Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Carole Brinkman Unsolved Murder Mystery

This is not really genealogy, but it involves, newspapers, archives and a little bit of internet research knowledge.

Here is a back and forth with my cousin via Facebook....

Message 1:
"Hi Heather -

So I am about to embark on a project to reunite some very old photos with their owner.

Last year I purchased an old Kodak camera off of eBay, and when it arrived it still had a roll of very old film in it. I had the film developed through an archivist and there turned out to be some images on it. They look like they're from around the 50s or early 60s, and they clearly show some kids and family members at what might have been Christmas.

The camera came in its original box, with a camera store label on it as well as a woman's name. The camera store was Lumpkin Camera Store in Greenville, OH (no longer in operation) and the name on the box written in pen was Carole Brinkman."

I looked up Carole Brinkman on and I think I found her, but she's no longer living. The note I found was a death record from Darke County, no city listing that I could see, but Greenville OH (where the store was) is in Darke County, so I figure it must be her.

The problem is that I don't really know where to go from here. I was thinking about subscribing to to find more details, but thought I should ask the expert first. What kind of advice can you give me on how to move forward on finding some of these folks?"

My Reply:
"I love a good mystery! This one is pretty cool...

First, there is a very good genealogist named Maureen Taylor. She is known as the photo detective. Her website is and she takes queries. There are some other genealogists that specialize in old photos, too, at NEHGS in Boston. I usually look at obits to find next of kin. What was the date of death? I have a subscription to and a few other data bases, so I can do a few lookups for you. There are genealogy volunteers at who might be in Darke county and can probably assist, too. Send me the details (date of death, etc.) and I'll start on line. We can take it from there.


[In the meantime I found some disturbing newspaper articles on the website. Carole Brinkman was a young cashier, age 24, shot dead at a drive in movie theater in Greenville, Ohio, in July, 1967.]

Message 2:
"Matt, I sent you an article in the Greenville Newspaper about the death of Carole Brinkman. See the bottom of the page, "Cashier shot" I sent it to your email address. Spooky..."

The reply:

"Wow! Heather you are good! and yes, that is indeed very spooky. I found this on a search too: look at page 50. It's a notice in Boxoffice Magazine about the shooting."

Message 3:
"Matt, at this point perhaps the Greenville police department will have records of the next of kin. Her parents are probably not living (but you never know) and maybe she had siblings. It's weird that I can't find an obituary. She is buried at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Neave Township, Ohio (also called the Ft. Jefferson Cemetery) Carole Mae Brinkman, age 24
Also Found on under Ohio Death Records
Carole M. Brinkman, b. 1943, female, white, res. Greenville, Darke Co., Ohio, died 27 Jul 1967 at Wayne Hospital, Greenville, certificate 51810, age 24, certified by the coroner, no autopsy, never married.
Doesn't list parents or next of kin."

The reply:
"I think I'm going to give the Greenville police a call. I'll let you know what I find out. I'm going to start posting this up on my blog. Thanks so much for the help!"

[Matt’s blog is ]

Message 4:
"This is pretty exciting! I had the film developed last year and have been sitting on it since. I never thought it would lead me to an unsolved murder. Pretty crazy.
I spoke with Chief Whittaker of the Greenville Sherriff's department. He was really nice. I am going to email him the photos tonight, and he's going to see if he can find some of her family. They immediately knew who I was talking about, without me even mentioning the crime. He said he talked with her mom about 4 years ago and she wasn't interested in new evidence they had found, so it might end up being that she's not interested in the photos, and he's not even sure if her mom is still alive. Still, he's going to see about finding some relatives.

I'll know more tomorrow."

This was all last week. We are still waiting to find out more.

UPDATE- Matt was able to return the film to the chief of police, who gave it to one of Carole's relatives.  The crime is still listed as "unsolved".

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Holy cow! Wouldn't it be interesting if something in the just developed photos would be a key to solving this murder.

  2. Now that was fun! Waiting for the next installment. Hope the relatives are interested in the picts ---- or even better to my mind, y'all solve the murder with the mysterious camera and pictures. Thanks for a fun read.

  3. This is one of those side alleys of genealogy that is so much fun - thanks for posting this. You know we're all going to be waiting to hear more!

  4. The whole thing is amazing. Starting with the roll of film. You are lucky to have a cousin who is into genealogy, bet it is fun. Keep us posted on this story.

  5. I live in Greenville Ohio and they just started cleaning up the property where the drive-in used to be. I wonder if they will find anything?

  6. Here is a photo of the drive-in currently.

  7. It is still sad that this case has not been solved I am a cousin of hers and this happened when I was 3 y/o.

    I aslo don't know alot about it. but 40 years ago we did not have the means we do now to investigate a crime such as this,

  8. I am the great neice of Carole, my dad was 7 when she was killed. She does have one sister still living, but the family never speaks of this incident. I always knew that my grandma had a sister, but I didn't know much more than that until our local paper published a story about the murder when new leads appeared while I was in high school. I don't know if anyone ever contacted you about the pictures, but I would love to have them. I have sort of become the family historian for my generation. To my knowledge, Carole's sister has no interest in dredging up the past, but I am quite intrigued by the whole sad story.

  9. I wa 6 yrs old, but remember my parents and cousins and other people talking about it. It is a shame that they never got the people or (Person) that did this. 44 yrs has passed, and me at a new job, I am now working with the Cousin of Carole. I want to so bad to help Carole's cousin out. I have always wanted to be a investigator and it is time now that I get my feet wet, I plan on going out this weekend and checking on the grounds, If the new owner lets me! wish me luck!!!

  10. Candice and others, please contact the chief of police in Greenville, Ohio for more information. He has returned the photos to a member of Carole's family.

  11. Regardless if the family wants to hear new evidence or not, this terrible crime of a drive-by shooting needs to be further investigated and solved. Thank you for the purchase of the camera and the return to it to her family.

  12. I lived in Greenville at the time. Went to the drive in theater often. The shooting of Carole Brinkman or anyone for that matter was just not something that happened there. I always found it odd that there was no autopsy done. Makes one wonder. Could she have been pregnant...carrying someone's baby? What other possible motives might have been uncovered? Guess we will never know.

  13. Its the Darke County Sheriff that has the case. The pictures have been picked up and had nothing to do with the case.

  14. My name is Julie, Im a great niece. My mom and I actually picked up the pictues after i found this site. The pictures had nothing to do with the murder and was just of a birthday or family gathering. The case is still open and unsolved, but it is at the Darke County Sheriff's Dept. I have tried to get unsolved mysteries or Crime stoppers to post something, but have not had any luck. Like Candice said our family never really said much and never wanted to talk about this. It really affected the family that much. I actually live in the house that Carole grew up in and i have done some research just to have some closure to the unsettling occurance. I just wish my great grandparents would of had closure before they passed.

  15. Carole was shot in the neck and bled to dealth, why would you to autopsy? The bullet hit her jugular vein. Did they even do them then?

  16. My husband worked the Darke Co. Sheriff's Dept back in '71. He said Carole had an on-again, off-again relationship with a man who had a violent temper & history. My husband had said there were many things that linked the boyfriend to the shooting, but they never could find the gun that shot her to positively link him to the crime. But he had means, motive and opportunity. Plus, he clearly came just to kill her. No one else was harmed, no money taken, he shot her in the face and fled. From what my spouse had explained to me it was one of those "unsolved" cases because the police knew who did it but didn't have enough evidence to hold up in a court of law and of course they're not going to be lucky enough for a confession. So therefore the case goes as "unsolved" because basically it's "solved" without a conviction.

  17. I was just looking up drive-in movies for an eve out tonight and my eye caught this blog! I was actually AT the movies the night Carole was killed!! I was in Jr. Hi. and went w/ my younger sis and 2 family friends to the movies that night. One of the girlfriends was in High School and worked in the concession stand that night! Deb got Carole's "gurgling" call to come help her. Deb ran out to the ticket collection booth at the entrance on that lonely country road and found Carole (why was she out there alone??).
    Deb, of course, was nearly in shock, nevertheless rushed to our car to drive us all across town to her home. She told us very few details: Carole was all bloody and couldn't talk back to Deb. Deb tried to stem the bleeding and then called someone else for help.
    The police came to Deb's house once we got there to interview her - I think she was "swooning" or about to pass out. My own parents came to pick us up and Deb's parents put her to bed.
    Although our two families remained good friends for many years, I don't remember ever talking about this with Deb again nor with my own family. How different life is now! If one of my own children or grandchildren had witnessed such a horror, I know I would be talking it out every day and praying for the families and somehow becoming involved in positive community healing. Back then, we gasped, then shut it down, hoping it would go away. I suspect that is how Carole's family approached this tragedy.
    It felt somehow comforting to feel just a bit of closure for our community to read in your blog that poor Carole had been involved w/ such a violent man. (I had never heard this before - I did not know Carole nor her family.) It is, of course, awful that, as far as we know, he was never brought to justice, but it does take some of the fearful mystery out of this crime.
    The internet is truly amazing!! God rest Carole's soul and bring healing to any of her family.


  18. Since seeing this post last night, August 25, 2014 I have been in contact with Sheriff Todd Spencer, of Darke County Ohio. This murder has haunted me over the years. I was a teenage boy in Union City, Indiana when it happened. I could not remember the victim's name and never heard the story about the violent man. However, a friend lived with his uncle who worked at a factory in Greenville, maybe Fram (sp?). He told the nephew that either someone at the factory was bragging about committing the crime or that everyone knew who did it. They were all apparently afraid to become involved. If the 1967 roster of that factory's workers includes the violent man, I think, in all probability, he is the killer.

    KIrby Whitacre

  19. If I recall correctly, the murder was committed with a rifle from a distance, like an assassination. If that is correct, Carol probably never saw her killer.

  20. I'm currently working on a newspaper article about the 5oth anniversary of Carole's death. According to contemporaneous newspaper accounts I've read, there had to have been some kind of postmortem done, as they were able to determine the caliber of the bullet (despite the fact the bullet was never found). News accounts at the time say it could have come from either a handgun OR a rifle.

    News accounts also specify that a male co-worker in the projection booth is the one who received the call, and afterwards went out to the ticket booth and found Carole.