I’ll never forget the thrill I felt when I found the clipping titled, “Skeleton Found in August, 1965 is Identified.” I don’t remember what I searched or how I located it – maybe just “skeleton” and “Waverly Hills.” This was the clip that gave Babyface a name.
I’ll never forget the thrill I felt on Sunday when I found a post on findagrave.com – “flowers” left on Carolyn’s virtual grave in 2017. This time it was a sixth month subscription to Ancestry.com and a genealogical search that brought me to that page. And the words…
“The horrible Frank Loften that murdered you…and that great detective Hildebrand that solved your murder…”
According to the author of this post, self-identified as a close friend and cousin by marriage to Carolyn, Frank Loften had been incarcerated in Indiana for a different murder and Hildebrand had gone each time he was up for parole to try to have him extradited to KY and tried for Carolyn’s murder.
Talk about a jaw drop. Laughing from excitement, joy, and disbelief. Throwing my hands up and stopping my whoop of triumph just in time – I was sitting in a coffee shop, not the best place for…whooping.
Hold this joy, embrace it!
Because it’s been four days and I’ve gotten nowhere with this new information.
After trying multiple spellings of Hillenbrandt, the only Donald I’ve located was born in 1936 and died in 1972. This would have made him 29 at the time of Carolyn’s skeleton’s discovery. This works. But I can’t locate anything else about him (besides his burial spot). I can’t tie him to the Jefferson County Police. I can’t locate his name anywhere else in the Courier Journal (thank you, LFPL and ProQuest).
And Frank Loften? Nothing. I found a James Loften born in 1948 incarcerated for murder in Indiana (convicted in Floyd County). But he wasn’t convicted until 1976, and he would have only been 17 at the time of Carolyn’s disappearance. While his age isn’t impossible, it’s not likely, and if he were convicted in 1976, the Hillenbrandt I found would already be dead and not able to attend his parole hearings, corporeally at least.
So here I find myself, going over the same records trying to find something I’ve missed, trying to be patient as I click to the next page of search results across multiple search engines, trying any BOOLEAN combination I can think of.
What’s next? Well, I wrote this post. I’m considering messaging the user who posted on FindAGrave.com. But that feels…intimate. Scary. Rude. I’m not sure about that yet.
I already have more answers than I thought I would. She had a best friend who was still thinking about her and talking to her in 2017. There was a man who met her skeleton in 1965 and apparently never gave up looking for justice for her. She was my dad’s step-cousin. And she was lovely.