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.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

Tennessee man cleared of conviction after 31 years in prison awarded $1 million
Tennessee man cleared of conviction after 31 years in prison awarded $1 million

A Tennessee man cleared of a rape and burglary conviction after spending 31 years in prison was awarded $1 million by the Tennessee Board of Claims, The Tennessean reported. Lawrence McKinney, 61, was awarded the cash after a unanimous vote by the board. He was released from prison in 2009 because of new DNA evidence that cleared him of rape and...
Airline crew member caught with 9 pounds of cocaine taped to legs
Airline crew member caught with 9 pounds of cocaine taped to legs

Federal agents arrested a crew member of Fly Jamaica Airways for allegedly attempting to smuggle bags of cocaine into the United States by taping them to his legs, according to a statement by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. On March 17, the man was taken to a private search room at JFK International Airport, CNN reported. The flight had...
Protesters delay start of NBA game over fatal shooting by Sacramento police
Protesters delay start of NBA game over fatal shooting by Sacramento police

Protesters in Sacramento, California, blocked the entrance to an arena where an NBA game was scheduled Thursday night, CNN reported. People holding signs such as “Shut it down!” outside the Golden1 Center demonstrated against Sunday’s fatal shooting of Stephon Clark, ESPN reported. Clark, 22, an unarmed black man, was...
Florida girl says she should be allowed to play on boys' flag football team
Florida girl says she should be allowed to play on boys' flag football team

A group of Florida junior high school students lost their final flag football game of the season Thursday, but they won an equal opportunity fight for boys and girls. Forget powder puff. Armoni Peppers knows how to play with the boys. "She's awesome. I love her," coach Bobby Burke said. "She's aggressive. She can catch." Peppers...
Senate approves $1.3 trillion spending bill
Senate approves $1.3 trillion spending bill

The Senate approved a $1.3 trillion spending measure early Friday morning, The New York Times reported. The Senate voted 65-32 in favor of the measure, which will keep the federal government open through September; On Thursday, the House passed the bill by a 256-167 margin. The measure, which was 2,232 pages in length, was passed less than...
More Stories