaintances claimed to have seen her with an unidentified male.
Gregory Bowman Dead Or Alive? What Caused His Death?
Gregory was convicted guilty of capital murder and condemned to death in October 2009.
However, according to the Missouri Supreme Court, Gregory’s kidnap-murder convictions from 1979 were unlawfully entered as testimony, which overturned the death sentence.
In addition, Gregory was shown to be terminally ill and diagnosed with liver disease while awaiting a resentencing hearing.
According to reports, he died of natural causes at the Potosi Correctional Center in Missouri on March 15, 2016. At the time of his death, Gregory was 64 years old.