The Ottumwa Courier


January 21, 2014

Original investigator returns to Ottumwa


Waterhouse said there were guns in the house, that Pilcher bragged about knowing a lot about guns. And that when he drove her back to her car, she believed Gene was indirectly threatening her. But the way she understood it, he was telling her not to repeat a story about drugs he'd told her.

She had been to the house with him once before, she told investigators. On that occasion, the report states, she and Pilcher had "natural" sex.

The afternoon's witness for the prosecution was a current DCI special agent, Don Schnitker. He's the one who found and interviewed "Gene" Pilcher in 2012. And the one who, weeks later, found Pilcher again; that time, he and Wapello County Sheriff Mark Miller arrested Pilcher for the murder of Mary Jayne Jones.

The interview with Pilcher didn't yield much; Timmins, the assistant attorney general, played the audio of the interview. This, Schnitker said on tape, was Pilcher's chance to come clean. To show remorse, a change of heart. To be more truthful than he had been all those years ago.

So. Did Mr. Pilcher know why DCI would want to talk to him? No, said Pilcher. Did he remember something happening in Ottumwa 30 or so years ago? No. Once reminded of the crime, did he remember the victim's name? No.

Agents released Pilcher, dropping him off back of the homeless shelter he'd been staying at. They then went to speak to Pilcher’s most recent girlfriend, Kim Armstrong.

"She told me he'd said that 30, 40 years ago … he told her he 'offed' someone in the Ottumwa-Blakesburg area," Schnitker testified.

Jurors had already met Armstrong in court. She'd appeared, the defense said, confused at that time. Was she that confused during the interview, defense attorney Allen Cook asked the special agent?

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