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Small-town murder mystery slowly unfolds

Balew

July 24, 1997
Web posted at: 5:16 a.m. EDT (0916 GMT)

From Correspondent Brian Cabell

OAK GROVE, Kentucky (CNN) -- Oak Grove, Kentucky, is a town seemingly without pretense; a military community serving the needs of its mostly transient population.

But it's also a town of secrets and surprises.

Oak Grove Councilwoman Patty Balew revealed one last week when she announced she was a former prostitute at a local brothel. Her admission is just one more piece to a puzzling local murder mystery.

The brothel was run by Tammy Papler who claims police tolerated her business because she paid them off regularly.

"I did what they told me to do," said the former madam. "If they needed new police lights, I bought new police lights. If they needed birthday money, I gave them birthday money. If they needed money for a trailer to be moved ... basically anything they told me they needed, I gave them the money for it."

Further, according to Councilwoman Balew, they gave the cops sexual favors at a discount, or at no cost.

"If they were police officers, that's what we had to do whether we wanted to or not, which we didn't like," said Balew.

Policeman suspected

When the brothel refused to make anymore payoffs back in 1994, two of the brothel's prostitutes ended up shot in the head, their throats slashed.

police

"It was devastating to us," Papler recalled. "They both had babies. One was breastfeeding her baby. It was just a few weeks old."

Crime scene evidence was botched by the police, according to the sheriff's department, and no arrests have ever been made.

But Sheriff Thomas Scillian concedes Ed Carter, an Oak Grove policeman at the time, remains a prime suspect in the slayings. Carter was at the scene 30 minutes before the double murder.

"There's other information that we have that leads us to believe that Carter would be a good suspect," said Sheriff Scillian.

But despite the Sheriff's belief that Carter may be involved, the brutal murders remain unsolved. Frustration over the slowly unfolding murder saga is running high in the small Kentucky town.

"There's a cloud hanging over us right now and there's no rain," said Oak Grove Mayor Bobby Mace. "Let's get it to either rain or let the wind blow the cloud out and let's get moving forward to the future."

Balew and Papler are ready for an end to the deadly charade. The two found some support in their corner last week when demonstrators demanded the truth about the double murder be brought out into the light of day.

Supporters of the police, who deny any involvement in the gruesome slayings, ask: How can anyone trust a former madam and one of her prostitutes?

The state police may have the last word. They are investigating the corruption charges while the county sheriff continues his investigation into murders.

So while the allegations against the police have been made public, the truth is still a mystery.

  
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