The Ottumwa Courier


January 21, 2014

Original investigator returns to Ottumwa


During the cross examination, the agent told Cook that he understood Armstrong. That she may get flustered when pressured, but "I’m not going to fire a hundred questions at her in two minutes. It’s clear to me, when she has time to think about it, she can answer things."

She eventually admitted that she and Pilcher had smoked crack together and that it may have been while high that he told her these things; she also admitted to some lies she'd told DCI during a 2012 interview with her.

Cook asked if huffing paint for two years would affect his opinion of a witness' credibility; the agent responded, "I wouldn’t recommend it."

The defense and the prosecution went back and forth on attempts to pinpoint Pilcher's location. They spoke with the retired agent since all of the location information and investigation had been done in 1974.

One of the main issues seemed to be that in two interviews, Pilcher gave two stories. The witness for the prosecution said it appeared to him that Pilcher was attempting to "tighten up his timeline" to account for some of the time he was without an alibi. The defense said the stories aren't all that different.

In the first "version," Pilcher said he took his medication, which makes him drowsy, and took a nap. In the second "version," Pilcher said he took his medication, which makes him drowsy, and sat back in his chair to relax.

But the retired agent's main point for timeline evidence was that Pilcher said he was at his mother-in-law's around 11:30 a.m. the first time and 12:15 p.m. the second time.

The current agent working the case, Schnitker, told the court he reread all the old reports. He said agents had to interview all possible suspects, just as he did when he took on the reopened case. When asked if there was one main suspect, he said there was.

"When the case was closed, the evidence was pointing toward Eugene Pilcher as the person responsible," he said.

— Iowa news reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark


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