|Birth: ||Nov. 3, 1947|
|Death: ||Mar. 24, 1955|
Barbara, 7, a little angel from the East side of Detroit was last seen on March 24, 1955, walking between her home and Assumption Grotto School where she attended in the Gratiot-Seven Mile area of Detroit. It is six blocks between the school and her home. A week later, Barbara's body was found in a dump in rural Oakland County, 25 miles from her home, she was raped and stabbed. Her murder was never solved.
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A Special Thanks to Rhonda Kirkpatrick-Harrison for sponsoring this memorial.
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Thursday, February 25, 1999
Independent file photo
William Henry Redmond lived in Grand Island from 1963 until his death in January 1992.
Dead G.I. man suspect in 1955 murder
Story last updated at 6:59 a.m. on Thursday, February 25, 1999
By Carol Bryant
A dead Grand Island man has been identified through an FBI computer database as a suspect in the 1955 rape and murder of a 7-year-old Detroit girl, a Michigan investigator says.
Barbara Gaca disappeared on March 24, 1955, after leaving home to walk to school six blocks away. Her body was found on March 31, 1955, at a dump about 25 miles northwest of her home near the Grand Trunk Western Railroad in West Bloomfield Township, Mich.
The late William Henry Redmond of Grand Island surfaced as a suspect after 13 pages of information about the slaying were submitted to the FBI's Violent Criminal Apprehension System (VICAP), said Lt. Tim Sheridan of the West Bloomfield Township Police Department.
Barbara's parents live in White Lake Township, Mich.
"They're still interested in finding out who's responsible for their daughter's death," Sheridan said Tuesday.
Redmond, 69, died on Jan. 2, 1992, at a Grand Island hospital. He was awaiting trial in the strangulation death of 8-year-old Jane Marie Althoff. Her body was found at a carnival southeast of Philadelphia on April 26, 1951. Redmond operated a ferris wheel at the carnival, and his fingerprints were found in a truck cab where her body was found.
The resurgence in the Michigan case is due in part to VICAP, a nationwide data center designed to collect and analyze information on violent crimes -- specifically murder. A case entered into the database is compared to all other entries concerning unique aspects of the crime and similar patterns of operation.
Sheridan submitted information to VICAP about Barbara's death in March 1996.
"Nine days later, I got a phone call from someone from the FBI," Sheridan said. Two suspects were identified.
"My second suspect I was able to eliminate, because he was in jail at the time of Barbara Gaca's death," Sheridan said.
"I had looked into Redmond," the detective said. However, Sheridan ran into some snags. Detroit police had all the evidence from the crime, and some couldn't be located. Also, investigators have a "rather large file" on Barbara's death.
Her father contacted Sheridan in November 1998.
"Someone had left flowers at Barbara Gaca's gravesite a couple weeks before Thanksgiving," Sheridan said. "I grabbed the case file again."
Her father was suspicious, because no family members put the flowers there.
Sheridan also has discovered a lab report from the murder investigation describing evidence found on Barbara's clothing. Crime evidence is stored in a warehouse, which Sheridan is locating.
He contacted The Independent on Tuesday because he's trying to determine if Redmond was in Michigan at the time of Barbara's death. Sheridan has a partial history of where Redmond worked for railroads through 1951 and is gathering more information about his job history. Anyone with information about Redmond may call Sheridan at (248) 682-9200.
The detective is tracing what years Redmond worked for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in Lima, Ohio. The railroad serviced the Detroit area. Barbara's body was found wrapped in an Army blanket manufactured in Philadelphia in 1951.
The Pennsylvania case was reopened in 1985 by Malcolm Murphy, a State Police trooper. He located Redmond in Grand Island through computer motor vehicle registrations and arrested him in January 1988.
Redmond was extradited to Pennsylvania, where he was supposed to go on trial for Marie Althoff's murder.
Murphy obtained confessions from Redmond. However, Redmond's attorney contended that Murphy forced Redmond to confess during 14 hours of intense interrogation.
The beginning of Redmond's trial was delayed because Murphy refused to tell Redmond's attorney the name of an informant. A judge ruled that Murphy was in contempt of court and banned him from testifying.
Redmond was allowed to return to Grand Island after posting $1 bail. He had acute emphysema and a heart problem.
In another case, Redmond was a suspect in the rape and murder of Joanne Ena Lynn, 11, on Sept. 19, 1949, in Lima, N.Y. A Hall County judge in August 1991 allowed investigators to take blood and hair samples from Redmond in Grand Island. New York State Police did DNA testing on the samples.
Robert Montgomery, a New York State Police investigator, wrote in an August 1991 affidavit filed in Hall County Court that his agency's crime laboratory had established a DNA profile of the killer from samples from the victim's clothing.
"William Henry Redmond Š has been a suspect in this investigation since April 28, 1951," Montgomery wrote. Redmond worked before and after Joanne Lynn's death as a ferris wheel operator and truck driver for various traveling carnivals. At the time of her death, the Hemlock Fair and Carnival was in progress six miles south of where her body was found.
Montgomery wrote that Redmond's criminal record included:
* Oct. 3, 1935, conviction in Lancaster, Ohio, for attack on two pre-teen girls.
* Oct. 3, 1938, conviction in Conneaut, Ohio, for attempted rape and assault on pre-teen girl.
* Nov. 16, 1949, investigation in Florida of apparent sexual assault.
* June 1949 release from U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., after serving a sentence for a violation of the Dwyer Act.
* May 14, 1950, conviction in Middletown, N.Y., for disorderly conduct.
* Awaiting trial in the April 1951 death of Marie Althoff.
Montgomery wrote that Redmond told an inmate while awaiting trial for the Pennsylvania murder, "They may have me on this one but not the other three."
Cleveland police interviewed Redmond in January 1988 while he was in Pennsylvania custody about the disappearance of a pre-teen girl there on Aug. 25, 1951, Montgomery wrote.
"At that time, he indicated to police that he would provide information relevant to the Cleveland, Ohio, case after speaking to his Pennsylvania attorney. However, the interview was not continued."
Mount Olivet Cemetery
GPS (lat/lon): 42.4269, -83.01726
Created by: TOM♦
Record added: Mar 23, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 10659701
I lived in Detroit and lived close to Assumption Grotto Church where Barbara went to school. My best friend went to school with Barbara and we were 1 year younger than her. So very sad, she was laid out in her Holy Communion dress. There was no justice fo...(Read more)|
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