The Ottumwa Courier


January 21, 2014

Original investigator returns to Ottumwa

OTTUMWA — The single witness Tuesday morning essentially gave testimony about testimony. But it was the only way to give voice to some of the statements made nearly 40 years ago.

After Mary Jayne Jones was found murdered in 1974 in a Wapello County farmhouse, police interviewed potential suspects as well as people who could corroborate the statements of those suspects. Some of those subjects have moved; others have died.

Most of the interviews were conducted with retired DCI Special Agent Tim McDonald, who went on to become an assistant director of DCI. In 1974, he was a field agent assigned to assist in the murder investigation. Lead Prosecutor Denise Timmins asked McDonald to read the reports he made.

Several were attempts to determine "a timeline" of Pilcher's locations on and around April 9. The investigator mostly used his old reports. He acknowledged there are details he has personally forgotten about the case when asked by the defense.

But one statement described a situation that appeared to have some similarities to the current prosecution theory of the murder, though it is yet to be determined how significant the report will be in the current trial.

Roma Waterhouse, a woman who had been an acquaintance of the defendant, told DCI investigators she had an encounter with Pilcher. He saw her at the bar and told her he wanted to show her something. She agreed and went with him to the farm west of Ottumwa. That was a few days before Mary Jayne Jones was killed.

When Waterhouse and Pilcher arrived at the farm, "Gene," she told investigators, went rummaging around for something. When he found what he was looking for, he "grabbed her arm, twisted it and pulled her into the back bedroom." He began yanking her clothes off, pushed her down and handcuffed her. He then grabbed her and pulled her false teeth from her mouth. Violently grabbing her head, she reported, he forced her to perform oral sex on him. He was so violent, she feared resisting, she told investigators in 1974. But she was very angry. After he climaxed, she called him "a bastard."

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