A Christmas Murder at Pulaski County Park
Updated: Jan 1
Hometown Murders & Mysteries | December 2022
Christmas 2022 has shaped up to be one of the coldest in Kentucky during the last half century, with temperatures falling below zero and windchills registering at or near -30 degrees at the coldest. We usually hit a couple of bumps where the temps drop below zero, but that windchill made outdoor Christmas activities a complete "no go" this year. Family visits were postponed, and those who still went through neighborhoods caroling were forced to stay home. Few people talk about carolers anymore, but our neighbors did it up until a few years ago. It was heart-warming to witness!
Out of curiosity, we searched for the temperature for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, 1962. The results from the Old Farmer’s Almanac said that the low temps were between 18-26 degrees, with the highs topping out around 30 degrees on Christmas Eve and 39 degrees on Christmas day. We don't know about you, but even with the beautiful white Christmas of 2022, we would trade the sub-zero and the snow for the average temperatures sixty years ago.
Temperatures like we experienced this year always come with tragic consequences, and our community lost at least one life to the bitter cold. Many of us had frozen water pipes, periods without electricity, and general hardships during the coldest times. Still, thankfully most of us had shelter from the cold and food on the table. For those in our community who aren't so fortunate, there was an outpouring of love from some of our churches and community members who came out, fed, and opened their doors to those without during the holiday. In this, we can see that humanity and the Christmas spirit are still alive, even if it is hard to see sometimes.
By now, you have probably already guessed that we looked up the weather conditions in 1962 because that is the year our story took place. As we looked back in the archives, other news reports told us that the county treasury was empty and all roadwork would be halted until the new budget year (July 1963), a new city sewer system was being planned, and polio vaccinations were scheduled for Pulaski Countians. From the news bytes we saw, many issues important to us have remained in the headlines over the decades.
Unfortunately, as Pulaski County wasn’t without its Christmas tragedies in 2022, the headlines sixty years ago were also full of misfortune.
The Commonwealth's 1962 Christmas week front-page headline read like this,
"A murder, an unusual death, several traffic mishaps, and a shooting have marred the holiday season in Pulaski County"
The shooting mentioned in the headline happened on Christmas Eve at Compton's Used Cars, located on Ogden Street in the Somerset city limits. The owner, Mr. Compton, saw several men standing around on his car lot property and told them to scatter—at gunpoint. When the men didn't scatter, he opened fire and chased them away. Luckily, he only hit one of the men, James Tilley, and did not inflict a mortal wound. Tilley was seen at the Somerset Hospital and released. Mr. Compton was arrested and later released on bond, charged with malicious shooting and wounding.
The “unusual death” occurred when Mr. Dillard Noe, a Woodstock resident, and State Highway employee, drove home on Christmas Eve. Mr. Noe was driving a vehicle with a "very bad exhaust." Unfortunately, Mr. Noe was overcome by carbon monoxide fumes from the faulty exhaust and fell unconscious in front of Wiley Goff's house in Woodstock between 11 pm and midnight. Mr. Noe was dead by the time anyone found him. A tragedy indeed!
Our story dives into the “murder” part of that headline, which was the brutal slaying of Murrell Trimble on Christmas night at Pulaski County Park.
As we usually do, let's start by introducing and connecting the places and parties involved in this case.
Mr. & Mrs. Murrell Trimble
Murrell Lee Trimble was born and raised in the Nancy community on Todd Road. Todd Road is on a ridge that overlooks Pulaski Park and Fishing Creek—on the Pulaski Park side of the lake. Before the river was impounded, the old portion of Todd Road connected to the road that led down to the waterway and crossed over to what is now the Fishing Creek Recreation area. That road is now inaccessible and part of USACoE property.
Note: A large portion of the land and old homeplaces on Todd Road is owned by the offspring of the Todd and Prather families of Pulaski County, including long-time PVA TW Todd, the incoming Pulaski County Judge Executive Marshall Todd, and Murrell Lee Trimble's mother Bonnie (Prather) Trimble; everyone going back to John and Mammie Todd (our family included). We found the location relevant later in the story. We also wanted to point this out to our neighbors and family who follow our posts as a point of special interest. However, this story has reaches throughout the county!
In 1962 Murrell Trimble was 30 years old, married to Melba "Faye" (Hargis) Trimble. Faye Trimble was raised in the Ula community between Mount Victory and Shopville around Hwy 1003. Murrell's mother had passed a decade earlier, but his father, George Laco Trimble, and at least one of his brothers, Luid D., still lived at the Nancy residence on Todd Road in 1962. Murrell had a big family with six brothers and sisters. After marrying, Murrell and Faye made their home on North Hwy 1247, not anywhere close to where either grew up.
Faye started working as a seamstress at Palm Beach of Somerset in the late 1940s (Find a Grave), and Trimble was a well-known television repairman, both making good money for the time. Murrell was known to carry large sums of cash; several reports say he usually carried around $15k. Let's put that into perspective—it is like having approximately $151k today. Probably not wise to let people know you were carrying that much money now or in the 1960s.
Before Murrell Trimble became a television repairman, he worked mixing mortar for construction companies that built houses. This is likely where he crossed paths with Mr. Roy Gill.
Mr. & Mrs. Roy Gill
Barbara Jean (Gaylon) Gill
Barbara Gill was born around 1938 and lived with her parents, brother, and two sisters in
Sevierville, Tennessee. Barbara was the oldest of the siblings, with an eleven-year gap between her and the youngest sister.
From all accounts, Barbara Jean was academically gifted, active in her class, and generally did very well in school.
Barbara Jean's father worked as a carpenter for the Post Sign Company, an advertising company in Sevier, Tennessee; her mother was a housewife. We can tell from later character witnesses that Barbara Jean's parents were very well thought of in the Sevierville community. Many people came out to speak on behalf of her and her father, Kenneth.
Barbara Jean went straight from high school into college. Barbara Jean graduated from Carson Newman College and accepted a job teaching home economics for the 1960-61 school year at Ferguson High School, where she was also the lunchroom supervisor. While teaching at Ferguson, she met Roy Gill. Before the 1961-2 school year started, Barbara accepted a job teaching in the Sevier County School System but left soon after the school year began to accompany her husband, Roy Gill, to Dayton, Ohio. It was only a short time afterward that she landed a job teaching in the Piqua County Ohio School System, where she easily commuted from their home in Dayton, Ohio.
Roy Gill was born in Pulaski County on July 12, 1934, in the far northern reaches of Pulaski County near the Rockcastle line in Walnut Grove. His family lived between Walnut Grove and Bee Lick in Broadhead during the 1940s and 50. Roy's parents were George and Rhoda (Burton) Gill. The Gill household was rather large, with two daughters, four sons, and Rhoda's father, Cy Burton, living in the house.
By the time the family lived in the Broadhead residence, Roy was out of his parent's house and on his own. From 1953-1955 Roy enlisted in the military; after that, he made his way to Anderson, Indiana, where he lived on W 3rd Street and worked as a roofer; we can find him in that city's directory until at least 1959. Roy's mother, Rhoda, was widowed and living in Anderson with Roy, but sometime around 1960 or 1961, Roy moved to a residence in Dayton, Ohio, with his new wife, Barbara, where he set up a workshop for his roofing business.
In December 1962, Mr. and Mrs. Gill were married for 18 months and had no children.
We were only able to locate a little information about Barbara Russell. Still, from the testimony given later as this story progresses, we know that Barbara Russell and Barbara Jean Gill worked as waitresses in the same restaurant in 1961 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
During the summer of 1961, Miss Russell became fast friends with Barbara Jean Gill and ended up dating one of Roy Gill's brothers. Roy had at least three brothers, but only two were close to him in age—James and Kenneth Gill. Roy's other brother, (David) Rosco, was seven years older than Roy. So we assumed he was the less likely candidate, but when we searched the records for Rosco, we found that he was also a roofer in Indiana in 1962 until his car struck a utility pole, which resulted in injuries that caused his death 25 days later on May 10. What caught our eye was that Rosco Gill was married to a woman named Barbara—that makes three Barbaras in this story so far!
Barbara Gill is listed as (David) Rosco Gill's wife on his death certificate. After further reading, we do not believe Barbara Russell dated or married Rosco since Rosco's son was around eight years old in 1962. The timing is wrong, so we believe Miss Barbara Russell was dating either James or Kenneth Gill. However, it is interesting to note that Rosco was also in the roofing business in the Indiana and Ohio area, possibly with his brother, Roy, in 1962 before he had the car accident and died. It could be that Roy's roofing business was hurting after his brother passed, which may have caused Roy to become desperate for money—of course, all of this part of the story is pure speculation.
To compound things a little more, in December of 1962, Miss Russell had an infant child around seven months old, but the father was never revealed in the media. Another speculation is the child may have belonged to Roy's brother, which is why she continued to accompany the Gills after the summer job in Gatlinburg ended; however, we could find no evidence to support that. Miss Russell's origins and life before she met the Gills in 1961, and much of her story after, is still a mystery to us. Still, we do know that she either lived in Maryville, Tennessee, or possibly had family there, but was a resident of Troy, Ohio, during December 1962 when this story kicked into high gear.
Now that the main people involved in this tragedy are identified, let's move on to the events that occurred exactly 60 years ago in our little town.
December 19-24, 1962
Roy Gill drove his wife to her parent's home in Sevierville, Tennessee, and dropped her off. Barbara Jean's father had made it clear that Roy Gill was not welcome in the Gaylon house because of how Roy treated his daughter. Barbara Jean's parents somehow knew there had been incidents of domestic violence between Roy and Barbara Jean. Most of us have seen domestic violence situations and realize it is hard for someone to cut all ties and get out of the situation. In the 1960s, there was more tolerance for that type of violence, which likely made it even harder to get out. We aren't saying that is the case here, but we are mindful that there is a myriad of reasons, right or wrong, that Barbara Jean may have used to rationalize staying with Roy even if he was abusive.
After leaving his wife in Tennessee to spend time with her parents, Roy said he headed to Somerset to take care of some business dealings with Murrell Trimble. We don't know precisely when Trimble and Gill began business relations, but Mrs. Trimble said that she had met Roy and Barbara Jean Gill a few times over the past year and a half, so that would put the time stamp around 1960 or so. It is probably safe to say the Gills were not strangers to Murrell and Faye Trimble, especially Murrell.
Between December 19th and Christmas day 1962, it is believed that Roy Gill stole a tar pot from the Brown Brothers General Contractors in Somerset and took it to his Dayton, Ohio workshop. The owners filed a theft report in Somerset and listed Roy Gill as the prime suspect.
Also, during the few days Roy was away from his wife, Mrs. Faye Trimble said that Roy had called and been by the Trimble house on North Highway 1247 several times to discuss business. However, she didn't elaborate on what type of business they discussed.
Christmas Night 1962
Only a few businesses were open on Christmas day in 2022 in Somerset, but almost everything was shut down in observance of the holiday in the 1960s. As is tradition with most folks in Somerset, we imagine Mr. and Mrs. Trimble enjoyed the Christmas Day festivities visiting their families in the east and west reaches of the county before settling in at their own house on North Highway 1247 for a lazy night.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Roy Gill was headed south to Tennessee to pick up his wife at her grandmother's house in Sevierville. After picking her up around 6:15 pm, the couple headed to Maryville, Tennessee, to pick up Miss Russell. Maryville is about 30 miles southwest of Sevierville, around a 30-minute drive. After the trio was together in Roy Gill's car, they quickly decided to head to Somerset—about 150 miles from Maryville, Tennessee.
According to Barbara Jean Gill, the three drove on Hwy 25 and turned off onto Highway 90 below Corbin, which took them by Cumberland Falls to Hwy 27, then into southern Pulaski County and the town of Burnside. Once they got into Burnside, Roy told the two Barbaras that he needed to talk to Murrell Trimble about some business and pulled his car off to the curb by a public telephone. Roy told Barbara Russell to call Trimble's phone number and speak to Murrell. Barbara Russell did as she was told and called the Trimble's house.
The phone rang at the Trimble house around 10:20 pm on Christmas night. Mrs. Trimble said her husband answered the phone, and she could overhear just enough to know it was a woman on the phone. After Murrell hung up, he told his wife, "Roy had gone down there and got Barbara, and they are downtown and want me to come down there." From that, Mrs. Trimble knew Murrell was talking about Roy Gill and knew he had gone to Tennessee to pick up his wife, Barbara. As mentioned, Mrs. Trimble knew the Gills from previous dealings; however, this night, Murrell didn't mention Barbara Russell (Barbara number two) when telling his wife about the phone conversation. Or at least Mrs. Trimble didn't add that part to any statements she provided that were made public later.
After explaining part of the phone conversation to Mrs. Trimble, Murrell took off to meet the trio at a dead-end road Miss Russell described while on the phone. Remember, Murrell told Mrs. Trimble that the Gills were downtown and wanted to meet with him; he mentioned nothing about the actual meeting place, so Mrs. Trimble had yet to learn where exactly Murrell was going, according to statements. The dead-end road was what is now Pulaski County Park Road. One description of the road in The Commonwealth newspaper said that area was known as "Wildcat Alley," but we haven't found anyone who can remember it being called that. There was an old "Wildcat Alley," but not close to this meeting place.
The Pulaski County Park had been established before 1962, but more developments were planned for the park and other USACoE properties surrounding Lake Cumberland. Pulaski County Park in 1962 wasn't as developed as it is today, or even as it was eight years ago—before the overdone RV sites and cabins were created. The park was basically a lake access point where folks could fish, push a boat in from the bank, picnic, or pitch a tent. Until recently, the park remained a scenic and serene spot with very little foot traffic, even in the peak of summer. On Christmas night, 1962, though, we can bet the park was completely deserted.
As noted earlier, our family owns farmland on the ridge above Pulaski County Park and what is now the lake bottom and park property. Many of the Todd & Prather family members currently live or own property on the ridge overlooking the area. It just so happens that in 1962, as Murrell Trimble was driving down the park road to meet the Gills and Miss Russell, our parents, grandparents, and cousins were tucked in and snug in their houses overlooking the area where things were getting ready to go sideways for Murrell. Even worse, Murrell's father, Laco Trimble, was counted among those on the ridge, safe and sound, but within hearing distance if someone screamed out or if shots were fired in the bottom. The problem was no one knew where Trimble was or what was getting ready to happen.
The Search for Murrell Trimble
When Murrell Trimble didn't come home Christmas night, Mrs. Trimble called the police, and the search started. Murrell had never stayed away from home all night before. Police, neighbors, and family scattered out to search for Murrell. [Note: Christmas fell on a Tuesday in 1962]
Wednesday morning Sheriff Phelps got to work following up on tips he had received, one being that a late model blue Oldsmobile car had been seen parked on the hill overlooking the Fishing Creek part of the lake. Another tip said that someone heard shots fired in the vicinity of the old road. No one had seen "hide nor hair" of Murrell Trimble, and his family was worried that something terrible had happened. They were right.
Around 5:30 the day after Christmas, Dale Tarter, helping with the search, drove down the Pulaski County Park Road to check out the statement about the car parked at the lake. When Mr. Tarter got to the end of the road, he found Trimble's car parked overlooking the Fishing Creek part of the lake, just like the person reporting had said. When Tarter neared the car, he saw Murrell slumped down in the seat. His body was in bad shape, and it was evident he was dead. Tarter backed out and got to the nearest phone to call Sheriff Gilmore Phelps to come out to the scene.
Sheriff Phelps said he, State Trooper Hall, and Coroner Farris found Trimble slumped over the car's steering wheel. Trimble had been shot three times with a .32 caliber pistol and had been beaten on the head with a hard instrument. They found a broken Billy club in the car but couldn't tell if that was what he was beaten with. They also found pieces of Trimble's ear in the back seat. Whoever murdered Trimble took the time to lay a bra, panties, and pantyhose on his body. Phelps noted that the garments had no blood on them, and nothing indicated that they had been on his body when he was beaten and shot. The scene had been staged to look like the murder took place in self-defense against a rape attempt.
The sheriff said the murder appeared to be a robbery since Trimble's wallet was missing. Remember, Trimble was known to carry very large sums of money on him all the time.
BOLO for Roy (and the two Barbaras)
After talking to Mrs. Trimble again (after Murrell was found dead), sheriff Phelps sent out a "police alarm" to officials in Tennessee and Ohio. The Gills were suspect number one. After making a few calls, the sheriff found a home address for the Gills in Dayton, Ohio. On December 27, Phelps called the Montgomery County, Ohio, Sheriff's Department and described Gill and the car he was driving. Montgomery County Sheriff's office formed a "stake-out squad" and started the hunt for Roy Gill.
As the officers were leaving the Gill residence in Dayton, one of them saw a car passing in the opposite direction that matched the description given by Sheriff Phelps. A short pursuit ensued, and they were able to stop the car a mile down the road near a café.
The officers took Mr. and Mrs. Gill, Miss Barbara Russell, and a small child into custody.
For some reason, the officers took Gill and the women to Gill's residence. While there, Mrs. Gill used the restroom—unattended and went to the utility room—unattended. These days, it is not a common (or good) practice to allow someone in custody to go anywhere without direct supervision. At any rate, after the Gills and Miss Russell were taken to the station to be interrogated, the detectives back at the house conducted a complete search. During the investigation, they found where Mrs. Gill had placed thirty $100 bills and five $20 bills in a "Puffs" tissue box in the bathroom, and they found a .32 caliber revolver inside a black women's glove in the bottom of the washing machine in the utility room.
A search of Roy Gill's car turned up Trimble's bloody wallet, credit cards belonging to Trimble, and a bloody hammer in the trunk.
While being interrogated at the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department, the Gills did not provide statements, but Miss Russell did admit to being in Somerset with the Gills on Christmas night. The three were held in Ohio until arrangements for extradition were made.
By press time on January 2, 1963, the trio agreed to sign extradition papers and were quickly extradited back to Somerset, where the interrogation would continue.
A Double Cross (Xs 2)
At some point during the transfer back to Kentucky, Miss Russell told the officers that she was only aware of $400 being in Trimble's wallet. As soon as she arrived in Somerset, Miss Russell gave her account and requested not to be placed in the same cell as Mrs. Gill. Miss Russell obviously felt she had been double-crossed since the Gills were not truthful about how much money they actually got from Murrell Trimble's wallet. Luckily for officials, she was ready to sing like a little bird and try to save herself.
Mrs. Gill was lodged in the Pulaski County Jail, while Miss Russell was lodged in the Somerset City Jail.
Miss Russell began her account by making sure the officials knew that Mrs. Gill had the pistol in her pocketbook when they were apprehended and asked to go to the bathroom so she could get rid of it.
In her formal statement to the Commonwealth's Attorney Russell Jones, County Attorney Joe Montgomery, and Sheriff Gilmore Phelps, Miss Russell said Roy Gill had arranged for Trimble to meet the three of them at the end of a dead-end road on the bank of Lake Cumberland late Christmas night. Miss Russell admitted to calling Mr. Trimble to ask him to meet her and the Gills—at Roy Gill's insistence. Russell said when Mr. Trimble arrived, she went with Roy Gill to Trimble's car and talked to him before returning to Roy Gill's car. Shortly after, Roy Gill returned to the car she was in, got his pistol, then went up to Trimble's car and shot him. Miss Russell went on to say that after the shots, Roy Gill returned to his car for a second time and took something from under the seat before returning to Trimble's car. She told the officials that she did not know what Roy Gill took from underneath the seat.
Mr. and Mrs. Gill remained silent and did not give a statement.
A few days after being brought back to Pulaski County, the three went before Judge Garner for an initial hearing. The two women were released on a $25,000 appearance bond, but Roy Gill was ordered to be held without bond on the murder count. As to the grand larceny charge for stealing the tar pot, Judge Garner set Gill's bond at $1000. Incidentally, the tar pot was found in Gill's workshop in Dayton, Ohio, when officials executed a warrant on the couple's property.
Both women and Roy Gill continued to deny they had anything to do with the murder, robbery, or the tar pot theft.
Roy Gill’s Trial
On Monday, February 25, 1963, two months after Murrell Trimble's murder, the trial for Roy Gill began. Even though a flu epidemic raged in Pulaski County, many in the community risked sickness and filed in the Circuit Court room to witness the case against Gill—the crowd grew larger each day it progressed. By the time testimony finally got underway, the courtroom was filled to capacity with standing room only, which caused the officials difficulty when they tried to move around the room.
It took from Monday to Wednesday at 4 pm to seat a jury. On the last day of the trial, Thursday, February 28, the defense attorney, Damon Vaughn, decided not to call Roy Gill or other defense witnesses to the stand.
The first witness to be called by the prosecution was Mrs. Melba (Faye) Trimble. She told the jury that Roy Gill had been to their house a couple of times in the month before the night Roy and the two Barbaras lured Murrell out on Christmas night. She said Gill came to their home the Saturday after Thanksgiving. He was accompanied by Mrs. Gill, and they were on their way north from visiting relatives in Tennessee. She said Gill again visited the house on December 21 and stayed approximately 20 minutes. Gill and Trimble left the house together and went to Somerset that night.
The second witness to take the stand was Pulaski County coroner Norman Farris. He said that when he arrived on the scene around 6:30 pm December 26, he found Trimble lying in the front seat of the car; the lower portion of the body and legs were under the steering wheel, and his head was slumped over near the door. Farris estimated Trimble had been dead 18-20 hours when he examined him at the scene. In the preliminary investigation, Ferris testified two holes, later determined to be bullet holes, were found in the left temple of Trimble's head. In addition, he testified that parts of the left ear were found in the car's back seat, where it had either been blown off by one of the shots or beaten off with the hammer. A third shot was found in Trimble's left chest area. The coroner attributed Trimble's death to the bullet wounds in the head, but when questioned, he said the beating, or the other bullet wound could have caused the death.
Though he didn't testify, and no one was called on his behalf, the well-dressed Gill seemed to remain "very calm" through the four days of his trial. He was reported to have talked with members of his family and even broke into a smile a few times when talking to his attorney.
Finally, on the last day, the special all-male jury from Lincoln County deliberated for about 90 minutes before they found Roy Gill guilty of murdering Murrell Trimble and fixed his punishment at life imprisonment.
Gill still faced two other charges, one for armed robbery of Trimble and the other for the grand larceny in the theft of the tar pot from Brown Brothers. The Commonwealth Attorney didn't expect Gill to be on trial for those charges for several more months. We aren't sure what happened to those cases.
Two Barbaras on Trial
The trial for Barbara Gill and Barbara Russell began two days after Roy Gill's conviction. In an odd turn of events, Roy Gill broke his silence and took the stand to testify against the two women against the objections of his attorney, Damon Vaughn. Judge RC Tarter told Gill that he did not, under the law, have to testify, but Roy was damned and determined to be heard. Neither Barbara testified against Roy Gill during his trial, but his motives were clear not to be the only one convicted in Trimble's murder.
Roy admitted knowing that Trimble carried a lot of cash, "I had seen him with $15,000 to $18,000." He told the jury that he and the two Barbaras made plans on Thanksgiving Day to rob Trimble on Christmas.
"We were to give Trimble' knock out drops' and take his money. Then we planned to put him in his truck and push it over a cliff so it would look like a traffic accident," Gill said. "The money was supposed to have been split three ways," Gill told the jury.
Gill said that after he dropped his wife at her parent's house on December 19th, he went back to Somerset and met with Trimble several times. During those meetings, he found out that Trimble opened a savings account, deposed all his money in that account in Lexington, and was not carrying the cash around as he used to.
Gill testified that he picked up his wife, Miss Russell, and her baby on Christmas day and shortly after started drinking heavily. According to him, his wife drove the car while he continued to drink to the point of passing out in the back seat before they arrived in Somerset. Gill said the next memory he had was when he awoke somewhere in Louisville and had no knowledge of what had happened on the banks of Lake Cumberland. Gill also said that his wife begged him to plead insanity and promised to get him out of the murder charge if he did.
In response to Gill's testimony, the defense attorneys for the women introduced a letter from Gill to his wife; the letter read, "Just a few lines to say I hope you are happy." Several profane words unfit for print were written in the letter. In the closing paragraph, Gill said, "Now it is your turn." And was signed, "Goodbye, Roy."
The defense also read statements provided by a witness, Roy Delk, who had been jailed with Gill in Somerset before his trial began. Delk testified that Roy had said he would kill his wife when he got out of jail and that Gill had said Trimble was peddling dope. Delk also stated that Gill said he didn't care what happened to himself, but he wanted to see his wife in prison, too, because "I don't want her running around with other men while I'm in the pen." Gill denied the statements made by Delk.
Other witnesses took the stand, which included the coroner, sheriff, and other officials who were part of the investigation. A significant number of character witnesses also spoke on behalf of both women. Mrs. Gill took the stand and testified that Gill had assaulted her several times during their marriage. She said she had filed for divorce on three different occasions and that Gill threatened to kill her if she left him. "He choked me and threatened to kill me last September," Mrs. Gill said. She also told the court she was afraid of Gill.
Both women took the stand and testified that they had been in the car with Gill, they stopped in Burnside, and Barbara Russell called Trimble and asked him to meet them at the park, but both women said they did not know Roy Gill was going to kill Trimble.
Mrs. Gill said Gill went to the Trimble car, and minutes later, she heard shots. She said Gill returned to his car to get something from under the seat after the shots were heard and returned to the Trimble car. When Roy Gill returned to his vehicle, Mrs. Gill said she attempted to question Gill about what had happened. She said he cut her off and said, "Don't ask me anything. You don't know nothing about what's happened. Just pretend that you haven't been in Somerset, Kentucky," she quoted him as saying. She said they left the scene and drove to Indianapolis to Gill's mother's home. While in Indianapolis, she said Gill gave her a roll of money and a pistol and told her to keep them.
Miss Russel's story was nearly identical, but she explained to the jury that when they arrived at the lake area and Trimble came to the car, she went to sit in the car with him. "Trimble tried to get friendly with me," she told the jury. She said after he made two or three "passes" at her, she returned to the Gill car. Miss Russell said she heard two distinct shots after Gill went to the Trimble car. She said when Gill returned to the Trimble car, the second time with "whatever" he had taken from under the front seat of his car, she heard "scuffing or thumping sounds." Miss Russell told the jury she and Mrs. Gill discussed the shots before Gill returned to the vehicle and that Mrs. Gill said the men probably saw something on the lake bank.
When the trio left Lake Cumberland, they went to Indianapolis, to Gill's mother's house. Miss Russell said Gill told his mother that he had an accident and that he had paid the property damages but that someone would probably be looking for him. She said he told his mother to tell anyone seeking information that he had arrived in Indianapolis around midnight.
After the testimony was finished and the special Wayne County jury deliberated about two hours and thirty-five minutes before returning a guilty verdict against the women. Soon after, Roy Gill, Barbara Jean Gill, and Miss Barbara Russell were taken to the state reformatories. Gill went to LaGrange Reformatory while the women were taken to the State Reformatory for Women at Pee Wee Valley.
Appeal Made – New Trial Set
As was expected for the women, Barbara Gill and Barbara Russell filed an appeal, and the State Court of Appeals granted the women a new trial on procedural errors. While waiting on a new trial, both were released on a $25,000 bond.
In June 1964, a second trial was held to retry both women -- only on an armed robbery charge. A change of venue was requested but denied. Once again, the courtroom was packed, and the second trial played out much like the first trial. Gill testified against the women again to no avail. A special Russell County jury found both women not guilty and set them free.
Roy Gill was destined to serve his time.
Roy After Prison
Eventually, Roy finished serving his time and was released. However, Roy died a little over a month before his 50th birthday in 1984 by what appears as suicide. The Indiana State Board of Health Coroner's Death Certificate says that Roy had been threatening suicide, drank vodka with Diazepam, and laid down beside the railroad tracks near his residence at South Harding Avenue in Indianapolis. While the certificate doesn't show any trauma to his body, the cause is noted as "Mixed Drug Reaction (Alcohol and Diazepam). The coroner's certificate of death confirms Roy's divorced state, and it does not look like he ever remarried or had children that we could locate. His mother, Rhoda, buried him and then passed two years later in 1986.
Barbara Jean After Release
It appears that Barbara Jean Galyon moved back to Sevier County, Tennessee, and never remarried. According to Find a Grave, she died unexpectedly at her home on December 31, 2021.
Here is part of the online obituary we were able to find:
"She was immediately relieved of the almost constant pain she experienced when she was welcomed into glory by Her Savior Jesus Christ. She was a life-long member of Zion Hill Baptist Church. She was the eldest daughter of R. Kenneth and Bonnie Reed Galyon who preceded her in death, whom she dutifully cared for until their deaths. She was most satisfied when she was helping others. Additionally, she was preceded in death by her brother Jerry K. Galyon and sister Brenda J. Loveday who fondly referred to her as "Sis." Also preceding her in death were many aunts and uncles she dearly loved.
Although she was employed by Normac Industries for over 25 years, she was best known in the community as a seamstress, an election worker, avid gardener, blackberry picker, and farmer's market vendor. She was a cherished daughter, a beloved sis, an adored aunt, an appreciated neighbor, and a good friend to many."
We were not able to find anything on Miss Barbara Russell.
The Trimble family remains a solid part of the Pulaski County community. Murrell
Trimble's father's house on Todd Road still stands but has been vacant for some time.
As always, we remain sensitive to the remaining family members of all parties in this case and retell these events with the utmost respect for those left behind. We welcome community feedback and insight. If you have a connection, a correction, or more to add, please leave us a comment or email us at email@example.com. Unfortunately, in most cases, we have to rely on what the newspapers and other written historical resources tell us, but we all know that is only part of the story.
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