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Cold case project: 12-year-old boy’s death remains mystery 40 years later


The anonymous phone calls warned that a man's body would be found in a ditch along West Possum Road.

It took Clark County sheriff's deputies four hours to find that body, which was in a field far from the road, and wasn't that of a man, but of a 12-year-old boy: Marvin Lee King, known as Beau. Forty years later, his slaying remains unsolved.

"There are things that haunt you," Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly said on Jan. 25, the 40th anniversary of the day investigators assume Beau died. "This was a child that was left out there and no child deserves to die like that."

The sheriff's office continues to investigate the case, and has recently turned over evidence to the Ohio Bureau of Investigation for forensic testing, Lt. Christopher Clark said.

Beau lived in the Rose Garden Mobile Home Park, off Upper Valley Pike, north of the Upper Valley Mall. An only child, he lived with his mother, Monica. His father lived in Florida, according to news reports at the time.

On Jan. 25, 1973, his mother was working at a local bar, the Bonfire, she told the Springfield Daily News in 1977. Beau called her that evening and she told him she was busy and would call him back. But when she tried, she got no answer. She sent a friend to check on him, but the friend found the trailer door ajar – and no sign of Beau. He had been baking cookies in the kitchen.

Monica left work early and had a friend drive her home. After she spoke to several neighbors, she said, she reported the boy missing. It was about 11:30 p.m.

There were no signs of a struggle, Clark said, and detectives learned that Beau had spoken with some neighbors that night and "everything seemed to be fine."

A neighbor reported seeing Beau get into a dark-colored car, "possibly a 1965 Chevrolet or Pontiac" the Springfield Daily News reported in 1973.

The following day, the anonymous calls started, some of them to a local church.

The last call was to sheriff's dispatch at 9:45 p.m., according to news reports.

Deputies found Beau's body just after 10 p.m. Jan. 26. He was fully clothed, except for a coat, and had been dead for 12 to 16 hours. The sheriff's office later said the boy had been strangled with a nylon clothesline.

Detectives had at least one suspect almost immediately. Then-Sheriff Harold M. Mills told reporters that a "material witness," a 35-year-old Springfield man, was being interrogated at the county jail. A second "material witness" was to be taken in for a polygraph test.

But no one was ever charged in connection with Beau's death.

Clark said detectives are still interested in some of the possible suspects identified at the time of Beau's death.

"It's not like we don't have anything to go on," he said.

Detectives lost contact decades ago with Monica King, a native of England, Clark said, and aren't in contact with any family members.

In 1977, his mother described Beau as an outgoing, friendly boy, possibly too trusting, who didn't understand death. On Beau's last day alive, his pet hamster died, and his mother had to talk with him about death, a conversation that she said haunted her.

Beau's death also haunted his classmates at Simon Kenton Elementary School, which he attended before moving to Northwestern Local Schools. Two former Simon Kenton classmates, Nikki Rice, who now lives in Sarasota County, Fla., and Leslie Freed, of Marin County, Calif., said their friends still talk about Beau when they get together.

When told of the boy's murder, Freed said, "I'm not sure I even knew what it meant."

"He was a thin kid, freckles with blond hair," Freed said. "He looked like Alfalfa from ‘The Little Rascals' but with blond hair. He always had a smile on his face, and was one of the nicest kids I knew in school and still to this day."

Freed said she had a crush on Beau and that "when I refer to people who have boyfriends, I refer to them as Beaus. To me that keeps his memory alive."

Anyone with information about the abduction and death of Beau King should call Clark County Sheriff's dispatch at 937-328-2560.



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