Peggy Edwards was still new to the reporting world when the Windmill Park murders shocked Marion County in 1974.
“I was in Washington, D.C., when they happened,” she said.
West Virginian City Editor Kate Bloom covered the breaking news that shocked Marion County that early August morning, Edward added.
“I came back the next day and took it over from there.”
Although she was never on scene, she’ll always remember details from those days following the murders.
“I remember it was really weird for Fairmont. We had never seen anything like that. People thought it was a gangland killing. They speculated it had something to do with a drug deal.
“That’s what people were thinking. Whether it did or not, I have no idea.”
She’d never covered any news like this before.
As the paper’s crime reporter, Edwards gathered arrest reports for the daily log, covered hearings and even a murder trial.
But sthis was not an average crime in Fairmont, she said.
“It was something new for Fairmont. Every year after that, we’d ask the chief of police at least once a year if there was anything new about the murders.
“But there was never anything new. It was always an ongoing investigation. I suppose you could call it a cold case.”
A Fairmont man arrested in another homicide was a prime suspect, she said.
Those later murders were similar to Windmill Park.
“They were in the same area, in a spot where no one could hear the gunshots. They speculated he could have been the (Windmill Park) murderer, but he was never charged with that,” she said.
“And it could have been one of those things, like, ‘Why don’t we blame him for this?’ But it didn’t stick.”
Edwards retired from reporting in the early 1990s. But this is one story she’ll always remember.
“It’s wonderful,” she said of the arrest. “I hope this is a valid arrest because someone should be held responsible. I’m curious as to what the circumstances were, why he did it.
“It is probably a valid assumption it was drug-related,” she said.
“We all wondered about it. People wondered how this person got away with shooting these three people one by one by one in a row without someone running away or tripping him.”
Even after almost 40 years, police never gave up on the case, she said.
“They never closed the books on it, but after a while, people stopped asking about it because nothing was happening.
Ron Musgrave, who resides in Indianapolis now, was a photographer with the West Virginian in 1974 when the triple murder at Windmill Park took place.
He was naturally shocked to be called about his memories of that case Thursday afternoon.
“I really don’t remember much about it,” Musgrave said. “I heard the typical comments about who people thought had done it.
“But it was just gossip.
“I believe we first heard about it on the police scanner,” he said of the day the shootings took place. “I remember going out to Windmill Park. There were a lot of police cars there. I remember this one policeman took his foot and drew a mark on the ground, and he said I couldn’t go past that mark.
“But as far as the picture was concerned, I couldn’t see anything. We didn’t have any long lenses or anything like that then,” he said. “So I came back to the office. I knew Bill Wilcox had a 400mm lens. It was the longest lens I had seen at that time. At least it was the longest lens I ever had used.”
Wilcox was a former advertising manager for the Fairmont newspapers. He probably used his long lens to photograph nature scenes that he would use with his outdoors column that he would write a few years later.
“We were fortunate that Bill had the lens in his car and didn’t have to go home for it,” he said. “So I went back out and set it up. The same officer asked me if he could use it to see what I was seeing. I told him no. I was mad. So I took the pictures and left. I wasn’t out there very long,” Musgrave said.
Editor John Veasey also contributed to this article.