The Mysterious Deaths Of Candy Belt And Gloria Ross

In the early morning hours of September 20, 1994, 18-year-old Gloria Ross and 22-year-old Candy Belt were found dead in the back room of the New Life Massage Parlor in Oak Grove, Kentucky. As reported by CG Crimes Site, authorities determined both women were shot and stabbed. They also determined the scene had been compromised, and that several police officers, including one who was at the scene, were possible suspects.

Unsolved Mysteries reports that although it is illegal in the state of Kentucky, the women at New Life Massage Parlor were supposedly sex workers. In addition to providing their services to soldiers from the nearby Fort Campbell, owner Tammy Papler admitted as many as eight local police officers were regular clients.

According to Papler, one officer in particular, Ed Carter, used his position in law enforcement to intimidate and threaten Papler and her employees. In an interview with Unsolved Mysteries, Papler said Carter "wanted services, and it was like, 'Well, I know what's going on. I'm a police officer. Who are they gonna believe, you or me?'"

Papler said Carter became increasingly bold and demanding until she made the decision to ban him from the establishment. During an employee meeting, Papler told the women Carter was prohibited from visiting the New Life Massage Parlor, and they should not engage with him in any way.

When Belt and Ross were found dead, Carter was one of the first officers to arrive at the scene.

A police officer was a prime suspect

Tammy Papler said the local police, who were first to arrive on scene, harassed and threatened her and her employees. When the county sheriff arrived to assist, Papler informed him about the officers' behavior and said she and her employees believed Officer Carter, who was present at the scene, was responsible for the women's deaths.

As reported by CG Crimes Site, when Carter was questioned about his possible involvement, he reportedly admitted visiting the New Life Massage Parlor on the morning the women were killed. However, he insisted he returned home by 3 a.m., which was reportedly an hour before the murders occurred. He also purportedly denied owning a gun of the caliber used to commit the crimes.

When authorities questioned Carter's wife to corroborate his story, she allegedly said her husband was not home by 3 a.m., and actually returned home closer to 4 a.m. She also reportedly refuted his denial about owning a small-caliber handgun. CG Crimes Site reports she confirmed her husband did own a gun like the one used in the murders, and had kept it hidden under the mattress of their bed. However, it reportedly vanished before the women were killed.

Although Carter's wife was unable to confirm his alibi, he was not arrested and eventually moved out of town. As reported by Unsolved Mysteries, Papler was upset that her employees' murders went unsolved and, in her opinion, police corruption was to blame.

Three men were arrested and later acquitted

On July 15, 1997, Tammy Papler attended an Oak Grove City Council meeting to discuss her concerns. As reported by Unsolved Mysteries, former Oak Grove City Councilwoman Patty Belew also spoke at the meeting, as she was a former employee of the New Life Massage Parlor and confirmed several police officers were regular clients. She also expressed her opinion that these same officers were involved in Belt and Ross' murders.

"Her allegations of police corruption and things of that nature were true. I'd known about them comin' [sic] into the parlor. And the reason I know about that is because I used to work there," Belew said during the meeting. "I always felt that the police officers were involved."

Although the suspicions surrounding the police department, and Carter in particular, plagued the Oak Grove for more than a decade, nobody was arrested in the case until 2012. CNN reports Leslie Duncan, who was the former lead officer in the murders of Candy Belt and Gloria Ross, was arrested in 2012 on charges of tampering with evidence. One year later, former officer Edward Carter, a man named Frank Black, and Duncan were charged with the murders of Belt and Ross.

In September 2016, a jury acquitted Carter and Black on all charges. WKMS reports Carter's attorney, Michael Bufkin, said the state simply failed to prove their case.

The murders remain unsolved

As reported by WKMS, Bufkin said the entire "case was based on suspicion, not evidence." Days after Carter and Black were acquitted, Leslie Duncan was also acquitted on charges related to the murders of Candy Belt and Gloria Ross.

In September 2017, Edward Carter filed a wrongful incarceration lawsuit against Jason Newby, who is a former Kentucky State trooper and current Hopkinsville police officer. As reported by The Eagle Post, the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court, alleges Newby's investigation into the murders of Belt and Ross was "profoundly shoddy" and ultimately led to "fabricated conclusions" that implicated Carter. As a result, the lawsuit alleges Carter was falsely accused and therefore wrongfully incarcerated for the three years leading up to the conclusion of his trial.

The lawsuit also alleges Newby presented evidence before a grand jury, which he did not have firsthand knowledge of. The Eagle Post reports Newby testified that there was a connection between Carter and Black, which was never proved, and that Carter's wife told him information about her former husband during an interview — which allegedly never occurred.

Although Carter, Black, and Duncan were all acquitted in the murders of Belt and Ross, authorities have not revealed any other persons of interest or suspects in the murders and the case remains unsolved.