Our opinion: Unanswered questions
As the fifth and final part of the series — End of Innocence: the unsolved murder of Leigh Bell, 40 years later — appears in today’s edition of the Americus Times-Recorder, there is still no sense of closure, especially for the parents of Leigh Bell, who will probably never have the answers they seek.
The publication of the series has brought up much discussion and conjecture about the case. So many people were living here when it happened and they won’t ever forget the feelings of loss, and genuine fear. They look back from a point four decades later and can only judge the events by today’s standards, which humans are wont to do.
The response to the series received by the Times-Recorder has been 99.99 percent positive.
It has been asked why this series was ever undertaken. That question was answered before but will be answered again. This is the 40th anniversary of the rape and murder of 15-year-old Leigh Bell, and the case was closed in mid-February by District Attorney Lewis Lamb following the death of the last suspect. The Bell family wanted to see the series done.
As Chuck Hanks, retired law enforcement officer, said, they know more about the case now than ever before. Americus Police Detective Maj. Richard McCorkle has said the Bell family has a right to know what happened to their child. These two individuals must be credited with convincing the DA to officially close the case so that the files could finally see the light of day.
But this case is wracked with doubt and suspicion still.
If only the body of Leigh Bell had not been wrapped in a dirty blanket, maybe more evidence could have been found at autopsy.
If only the physical evidence had not disappeared, perhaps modern DNA techniques could have been applied to learn more.
If only authorities had paid attention to the new information presented in 2000, maybe more intelligence could have been gathered.
If only the fire chief had insisted on investigating a suspicious fire in 1979, maybe more could have been known.
Leigh Bell would have been 55 years old today. Only she can relate the truth about what actually transpired on the night of June 6, 1979.