The cold case of Betty Gene Hull

The cold case of Betty Gene Hull remains unsolved. On Christmas Eve, 1991, Mrs. Hull was found dead. She was 68 years old. When police arrived, it was immediately clear that whoever is responsible for her death was in a rage and the attack was personal. The attack may have started by knocking Mrs. Hull unconscious, possibly with a TV tray police found off its base and near the body. She had trauma to the head, mouth, and hands, and a bullet hole in her chest. But that is not all. The autopsy revealed that Mrs. Hull had multiple stab wounds in her chest. The stabbing was so forceful, that her lungs were penetrated. Four ribs were broken on the left side of her chest, and five on the right side.

We know the autopsy took place on Dec 31st, because an officer refers to it in a police report. However, the autopsy report itself is missing from the file.

On Dec 24th, Mrs. Hull was going to visit a relative, and her friend, Mrs. Baker, would meet her there. When the relative did not hear from her, she called Mrs. Baker, who went to Mrs. Hull’s home. The relative had tried to reach Mrs. Hull by phone since about 5:00pm. When Mrs. Baker arrived, she saw Mrs. Hull’s car in the garage. There were no lights on in the house. The backdoor was unlocked despite Mrs. Hull’s habit of locking all doors.

Mrs. Baker went inside, and turned on the back porch lights, passed through the kitchen, turning on more lights, and called for her friend. She found her on the floor in the dining room. Since her friend had no pulse, Mrs. Baker became scared and called her son, who contacted the police.

This troubles me:

● There appeared to be hair on the TV tray. Whether the tray was searched for finger prints is not in the report. Neither is there any information whether that hair matched Mrs. Hull’s. We also do not know whether the wound on Mrs. Hull’s head could have been inflicted by a TV tray.

● Police found a tan coloured purse in the kitchen. The purse had some smudges of blood on it. Whether those smudges contained enough blood for a comparison to Mrs. Hull’s blood and the blood spatters on the drapes in the front room is unknown.

● Police found a long butcher’s knife bent at almost 90 degrees. It was tested positive for human blood but, since the stain was consumed during analysis, it may not have been compared to Mrs. Hull’s blood, the smudges on the purse, and the drapes. We also do not know whether the knife’s length is consistent with the stabbing wounds in Mrs. Hull’s chest.

● On January 7, 1992, some lab results came back. There were no signs of a sexual assault, no blood found under the knife handle, and a very small amount of human blood on the knife blade. The purse and TV tray still had to be examined.

Mrs. Baker told police that Mrs. Hull was a very generous woman who helped out neighbours and friends when they needed something. She loaned them money, let people use her phone, and gave people food and rides. However, many of these people asking her for money clearly had no intention of ever paying her back. Police found a host of people whose contradictory and only partly truthful statements presented a veritable conundrum. Most people in Mrs. Hull’s street agreed that many people took advantage of her. Mrs. Hull did not just show her generosity in the many times she would let people use her car, phone, or money. Many times she never pressed people to pay her back, even though she only lived on $1000 per month.

In March 1992, police started to hear rumours through informants about who might be responsible for Mrs. Hull’s murder. Many pointed to a man who not only borrowed money from Mrs. Hull, but also did yard work for her. Police found a source near this man. Let’s call him Mr. X. The source told police that X was drug dependant and had a criminal record. That proved to be correct. It also proved correct that X knew Mrs. Hull. X was questioned over the course of several months and information was gathered. X even took a polygraph test and failed. Interesting enough, one of X’s friends took one too and passed. This friend was told that X was at least present at the time Mrs. Hull was stabbed. Mr. X’s criminal records do show a history of physical violence. He is not always in control of his temper and is capable of becoming violent towards people not posing a physical threat to him. This fits with this case, but, of course, does not offer any proof.

Mr. X has been under suspicion ever since 1992 and was questioned again in 1999. Again, he denied any involvement, but he was visibly shaken when shown a picture of Mrs. Hull. He explained his reaction by stating that he was now a religious man and had lost dear family members.

Mrs. Hull’s case is full of open ends, and there are many gaps in people’s stories and timelines. However, police is confident this case will be solved and so am I. People have clearly been taking advantage of this senior citizen, but nobody felt compelled to stop it. Neighbours told police that Mrs. Hull never seemed to be afraid of people ringing her door bell. She was a trusting older lady who wanted to help and do what is right.

If you have any information, please contact the Champaign Police Department at 217-315-4545.

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  1. […] She gave away money, allowed people to use her address, and donated what she had. But when Betty Gene Hull finally spoke up to stop people from abusing her generosity and hospitality, she was […]