Family murder never solved

My uncle, Frank M. Campbell, was murdered in Fort Collins, Colorado in November 1919 while he was walking to church. The murder was never solved. Some said it was probably a holdup attempt. Some said it was a case of mistaken identity. He was twenty years old, and the loss would haunt my father all his life and, from time to time, it haunts me even now long after the fact.

Some years ago, I tried to find out if the police department had any information. They didn’t. The case was open but too far back in time to be relevant. I even asked a psychic. He told me it was an ether-related crime, this at a time when ether was a drug problem like heroin and cocaine are today. My assumption was that Frank was approached by somebody who needed money to support his habit.

My grandparents and their three other children left Fort Collins and moved to California (the Los Gatos area) where they still were when I was born many years later in Berkeley. I don’t think this kind of crime ever leaves a family unscathed. My father and his two siblings, and of course their parents, carried this moment with them forever.  Even now, over a century later, I find myself angered and perplexed by it.

I wonder as I read the daily news about crimes across the country, when (if ever) the horrific memories of violent crimes ever fade away. I think the survivors never forget even though the news stories are gone with the wind.


Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing


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2 thoughts on “Family murder never solved

  1. What a sad story, Malcolm.

    Humans are rather bad at accepting death, I think. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing or just a thing I do not know. Even an expected death of someone who has led a long and full life is often devastating. The death of someone taken too soon of natural causes is worse. The death of someone ripped violently away from their family is worse still.

    We don’t get so much of the third category over here of course (fewer guns). I avoid writing about violent death in my fiction, arguing (to myself) that it should be possible to make stories exciting using other subjects. Violent thrillers, police procedurals – so much popular culture is predicated on violent death.

    But then a few years ago I learned that the sister of a friend of mine was murdered. I don’t know how it haunts him – but it certainly haunts me, although I never met her. So, at several removes I kind of understand that pain of yours.

    1. Accepting death is part of the equation. The other part is finding the killers when murder, robbery, and home invasion are involved. That’s part of what haunts, I think–that the perpetrators “got away with it” and, as people often say, “will probably do it again to somebody else.

      Thanks for the comment.

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