This Halloween instead of the normal celebrations of "trick or treating" and candy consumption or the prefabricated "haunted houses" with a $10.00 cover charge, I thought that it would be more fitting to offer up a REAL horror story of murder and mutilation from right here in our quaint little B-town.
Ellen Sears Marks, 30, died of multiple stab wounds to the chest and abdomen sometime between Sept. 15 and 20, 1986.
The identification and autopsy of the body was done by John Pless and Dean Harvey of the forensic pathology division of the IU Medical Center in Indianapoplis.
Marks was small with brown hair and brown eyes. Marks was bright and articulate, a physician's daughter who had won prizes for achievement in history and science and had come to Indiana University on a graduate fellowship.
Marks had graduated in 1973 from Columbus School for girls, a colleg prep school in Columbus, Ohio. In her senior year, she won two of the school's top trophies, one in science and one in history. Her family lived in nearby Delaware, Ohio, moving in 1974 to Grosse Pointe, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, where her parents still live.
There is no photograph of Ellen Marks in her high school yearbook. For her senior page, she chose instead a line drawing of a woman's face drawn without eyes. With the picture is a quatation from Henry David Thoreau's Walden: "The air is full of invisible bolts. Every path but your own is the path of fate. Keep on your own track, then."
Marks then studied English at the Wesleyan University, a privateschool in Middletown, Conn. Marks graduated with honors in English from the University of Connecticut and came to Bloomington to attend graduate school at I.U. IU records show that she was enrolled as a graduate stundent in English from 1978 to 1980 but never completed the degree.
Eugene Kintgen, an IU English professor who was director of graduate studies at that time, said he remembered Marks as an intellegent person who seemed to have trouble getting organized in graduate school. She was well prepared for her specialty in old English, he recalled, but was inconsistant in her school work.
She left school in spring 1980 without finishing her courses. Investigators found a letter from her counselor showing she was forced to drop out of school a year later because of incomplete classes.
"She just kind of disappeared," said Kintgen. He said Marks spoke to him about returning to graduate school, but never returned. "She'd seem full of resolve about coming back and then something would happen," he said.
About that time, Marks cut off links with her parents. Clark, who last had contact with Marks four years ago, said her sister was suspicious of her family and was fearful of their attempts to get her mpsychological help. Since then, Clark said from her home near Detroit, her family had known of Marks's lifestyle or how to find her.
Clark said psychologist to had treated her sister had determined she was able to live on her own, making it difficult for the family to make her submit to more extensive psychological treatment. Bloomington police records show Marks was treated at a local psychiatric clinic between 1980 and 1984.
In 1983 Marks was without a home and was directed to a run-down house on Bloomington's North-West side about 10 blocks away on Oolitic Drive. The people who lived there were called hippies. They had turned their back on money-oriented society. They opened their home to anyone who needed shelter.
People who knew Marks said that she could be bitter and angry, and that she was obsessively private, often refusing to reveal her last name. Some people who knew her said that her desire for privacy prevented her from applying for welfare aid.
She lived at the Ooolitic street house the better part of a year. to Larime Wilson, who also lived in the house, Marks was someone who "fell through the cracks" of society's support systems.
Yet Wilson said Marks seemed to believe in the way she was living. "She could clearly see parts of our culture that were obsessed with getting more, working more. And I don't think she wanted any part of that."
Eventually Marks left the house and took refuge in the plywood shack on the Summit Street lot owned by community activist Mike Andrews, who had built the structure and had lived in it for a time.
The shack at the end of Summit Street was hidden in a grave of trees, sheilded from the street by 15-foot high weeds and saplings. Police hualed the structure away to be used as evidence.
Neighbors said Miss Mark's had lived a reclusive, self sufficient, indigent lifestyle in the 10 by 10 crate for almost 2 years, foresaking what investigators described as an affluent family background and her graduate work at IU. A next door neighbor described her as a free-spirited woman who chatted with neighborhood children, played flutes she carved from wood and grew her own potatoes in a garden on the lot.
"She told us from time to time that she just wanted to get out and see how the poor people lived and survived, and that just what she did," said Robert J. Parks, noting that neighbors often gave her water and coffee, checked on her well-being and invited her into their homes to keep warmBllomington Township Trustee James Dawson said that although she had no regular job, Miss Marks visited his office only once.
"She didn't chronically abuse the system," he said. "She was a woman who got along on her wits." She often babysat for neighborhood children and worked on constuction crews from time to time.
"When she worked, she worked like hell," said a friend of Marks who added that she sit for hours and listen to his Rock and Roll band practice.
"She was very individualistic. She was very much into living her own life and she wasn't going to take orders from anyone," he addded.
Jalon DeLeury, a friend of Marks, said the woman ate many of her meals at the community kitchen at 14 and Blair Ave. not far from where her body was found. Marks had also been a freaquent visitor to the Dunn Meadow Shanty-town.
In a way, Marks chose her lifestyle as a rejection of materialism and a demonstration of self-reliance. But according to her older sister, Martha Clark, Marks also had a history of emotional problems.
"She was one of the small percentage of people for whom society just doesn't work for," Clark said. "Had she been a bit sicker or a bit better she would have been in better shape. She was capable of doing so much more...She wrote well, she had a lot going for her."
Marks's lifestyle was a mystery to many of her working-class neighbors, some of whom had fought all of their lives against the poverty which she seemed to have chosen. People kept an eye on the short, slight woman with dark curly hair, who dressed in whatever clothes she could find. Some were willing to give her water and a place to shower, according to Jeryy Hodges, a neighbor. Hodges said he worried about her because her legs often had severe bites from insects which thrived amid the weeds on the lot.
Marks would often sit in neighbors' houses for hours without saying anything, drinking coffee or just keeping warm. She was a familiar sight in the area, because she walked up and down the street several times a day and often sat for hours on a curb playing wooden flutes she carved.
"My little girl always liked to talk to her," said Rhonda Parks, who lived on Summit Street with her husband and 6 year old daughter, Jennifer. "She always brought apples from the apple tree and if Jen wasn't there she would sit them on the step."
Clark also said her sister loved children and used to call just to speak to Clark's baby son.
While living on Summit Street, Markls baby-sat and house-sat for friends. She hung out at the Dunn Meadow Shantytown, a collection of shelters built last spring on the IU campus to protests the Univesity's investments in South Africa. She ate free meals and worked at the Community Kitchen in the Monroe County United Ministries building several blocks from her home.
"She was very intelligent, and very articulate," said Debi Jones, coordinator of the kitchen. "It wasn't like she was crazy at all. She was just different. It seemed like she really wanted to live her life by herself".
Mark's body was found by friends who became worried when they had not seen her for a few days. When they went to the lot looking for her, they smelled a foul odor and called the police, who uncovered the half buried remains.
Haggert said that people in his neighborhood feel badly that they weren't able to do more to protect Marks. But he said neighbors are glad that they offered her what little help she would accept.
"There's got to be a place in the world for people that just don't conform to the whole rigamarole," Haggerty said. "She didn't hurt anybody...she made a damn good neighbor."
Robert Evan Lee 31, was a convenient store clerk (where VP is now) for about 5 months and lived about 1 block away at 506 N. Adams St. (the Adams Street Rooming House) for about 5 years. He had been convicted of attempted rape in 1974 in Tonawanda, N. Y. He seemed quite and kept to himself. Lee often volunteered at Soup Kitchen a few blocks away.
Monroe County Prosecuter Ron Waicukauski said that scientific test revealed a trail of blood drops from Miss Marks shack to the back door of the boarding house in which Lee lived. Also revealed signs of blood in his room.
The most damaging peice of evidence was the neatly printed script that police say Lee had written 3 years earlier in Dec. 1983, when a roommate found the writing in a spiral note book.The script did not refer to Marks specifically.
In part the 315-word document full of misspellings and bad punctuation read;
"Girl or woman must be abducted or killed in a relatively isolated zone. If killed, corpse is to be immediately moved to a place of shelter that is not raveled normally (woods, abandoned building). If abducted, girl or woman is to be tied, gagged and leg hoobled and moved to a safe area.
"Dead victims will be unclothed...then torso is to be cut open and the entrails removed...head cut off, arms and legs cut off."
Technicians from the Crane Naval Depot used heat sensing device to attempt to find missing body parts. Robert Evan Lee was arrested at approximately 7PM on Wed. Sept. 24 1986.
Ellen Marks's body parts were never found.
After 20 years, there are pieces still missing in puzzling and horrifying Marks murder case.
Where is her head?
Police never found it or her hands.
Lee says that the Police framed him as their only suspect, ignoring other possible leads. He says that he is innocent and is a victim of the police departments poor investigation.
"What did you do with her head?" Fellow inmates ask Lee. He tells them, "Why don't you ask the person that killed her? I didn't kill her."
Robert E. Lee is scheduled to be released in 2016.
ROBERT EVAN LEE
Date of Birth 04/14/1955
Facility/Location Branchville Correctional Facility
Date of Sentence 10/30/1987
Earliest Possible Release Date *
*Offenders scheduled for release on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday are released on Monday. Offenders scheduled for release on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday are released on Thursday. Offenders whose release date falls on a Holiday are released on the first working day prior to the Holiday.
Clark said she will always wonder if she could have done anything to help her sister, but took some comfort in knowing Marks lived among people who cared for her.
"I really am grateful that at random in all the cities in the United States, she was in such a hospitable community. I'm not sure that she could have done any better anywhere else, and she could have done a lot worse."
Bernard Marks, her father, is now chairman of pharmacology at the Wayne State University Medical School in Detroit. He declined to comment on his daughters life or death.