New DNA evidence has surfaced in the 1986 Belle Center murders on the 26th anniversary of the cold case. The latest development shows Logan County investigators most likely charged the right man in the double-murder case. However, authorities may not be able to use the evidence against that man in another criminal prosecution.
According to the Logan County Sheriff’s Office, “DNA testing confirmed the presence of the previously charged individual at the residence and on the physical evidence used in the crimes.”
Terry Lowe, 72, who now lives in Lima, was initially prosecuted in the case back in 1990. Prosecutors dismissed the capital murder case in 1994 and Lowe has been a free man since.
Belle Center Village Marshal Murray Griffin was called to 211 West Main Street in Belle Center for an unknown disturbance on July 5th of 1986. Minutes later, deputies from the Logan County Sheriff’s Office arrived to find Griffin and resident Phyllis Mullet dead inside the home. It took investigators several days to process the crime scene.
Several years after the murders, the case was brought before a grand jury. Lowe was indicted in the case. The case went before Logan County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark O’Connor in 1991. An appeal was filed by Logan County Prosecutor Gerald Heaton after several days of testimony. The appeal was filed regarding issues with evidence.
Judge O’Connor’s decisions were upheld by the Third District Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court and the case was then dismissed by Heaton.
The Logan County Sheriff’s Office has recently worked with Logan County Coroner Dr. Michael Failor for more than a year seeking assistance in reviewing the 1986 case. They made contact with the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office “Cold Case Unit” to test evidence from the double murder. Judge O’Connor released the evidence to Montgomery County in October of 2010.
The results from the DNA testing were sent to the Logan County Sheriff’s Office in March of this year. Those results were sent to the Logan County Prosecutor’s Office for review and to determine any further criminal proceedings. Because a defendant cannot be tried twice for the same crime after it has been dismissed, it is unlikely the case will go to trial again.
Listen to Logan County Prosecutor Bill Goslee discuss the new evidence, double jeopardy, and what happens next.