This 1967 Cold Case Still Haunts An Oregon Town And Its Residents

On the afternoon of October 21, 1967, two boys sat on a dock fishing the Willamette River in Corvallis, Oregon, hoping to catch something big enough to keep. Instead, they discovered a body floating in the water near the Riverview Marina, according to the Statesman Journal and A&E. When police fished the body out, they quickly surmised who it was — Richard "Dick" Kitchel, a 17-year-old high school student who had gone missing 10 days earlier.

An autopsy revealed someone had strangled Kitchel to death, and the medical examiner also found bruising on the victim's face and scrapes on his knuckles, indicating he'd been in a fight before his murder, according to the Corvallis Gazette-Times. Figuring out the circumstances of how the teenager died turned out to be much easier than finding the person or people responsible for his death. Fifty-five years later, the case remains unsolved.

Dick Kitchel Goes Missing  

Nine days earlier, on the night of October 11, 1967, and into the early hours of the next morning, Dick Kitchel went to a party at the home of Paul and Juddi Everts — a couple who often threw parties for the local teenagers — where he got into at least two fights (via A&E). At the time, Kitchel faced serious charges: drunken driving, hit-and-run, and resisting arrest. That Labor Day weekend, he took a date to a party, where they got drunk, and when driving home, he crashed while a police cruiser was following him.

When Kitchel's family reported him missing, police initially thought perhaps he'd fled rather than face his court case, per the Corvallis Gazette-Times. Born on July 27, 1950, in Olympia, Washington, Kitchel was then living with his father and step-family and was a senior at Corvallis High School, where he was well-liked (per The Olympian and "A Murder in My Hometown"). Small and wiry, he was 5-foot-2 and weighed 125 pounds, but nonetheless had a reputation as a scrapper who tended to drink too much. Kitchel was last seen alive near the state employment office at about 1:30 a.m. after being driven from the party by a friend, Doug Hamblin, who dropped him off there, per the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

The Suspects in Dick Kitchel's Murder 

The local police had their work cut out for them in the Richard Kitchel murder case. He and the other boys at the high school had continually shifting alliances, and fist fights were fairly common, per A&E. They pored over the numerous interviews they conducted and gave polygraph tests to several people, including Doug Hamblin, who had driven the victim away from the party the night of his death. His lie detector test results were inconclusive when questioned on whether he had choked the victim, and the two were seen fighting at the party.

The police also looked at Kitchel's father, Ralph Kitchel, as a possible suspect, according to The Corvallis Advocate. In the past, the police had come to the family's home to break up fights between the two, per "A Murder in My Hometown." In the end, the police figured Hamblin for the murder but didn't have enough evidence to charge him. The murder shocked the small city with a population of about 31,000 at the time (PDX Scholar) and still haunts Corvallis today as one of its five unsolved murders, per The Corvallis Advocate.