This article has been updated. Latest updates will be listed chronologically at the bottom of the text.
CARBONDALE, IL — A woman’s mysterious death last year — dismissed as a “possible” suicide — has led to her family, along with tens of thousands of concerned citizens, still clamoring for justice. When Molly Young turned up shot in the head in her ex-boyfriend’s bedroom — who was incidentally employed by the local police department — circumstances led to her family to claim the investigation was “botched” and rife with preferential treatment for the suspect. Skeptics have been unable to comprehend how two grown men misidentified a bloody gunshot to the head as a drug overdose, how a man did not hear a gun blast emitted in the same room in which he was sleeping, why the gun was found with no fingerprints after discharging on her weak side, and how investigators shrugged off the suspect’s claims that the fresh 6-inch scratches on his side were given to him by Molly’s corpse during CPR attempts.
The tragic end to 21-year-old Molly Young’s life began with a series of events in the early morning hours of March 24th, 2012, when she received a cryptic text message from her ex-boyfriend at 3:28 a.m. requesting help. Author of the text message, Richie Minton, had summoned Young after a night of alleged heavy drinking.
By morning, Young was dead in his apartment from a single gunshot to the head fired from the .45 caliber model 1911 handgun belonging to Minton — a Carbondale Police Department radio dispatcher — who calmly reported to his colleagues that he found her dead next to his bed. What transpired in that apartment is the subject of controversy, but we do have a log of electronic communications from the decedent’s cell phone.
Richie Minton’s 3:28 a.m. text message to Young read: “Help me.” At 3:47 a.m., Young used her phone to call Minton. She headed to Minton’s apartment; the exact time of arrival is unknown.
There were no further electronic communications for about an hour. Only Minton knows what took place in that apartment.
Around 4:40 a.m., an inexplicable text message was sent from Young’s phone to Minton’s roommate, Wesley Romack, who was allegedly not home at the time. The author of the message indicated the intention to commit suicide via a gunshot to the head. This is the last known communication from Molly Young’s phone.
Romack allegedly returned to the apartment at approximately 5:45 a.m. He saw Young’s purse and shoes, and found Minton asleep in bed. At 5:47 a.m. his phone transmitted a text message to Young: “He’s asleep now, I just got home.” This communication leaves us with a lot of questions, considering Young had apparently sent Romack a text an hour earlier indicating her intention to shoot herself in the head.
Molly Young may have been already dead at this time. It is estimated by the Jackson County Coroner that the time of death occurred sometime between 4:45 and 5:45 a.m.
Romack supposedly went to sleep about 7:30 a.m.; nothing indicates that he checked in on Young’s condition after arriving at the apartment. That leaves only a two hour window — from the 3:47 a.m. phone call to Romack’s arrival at 5:45 a.m. — for her to have been shot without Romack being a witness. As Charles Lamont, the spokesperson for the Young family, stated, “The only other person we know was there was Richie Minton, we want to know his story.”
According to the report he initially gave the Carbondale Police Department, Minton awoke sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. to find Young’s lifeless body on the floor next to his bed. He woke up his roommate, and a 9-1-1 call was logged at 9:02 a.m.
Romack placed the emergency call because Minton claimed that he could not find his phone. He began the call, saying to the dispatcher, “We have a person in my living facilities that we believe to be dead.”
Romack then handed the phone to Minton who told the operator, “I woke up and she was covered in blood. She overdosed, she bled out through her nose.” He then inquires the identity of the 9-1-1 operator by addressing her name questioningly, “Amber?” The dispatcher affirmed, “Yeah?” When Minton knew exactly who he was talking to, he stoically gave his version of the situation: “This is Richie, my girlfriend just committed suicide.”
Audio from the 9-1-1 call is available here. The call was placed around four to five hours after her death, according to the coroner’s estimate.
I was not until after the 9-1-1 phone call that Minton and Romack allegedly first discovered the bloody gunshot wound. In fact, Minton claims he didn’t see the wound until he started CPR attempts — which he waited until after the phone call to begin. According to the Carbondale Times:
“Mr. Minton stated that he had attempted to do CPR on Ms. Young,” an Illinois State Police special agent said at January inquest proceedings. “During the course of that, he discovered the gunshot wound. Before he discovered the gunshot wound, he had his roommate call 9-1-1, and then during the course of attempting to I guess treat or resuscitate Ms. Young, Mr. Minton then discovered the gunshot wound.”
First responders arrived at 9:15 a.m., entered the apartment, found the body, and got Minton to answer a few brief questions.
Because Richie Minton was an employee of the local police department, the investigation quickly was handed to the Illinois State Police. According to The Southern Illinoisan, state police were called as early as 9:05 a.m., before the Carbondale Police investigator arrived on the scene. Carbondale Police Chief Jody O’Guinn stated that the Illinois State Police “was asked to assist to erase public doubt about any potential conflict of interest if Carbondale police handled the investigation.”
The Carbondale Times reported that Larry Young and the rest of Molly’s family expressed frustration that several hours (approximately seven to eight) passed between his daughter’s death and the time when family first was notified. Contrast that with the quick arrival of Minton’s parents, who arrived at Young’s death scene ready with a lawyer, within an hour of the 9-1-1 call (approximately 10:00 a.m., according to this timeline). The Mintons are both employees of local police departments; Deputy Richard “Flip” Minton is the Franklin Sheriff’s Office Cyber Crimes Unit Investigator. They were somehow notified and arrived on scene before the Illinois State Police investigators. Molly Young’s parents would not be notified of their daughter’s death until approximately 12:00 P.M. that afternoon.
There is some speculation that Minton received preferential treatment from the Carbondale police before the State Police arrived. Lt. Stan Diggs, ISP investigator, said that Minton “already had an attorney present when State Police investigators arrived that morning.” Lt. Diggs also said the Carbondale police were “allowing him some latitudes” before State Police arrived. Once State Police assumed control of the investigation, Minton quickly lawyered-up and refused to be interviewed any further by ISP investigators, and, has subsequently been described by Lt. Diggs as “not being real accommodating with us.”
According to a Carbondale Times interview with Lt. Stan Diggs, Minton was allowed to change his clothing and wash his hands prior to going to the Carbondale Police Department for questioning. Then, two days later, in a Southern Illinoisan article, Lt. Diggs disputed the report stating that it was “Absolutely not the case,” adding, “I know the Carbondale Police Department called and asked us to investigate this before their head investigator arrived on the scene.”
A quest for justice
Molly’s father, Larry Young, is calling for her case to be re-investigated and her cause of death to be reconsidered in light of newly obtained police reports.
He refuses to accept the official conclusion that the “possibility” of her death being a suicide remains the most plausible explanation of what occurred in the early morning hours at her ex-boyfriend’s apartment. Mr. Young finds it unbelievable that Molly, who had virtually no familiarity with firearms, managed to shoot herself in the upper left side of her head using her non-dominant hand. Investigators were unable to pull any fingerprints from the pistol, which belonged to Richie Minton and was in her possession without explanation.
Larry Young stated in an interview with ABC News that he believes the original investigation was “botched.” He knows in is heart that she didn’t shoot herself. “She didn’t [commit suicide], it’s obvious. … It disgusts me that a young woman could lose her life like that and no one seems to care.” Larry Young has openly stated that he believes the investigators were protecting Minton because he worked for the police department. He even contacted a local radio station to publicly offer a cash reward for anyone who can help bring his daughter’s “killer” to justice.
Upon reviewing Minton’s call to police, he commented to WSIL-TV:
“That 911 tape tells it all. The guy’s so calm on the 911 tape you’d think he was ordering a pizza or something.”
“There is no doubt in my mind somebody murdered my daughter,” Larry Young told KMOV-TV. “There’s one person, the main suspect, he refuses to be interviewed by state police since it began.”
An “Undetermined” cause of death
More than one year has passed since the death of Molly Young, yet no charges have ever been brought against anyone connected to her during her last moments. When Jackson County Prosecutor Mike Carr last spoke publicly about the case in August of 2013, he insisted that there was “compelling, though not conclusive, evidence that (Molly’s) death was self-inflicted,” adding, “It was also determined that there was no forensic or physical evidence . . . to conclusively support the possibility of a homicidal death.” He believes the evidence in the case points strongly to the “possibility” of Molly Young having committed suicide, and that, in his opinion, there was not “sufficient, admissible evidence for the prosecutor to believe that he can convince twelve out of twelve people, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a criminal offense has been committed.”
In January, 2013, a six-person coroner’s jury convened to hear the State’s evidence and rule on the manner of Molly Young’s death. Not being a formal trial, the jury was presented with a 100-page coroner’s report and the evidence at hand — some of which the family believes was presented to slant the jury towards concluding suicide. The jury told that Young was on anti-depressants and was shown writings of Young’s that expressed feelings of depression. “I don’t want to exist. I wish I just had the ability to disappear, and for no one to remember me,” wrote Molly, more than a year prior to her death. The jury was presented with this un-dated evidence as if it were written recently; as if it was Young’s suicide letter.
The autopsy report concluded that the bullet entered about 1.5 inches above her left eyebrow and about 2.5 inches to the left of midline. The bullet entered from the left side of her head and went backward and slightly downward.
When presented with the options of “suicide,” “homicide,” and “undetermined” the coroner’s jury ultimately selected “undetermined” as the cause of Molly Young’s death.
And that’s where the case stands. An “undetermined” cause of death has allowed the case to go cold.
Richie Minton claimed to have been too hung-over to remember hearing a gunshot mere feet from where he is supposedly sleeping, but then stated on the phone with absolute certainty that Molly Young committed suicide by drug overdose. He somehow overlooked the hole in her head, failed to notice her blood spattered on his own clothes and around the room, but immediately recognized a trickle of blood from her nose as the sure sign of a drug overdose.
Minton was scheduled to be at work at 7:00 a.m. The official police report states that Minton’s coworker had called his phone sometime before 8:10 a.m. and would be making repeat attempts to contact him. Yet it was not until 9:02 a.m. when the 9-1-1 phone call was finally made. It is peculiar that Minton apparently made no effort to wake up at an appropriate time to go to work, and that he slept through multiple phone calls.
The text message conversation between Romack and Young remains unexplained. First of all, was Young in control of her phone when the apparent suicide threat was transmitted? And what can be made of Romack’s strange response: “He’s asleep now, I just got home.” Could this message have been sent to create an electronic record of his supposed time of arrival at the apartment?
Why did Romack not check on Young when he arrived after reading her disturbed message? And how did Romack determine that Minton was asleep without noticing Young’s body in the same room? The responding officer wrote in the police report that the body was visible in the bedroom when the officer “barely stepped over the threshold.”
Minton stated on the phone without hesitation that Young committed suicide, which exhibits that he was projecting the belief that her death — her “overdose” — could not have been accidental. How Minton and Romack were unable to identify the .45 caliber hole in her head and miss the accompanying bloody mess is a complete mystery that only he can explain.
Toxicology reports confirmed that there were “no abnormal levels of drugs in Young’s body,” drawing even more questions about Minton’s inexplicable determination that Young had died of an intentional drug overdose. She also had no alcohol in her system.
Signs of a struggle
Larry Young’s has been relentlessly working to expose the truth about his daughter’s death. In June 2013, he wrote to the fans of Justice For Molly on Facebook:
“It hurts extremely to tell the facts of the case but I feel that it is necessary so that members of this group and the general public know what a TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE this really is. There were signs of a struggle! Not only did Molly have multiple bruises, Richie Minton had two fresh six inch scratches on his side under his arm!” — Larry Young
These claims are true and can be verified in the Illinois State Police reports. They were discovered at the police station when Minton was submitting evidence.
The only thing more extraordinary than Minton and his roommate overlooking a gaping bullet wound was the excuse Minton used when asked about the fresh wounds on his body.
The Carbondale Times reported in August 2013:
Early that afternoon, Minton’s attorney advised ISP personnel that Minton was ready to submit to a test for gunshot residue on his hands. After the test was administered, Minton agreed to allow investigators to collect his clothing, and two Carbondale sergeants and an ISP investigator accompanied Minton to the locker room, according to police reports.
There, they observed “two scratches that were about 6 inches long on Minton’s right side,” according to a report written by one of the sergeants. “The scratches appeared to be new, and ran horizontal a few inches below his right armpit. [One investigator] asked Minton what happened. Minton walked to a mirror and looked at the scratches. Minton began speaking in a low voice … He seemed to have not been aware that the scratches existed until they were pointed out.”
According to a separate ISP report, Minton told the men he must have gotten the scratches while giving Young CPR — a response that provoked incredulity from an ISP master sergeant in a September 2012 communication with a fellow investigator.
“I did see in an interview that [Minton’s] response was that it must have happened when he was giving her CPR. (I can’t believe that one.)” the master sergeant wrote.
What’s more, is that DNA evidence was found underneath Young’s fingernails. That evidence was then analyzed by a state laboratory and determined to match Richie Minton’s DNA, according to the Carbondale Times.
Police on scene before the 9-1-1 call
There is one supremely odd detail that nobody is willing or able to explain. Multiple neighbors state that the police were on the scene 1-2 hours before the 9-1-1 call was placed.
The interviews performed by the I-Team at KFVS-12 Heartland News put a whole new twist on this already strange case.
One tenant, who wishes to not be identified, lives near the apartment where Richie Minton lived.
She talked about what she remembered.
“I got up around 7 or 8, and a police officer woman was knocking on my door,” said the tenant.
Heartland News questioned her timing, because again the 911 call wasn’t made until a little after 9.
Crystal Britt asked, “Are you sure the officers were here before 9 a.m ?” The tenant responded, “Yeah, I’m sure I usually am up because I have kids.”
Perhaps her memory doesn’t serve her right. But then, Heartland News met another tenant who doesn’t know the first woman who was interviewed.
She recalled the same officer that Saturday morning.
“She was at my door a little after seven, no doubt about it. She was at my door,” said the other tenant.
As for what the officer told her?
“She said there’s been a homicide.”
This evidence leaves us with a lot more questions. Who told this uniformed woman about the “homicide”? Who was she? Why are police disavowing knowledge of the responding police officer?
O’Guinn adamantly denies that any officer was alerted to the homicide before the 9-1-1 call at 9:02 a.m. But witnesses just as adamantly reject that claim. “I know of at least 5 individuals who could vouch for that,” stated one neighbor who saw the officer earlier than official records admit.
To fit this information with the existing facts, we are left with four possible (not necessarily plausible) scenarios:
Scenario #1. A phantom cop. Multiple witnesses, telling the same story, are all mistaken about seeing a mysterious police officer around the premises before the official story would allow. All of them either made it up, or all of them got the time wrong.
Scenario #2. Wake up call. A mysterious police officer was sent to wake up Minton, who was late to work. This scenario, posed by the chief of police, fails to account for why the witnesses said the officer was investigating a homicide. It also implies that a police employee (possibly multiple employees) has remained quiet since March 2012 about the attempt to fetch Minton for work. Even O’Guinn seemed to indicate that this scenario was unlikely.
Scenario #3. An outsider alerted police. The mysterious police officer was alerted to the “homicide” by someone outside the apartment. For example, someone might have heard the gunshot and called police. If this case, why do the police have no record or knowledge of the officer’s investigation? Why would the response have come hours after the gunshot? And why hasn’t this officer come forward after all this time? Did the officer knock on Minton’s door? Did the officer give up without finding the “homicide”?
Scenario #4. The official story is a lie. The mysterious police officer was alerted to the “homicide” by someone inside the apartment: namely Minton or Romack. Without speculating motives and guilt, this scenario would necessitate that the two roommates lied on the official police report, that they were awake earlier than reported, and at least one uniformed individual knew of the dead girl without reporting it — and to this day has remained quiet.
Scenarios #1, #2, and #3 each seem more implausible than the last. All the scenarios involve either lies, false statements, or concealed facts.
Justice For Molly
Despite all the the evidence of a struggle, Minton’s implausible excuses, and the bizarre circumstances surrounding the death, Minton remains a free man and has never been charged or even questioned by Illinois State Police investigators about his involvement in the death of Molly Young in his apartment with his handgun. Join us, and the Young family, in calling for Justice for Molly.
UPDATE: “Suicide” searches on Molly’s computer while she had an alibi
A friend that Molly was with the night prior to her death has been interviewed by the KFVS I-Team. Cullen Stout says the night before her death, the two attended a concert that she had suggested. “We went to celebrate the next chapter of her life,” he said.
The two were together from approximately 8-9 p.m. on March 22nd until 1:30-2:oo a.m. on March 23rd. During that time, there are time-stamped searches for “suicide” that showed up on Molly’s computer. Stout says there were numerous people who witnessed them out together and Molly was not on a computer reading about suicide.
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At this point in the case, public pressure may be the only way to motivate the authorities in Illinois to reconsider and give Molly Young and her family the same measure of justice they would demand for themselves.
Carbondale Mayor: Joel Fritzler
City Officials of the City of Carbondale, Illinois
200 South Illinois Avenue
Carbondale, Illinois 62901
City Hall Office: (618) 457-3229
City Hall Fax: (618) 351-5766
Chief of Police: Jody O’Guinn
Phone: (618) 457-3200 Ext. 421