By: Ariel Hunt
“If the girl was wearing a yellow scarf and killed with a screwdriver; my father did it.” said the anonymous woman who left the message.
It happened on September 16, 1968 in a small southern Indiana town. Martinsville, a small place with a big reputation for racial intolerance, had been the site of what Chapman describes as “…one of Indiana’s most notorious cold cases.”
For over 20 years, the murder of Carol Jenkins remained a complete mystery with no legitimate leads or evidence for the investigators to work with. This fact did not stop Chapman from believing that one day the murder of then 21 year-old Jenkins would be solved.
This is the basis of the compelling events Chapman described to a room full of students and administrators earlier this October. We all gathered to hear her speak in an intimate setting at the Hutton Honors College on Indiana University campus.
As an award-winning investigative journalist, Chapman came to discuss her new book “The Girl in the Yellow Scarf”. The book is a candid look into the role she played in the journalistic investigation and coverage of Jenkins murder.
Chapman began by detailing the “…failings of law enforcement and the media…” in this racially motivated crime. The small hometown of the missing young woman had not run a single story over her disappearance. Both state and federal law enforcement had long declared the case “beyond cold”. Due to its historical time and location Jenkins murder had seemingly been forgotten.
Fueled by journalistic passion and a gut-feeling Chapman ran a story over this unsolved crime in the early 2000’s. The story caught the eye of a one-time Martinsville resident. This particular resident had a sister in-law who she suspected could help Chapman in her investigative endeavor.
“If the girl was wearing a yellow scarf and killed with a screwdriver; my father did it.”
This was the unnerving message that would eventually lead Chapman and law enforcement to the tragic truth behind Jenkins unsolved murder. A then seven-year old Shirley McQueen had witnessed the brutal murder from her father’s car and she was finally telling their secret.
The information that Shirley entrusted to Chapman is what ultimately solved Jenkins’ case. It was a long battle Chapman fought to get the truth, but with McQueen’s brave confession and a strong belief in journalistic integrity, her mission, for Carol, was accomplished.
Check out Chapman’s book: The Girl in the Yellow Scarf