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Man Returns To Face Charges In 37-Year-Old Slaying Case

January 27, 1988 GMT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A 66-year-old former Ferris wheel operator stepped off a train from Nebraska into a swirling snowstorm on Tuesday to face murder charges in the strangling of an 8-year-old girl at a carnival in 1951.

William Henry Redmond, accompanied by Malcolm Murphy, the Pennsylvania state trooper who had reopened the case in 1985, held a yellow towel in front of his face and refused to speak to reporters waiting at the station in suburban Paoli.

Redmond, who had been arrested twice a half-century ago for attacking girls but apparently lived a quiet life in Nebraska, ″has made a statement to police inculpating himself″ in the slaying of Jane Marie Althoff, said Delaware County District Attorney William Ryan.

He was arraigned on nine charges, including criminal homicide, murder, involuntary manslaughter, kidnapping, simple assault, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, indecent assault and endangering the welfare of children.

He was sent to the county prison without bail. District Justice George W. Paige set a preliminary hearing for Feb. 8.

Blond, blue-eyed Jane Marie was found dead April 26, 1951, in a truck on the grounds of a Penn-Premier Show carnival in Trainer.

She had gone to the carnival the day before with her brothers, 6-year-old Paul and 16-year-old Lamarr, according to news accounts from the time, but the older boy was not allowed to take his bicycle on the grounds and left the young children there.

Jane Marie was seen whispering to Redmond and told a friend she had a secret with him, according to the reports. She was strangled that night.

Police said Redmond’s fingerprints were found throughout the truck cab. A warrant for his arrest for questioning was issued in January 1952, but apparently was never served because he could not be located.

Without taking time to pick up his paycheck, he had left the carnival after it stopped in Lock Haven, in central Pennsylvania.

Murphy began looking into the 900-page file on the killing in October 1985 after Trainer Police Chief Hugh Morris asked troopers if they had any records on the death.

Morris had never seen any, though he and many other recalled the case.

Whenever such a crime occurs, Morris said, ″It’s never forgotten by any police officer.″

Murphy remembered that the county had handled the investigation and the file was located in the county archives.

His focus turned to Redmond.

″Because I knew his name and his date of birth I was able to run his name through the computer, and his name turned up in the Nebraska motor vehicle files,″ he said.

He arrested the unemployed truck driver on Friday in Grand Island, Neb. Murphy said he made the arrest on the basis of a conversation with Redmond, but declined to disclose details.

The two took a train back to Philadelphia because of Redmond’s health. The elderly man has emphysema.

Redmond had lived in Grand Island since 1963, said Lt. Gregg Ahlers of the Hall County Sheriff’s Department.

″So far as we know, he has been leading a quiet life,″ Murphy said.

According to an affidavit filed by Murphy in Nebraska, Redmond was arrested twice in the mid-1930s for attacking girls and was sentenced to the Ohio State Reformatory and the Ohio State Mental Hospital.

Because of his history, Nebraska police are investigating whether Redmond was involved in the Aug. 13 disappearance of 9-year-old Jill Cutshall of Norfolk, Neb., but no link has been found, said Norfolk Police Chief Bill Mizner.