Professor's Murder Remains Unsolved Three Years Later, Police Not Giving Up

By: Casey Wheeless Email
By: Casey Wheeless Email

Nearly three years ago on November 22nd 2009, the parking lot of the Bowling Green Parks and Rec. was the scene of a brutal murder.

Now, it's leaving police with many questions left unanswered, but, they say they're not giving up.

Lead investigator on the case, Detective Melinda Jones, says they're still searching for who did this,
"someone out there knows what happened to Bettina Richmond," she says.

51-year-old Bettina Richmond went to the Bowling Green Parks and Rec. to play racquetball, just like she did often, but this time she would not return home.

"Mr. Richmond actually found her," says Detective Jones, "when she left earlier in the evening, she went to play racquetball, she didn't return home in what he thought was a reasonable amount of time, that's when he found her"

She was found stabbed to death in her Honda Odyssey van when her husband Tom Richmond found her just before 11:00.

Police say a passer-by, then called 911.

"There was a lot of blood," says Jones.

Surveillance footage shows Bettina leaving Parks and Rec., that's the last time she was seen alive.

In her hand were rackets and a duffel bag, the bag was missing from the scene of her murder.

Bettina was a math professor at Western Kentucky University, the school and community were in disbelief after they heard the news.

Dr. Lance Hahn, also a professor at WKU says it shook the entire campus, "it was the week before Thanksgiving so it took a while for everyone to find out but it was just like, how could this happen. Just shock!"

Two weeks later Bettinas WKU ID card was found in a mailbox on Crewdson Drive.

Investigators believe that ID card may have been inside the missing duffel bag.

"We were hoping it was the suspect that placed it there," says Jones, "or someone involved in the case, but nothing came of it. Someone could have found it on the ground and just put in in that mailbox."

Months after the murder, friends and family members put together a 10,000 dollar reward for information leading to a conviction.

After about a year without any useful information, the reward was doubled.

"What we hope is to just give some closure in this case," says Dr. Hahn, "we are offering a monetary reward for any information about the ID in the mailbox, the crime scene itself, or anything that might lead to a conviction in the case."

Bettina's husband Tom, talked about the reward when it first came into place in 2009.

"Bettina brought so much joy to our family and that can't be replaced," he said, "Her friends and relatives have been so great through this. I am hoping this reward will help police solve this"

Still grieving the loss of his wife, he says they want closure, "we struggle daily with our senseless loss and urge anyone with information to please report it to the police."

"Just stop and put yourself in their position," says Jones, "would you want somebody to help? Because we're asking people to help."

With hundreds of pieces of evidence, investigators say it will take years to process all of it.

From the clothes Bettina was wearing, to the napkin on the floorboard.

Investigators are hoping as this evidence comes back, it will lead them to more clues.

Warren County Commonwealth Attorney Chris Cohron says investigators aren't giving up," any homicide case that is open, we are always working off multiple theories. The info we receive, many times, no matter how old the case is, those leads are followed up. Thankfully, over the past few years we've been able to solve some cases we thought would never be solved," says Cohron.

Cohron says a conviction in this case, could mean the ultimate penalty.

"There are several cases of homicides, but in the most serious cases they are eligible for the death penalty."

"People talk about the need for closure, but for me Bettina's place in our hearts will never be closed," says her husband, Tom.

Police are urging anyone who may know something to contact them at 270-781-CLUE, or join the Richmond Reward Fund Facebook page to help.

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