The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

January 22, 2014

Last witnesses take stand


"Even though you were romantically involved with Mary Jayne Jones," said Cook, "and she turned up dead, you did not remember her?"

"I didn't, I'm sorry," Nichols said.

He and Cook discussed his old statements, which seemed to leave doubt as to his location around the time of the killing. He agreed that the statements he gave showed he went by the restaurant Jones worked at around noon. On April 9, Cook said, Nichols was supposed to make an appointment at 1 p.m. In a sworn statement from 1974, Nichols' boss said his employee never made it to that appointment.

"Where were you?" asked Cook.

I don't remember, Nichols said.

The witness was then asked if he knew the owner of the farmhouse or if he knew Pilcher. No, he said, he didn't. Had he ever been to the farmhouse? No, he said.

"Why is it you can remember not knowing Max Marlin or ever having been out to a farm house, you can remember those two things, but you can’t remember anything else about this case?"

"I know who I associated with," Nichols explained.

"You just said you couldn’t even remember knowing Mary Jayne Jones, and you had sex with her!" countered Cook.

"That’s true," Nichols said.

Timmins asked if the party lifestyle he lived in the '70s might account for some of the relaxed attitudes he had at the time. His life has changed quite a bit, he acknowledged. It wasn't unusual for him to hook up with ladies for romantic flings. At times, he'd had multiple "girlfriends." He and other young bachelors hung out at the Holiday Inn. He was young. He had, he acknowledged in 1974, slept with Jones. He'd also been getting together with other young women at a time when hanging out, and having fun was a priority to the young people he hung out with in Ottumwa, which was a pretty wild place in the '70s. He was about 22 at the time, making good money and, he admitted when asked by Timmins, he had a reputation as "a player."

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