Serial Killer in the Midwest: The Victims of Timothy Krajcir
Mary & Brenda Parsh
In August of 1977, Brenda Parsh (left) flew from Wisconsin to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where her parents lived. Her father was hospitalized and recovering from surgery. Brenda was born June 28th, 1950, to Floyd and Mary Parsh. She was beautiful and vivacious, becoming a cheerleader in high school. She later became a beauty queen in a pageant in Cape Girardeau. She had ambitions to work in the fashion industry, moving to Wisconsin to be a fashion buyer. As her career was just taking off, this beautiful woman was ripped from the world in a savage attack that also claimed her mother.
Mary Evelyn Alexander Parsh (right) was born April 13th, 1919, in Alton, Illinois. She married Floyd Parsh, and together they had two daughters. Brenda was the youngest daughter of the couple. Mary was a loving mother and wife. On Friday, August 12th, 1977, Mary Parsh left her husband at the hospital to pick up Brenda from the airport. Floyd Parsh said after his wife and daughter failed to show up at the hospital, he called the house. He said Brenda answered but seemed upset and distracted. She said, “I love you Daddy” and then hung up the phone. That was the last time Floyd talked to his daughter.
After three days of failing to show up at the hospital, a neighbor went to check on Mary and Brenda Parsh. The neighbor found Brenda and Mary lying face down on the master bed with their hands bound behind their backs. They were both nude and deceased from gunshot wounds. Their bodies had been lying in the house, which did not have air conditioning, for three days in the summer heat. The bodies were already partially decomposed.
Authorities believed that the killer must have known the victims. Floyd was hospitalized, so he was quickly eliminated as a suspect. A small caliber slug was recovered from the head of Mary Parsh (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1977). Although several items seemed to have been rummaged through, nothing of value was missing. The keys to the house were still in the front door, suggesting the women had been ambushed upon returning home.
Detectives suspected that Brenda’s ex-boyfriend, whom she just broke up with before moving to Wisconsin, may have been responsible. However, no evidence linked him to the crime. There were also rumors about Brenda’s brother-in-law making inappropriate advances towards Brenda. Both men were interrogated, but no evidence linked either man to the crime and both had alibis. The case went cold.
On November 17th, 1977, twenty-one-year-old Sheila Ellen Cole (left) was found dead in a roadside bathroom stall of Illinois Highway 3 near McClure, Illinois. She had been shot twice in the head. Her autopsy showed no signs of sexual assault, and she did not appear to have been robbed. In fact, her wallet was nearby with cash and checks still inside. There was no suspects or evidence to lead to a suspect in the case. Her case also went cold.
Sheila was born on September 15th, 1956, in the Crestwood, Missouri area to Harold and Naomi Cole. She was a 1974 graduate of Lindbergh High School and was attending Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. She was studying zoology and chemistry, planning to enter graduate school to study marine biology the following year (Mannies, J., 1977). The night before her body was found, Sheila had dinner with her boyfriend and then told her roommates she was going to Wal-Mart and Schnucks. No one knew why she was in Illinois.
On May 12th, 1978, David Witte called police and said his wife had been murdered. When police arrived at the couples’ Marion, Illinois home, they found fifty-one-year-old Virginia Witte deceased, lying nude on her bed. “Initial observation of the scene indicated that Mrs. Witte had a large wound in her abdomen, apparently caused by a knife slash, and she also had a knife protruding from her chest” Williamson County Detective Keith Odom said (Callison, 1978). An autopsy determined she died of a combination of choking and stabbing.
Virginia Witte (above) was born August 6th, 1926. She married David Witte and the couple were long-time residents of St. Joseph, Missouri. Virginia worked as a dormitory housing clerk at Missouri Western State College before her and her husband moved to Illinois. She had been grocery shopping the morning of her murder and groceries were still lying on the counter when her husband, a Ford Motor Company executive, found her deceased.
David Witte was initially a suspect, as the husband is always a suspect, but was quickly ruled out. Neighbors claimed to see a man in the area that was identified as a possible suspect. He was described as a man in his 30s to 40s, stocky, muscular, with neat clothes and hair. Detectives collected over 100 pieces of evidence, but eventually the murder case went cold with no arrests.
On March 23rd, 1979, the nude deceased body of twenty-nine-year-old Joyce Faye Tharp (below) was found behind a church in Paducah, Kentucky. Her body was found by a florist delivering flowers to the church after she had been reported missing the day before. Her family reported her missing after finding a window broken at her apartment and Joyce was nowhere to be found.
An autopsy determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head and strangulation. She had bruises to her head and neck. She was found nude, suggesting sexual assault. Joyce’s case also went cold.
Myrtle V. Rupp (above) was found deceased in her in her Muhlenberg Township, Pennsylvania home on April 17th, 1979. The fifty-one-year-old woman had been strangled and her arms and wrists were bound with cord. Mrs. Rupp was discovered by a neighbor after no one had seen her in a few days. An autopsy determined that Myrtle died from strangulation and had also been sexually assaulted. There were no suspects in this case either and it would eventually grow cold.
Myrtle V. Aungst Rupp was born April 4th, 1928. She married Charles Rupp, but he proceeded her in death in 1974. Myrtle was a registered nurse, working as the head nurse and supervisor in the obstetrics and gynecology department at Community General Hospital in Reading, Pennsylvania (Republican and Herald, 1979).
Seventy-two-year-old Ida White was found with multiple stab wounds on September 7th, 1981, in Mount Vernon, Illinois. She was transported to the hospital in serious condition. Her neighbor had heard her screams and came to Ida’s home. The elderly woman was in her bathtub with multiple stab wounds to her abdomen. The neighbor saw the perpetrator leave through the bathroom window. Ida later died at the hospital from her injuries.
The neighbor described the perpetrator as a black male with a rough face and facial hair. Police were quick to identify a suspect. A man named Grover Thompson was found sleeping across the street at the local post office. He was taken in for questioning and put in a line up. The lineup was mishandled as Grover was the only suspect shown to the witness. The witness reluctantly identified him although his clothing did not match the description. There were other issues with the case. Grover had a disabled leg, yet authorities believed he had jumped out of the window and down five feet.
Grover Thompson (left) was a resident of Miami, Florida. He had been traveling from his sister’s home in Wisconsin to Mississippi at the time. He stopped in Mount Vernon to rest, falling asleep in the post office lobby. Despite the lack of evidence, Grover Thompson was tried and convicted of the murder of Ida White. She was sentenced to forty years in prison. Grover died in prison in 1996.
Marjorie “Margie” Call was found deceased in her Cape Girardeau, Missouri, home on January 27th, 1982. She was fifty-seven years old. She has been shot with a .38 caliber weapon after being sexually assaulted. It appeared as if the perpetrator had entered her home through a window. The autopsy showed that her cause of death was strangulation, despite the gunshot wound (United Press International, 1982).
Margie Louise Call (below) was born July 8th, 1924, in Cape Girardeau. She was a bookkeeper for F.W. Woolworth Co. for thirty years. She married Ernest Call in 1947 and he proceeded her in death in 1978. She was survived by two sons, both living in Southern Illinois.
There was a suspect in Margie’s case, but this person was ruled out before the year was over. Blood evidence was found at the scene, but with no suspect to compare it to, the case went cold.
On April 8th, 1982, the body of twenty-three-year-old Deborah Renee Sheppard was found in her Carbondale, Illinois, apartment. Deborah was one of several young women murdered in the Carbondale area around that time, igniting fear of a serial killer in the area. However, the Carbondale police said, “There is no connection with any other cases” (Woolf, 1982).
Deborah (left) was found with no obvious signs of trauma and police originally believed no foul play was involved. In fact, they suggested she may have died of a drug overdose. Her first autopsy, performed in southern Illinois, documented pulmonary edema as the cause of death (Woolf, 1982). However, her family was skeptical and believed that a second autopsy was necessary. It was performed in Chicago before her burial. The second autopsy determined strangulation to be the cause of death.
When police originally processed the scene, they noted fluid released from Deborah’s mouth that was collected on a piece of clothing nearby. The detectives collected that piece of clothing in hopes that the biological evidence may one day be useful in this case.
An article in the Kenosha News in 1982 details the Sheppard family’s fight to have their daughter’s cased ruled a homicide. “Police were lax in investigating the young woman’s death because they didn’t want publicity about another unsolved slaying near the school” (Kenosha News, 1982). According to the article, Cook County Medical Examiner found evidence of strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head. Eventually a coroner’s inquest hearing resulted in the death being ruled a homicide.
Despite the case being ruled a homicide, detectives were no closer to solving the murder. The murders of several other young women were linked to serial killer John Paul Phillips, but no evidence linked Phillips to Deborah’s murder. The case grew cold.
On June 21st, 1982, Mildred Wallace (left) was found deceased in her Cape Girardeau home. Mildred had been shot with a .32 caliber weapon, much the same as Margie Call. She had also been sexually assaulted. Her cause of death was ruled to be a gunshot wound to the head. Mrs. Wallace had been blindfolded and her hands tied behind her back. Police found a window in her bathroom that appeared to be the entrance point for the intruder. She was found by her sister when the sixty-five-year-old failed to show up for work.
Police quickly connected Mildred Wallace’s murder to that of Margie Call. However, they were no closer to identifying the perpetrator. “For the benefit of this entire area, the offender or offenders must be apprehended and all the legal means to accomplish this task must be utilized” Judge A.J. Seier said (Associated Press, 1982). Although no killer was identified, the crimes just suddenly stopped.
In 2007, Carbondale police decided to take another look at the murder of Deborah Sheppard. They ran forensic testing on the shirt obtained from the scene on which the fluids from her mouth were collected. The testing revealed a male DNA profile, suggesting an oral sexual assault had occurred. More shocking, the DNA profile was matched to a man who had been in prison since 1983, Timothy Krajcir.
Timothy was born Timothy Wayne McBride on November 28th, 1944, in West Mahanoy Township, Pennsylvania. His father abandoned him and his mother, so Timothy’s mother Fern raised him by herself. She dated frequently and eventually met Bernie Krajcir. Fern married Bernie and he legally adopted Timothy, changing his name to Timothy Krajcir.
At age five, Timothy broke into a neighbor’s house. While inside, he destroyed property within the home. He then urinated on the floor. It was a shocking crime demonstrating extreme emotional disturbances in a five-year-old-boy (First Kill, 2014). At age six he was arrested for petty theft of a bicycle (Campbell, Lynn, & McCarthy). As young man, Timothy became obsessed sexually with his mother. He also began peeping on neighbors, demonstrating an obsession with voyeurism and exhibitionism.
Timothy enlisted in the United States Navy and was in basic training when he met a woman named Barbara. When Barbara became pregnant, Timothy and Barbara married. Timothy was eighteen years old when his daughter Charlotte was born in 1963. However, Charlotte would never meet her father as he was in jail for a heinous crime already.
In May of 1963, Timothy raped and stabbed a woman using scissors in Waukegan, Illinois. The woman survived, and Timothy raped another victim. He was arrested and charged with the rapes. While awaiting trial, Barbara left him and gave birth to their daughter. Timothy was convicted and sentenced to 25-50 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Timothy obtained an associate degree while in prison and began working as an inmate emergency medical technician at Cairo PADCO Community Hospital in 1974. He also worked for Union County Hospital in Anna, IL as an inmate EMT in 1975. He was released from prison in 1976 due to good behavior and was described as “a model inmate” (First Kill, 2014). Upon his release, he began classes at Southern Illinois University and moved to Carbondale, Illinois. He began working as an ambulance driver with the Jackson County Ambulance.
After his release, Timothy began committing numerous burglaries, home invasions, and sexual assaults. During one of these home invasions in 1977, Timothy stole a .38 caliber pistol. He was never suspected in any of those burglaries and continued to work as a first responder. However, in 1979 he was arrested for molesting a thirteen-year-old girl, his landlord’s daughter (Campbell, Lynn, & McCarthy). He was sentenced to two years for the crime in August of 1979. He was released from prison in 1981.
After his second release in 1981, Timothy (left) earned a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice from Southern Illinois University where he minored in psychology. He later stated that his studies made him a better criminal. He would continue to commit various rapes, although he was never a suspect. He was arrested in 1983 in Allentown, Pennsylvania when someone reported a suspicious man in the parking lot. He was found with a gun and arrested on a firearms charge. He attempted to escape the Pennsylvania prison that same year, breaking his leg during the attempt. He was convicted of assault and sentenced to five years.
Upon his release from the Pennsylvania prison in 1988, Krajcir was transferred to Big Muddy Correctional Center in Southern Illinois to serve sentences for parole violations. He was civilly committed as a “sexually dangerous person” and confined under those terms in Illinois from 1989-2007 when DNA evidence linked him to the murder of Deborah Sheppard.
When police confronted Timothy Krajcir with the DNA evidence against him, he confessed to murdering Deborah Sheppard in 1982. He said he broke in, attempted to force her to perform oral sex, and then strangled her to death. He was charged with first-degree murder and was awaiting trial. News of the cold case being solved after twenty-five years reached detectives in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. They wanted to speak with Timothy Krajcir.
Krajcir initially denied any involvement in any other murders, including those occurring in Cape Girardeau. However, authorities agreed to not seek the death penalty in Missouri if Krajcir told the truth about his crimes. With that promise, he confessed to nine murders, multiple sexual assaults, robberies, and assaults. He said that he didn’t know why he chose the victims he did but that he was more likely to kill the women who reminded him of his mother, explaining why he chose elderly women to murder in many cases.
In December 2007, Timothy Krajcir was convicted of the murder of Deborah Shepard and was sentenced to forty years in prison. He was sent to a maximum-security prison and classified as a serial killer. He was sentenced to forty more years in 2008 for the murder of Virginia Witte. He was then given thirteen life sentences in Missouri for the murders of Mary Parsh, Brenda Parsh, Sheila Cole, Margie Call, and Mildred Wallace. Sheila Cole had been murdered in Missouri before being dumped in McClure, Illinois, approximately six miles over the border. He confessed to the murder of Joyce Tharp in Kentucky and was also charged for the murder of Myrtle Rupp in Pennsylvania. He received another life sentence in Pennsylvania. After Krajcir’s confession to the murder of Ida White, Grover Thompson received a posthumous exoneration by Governor Bruce Rauner (Illinois Innocence Project, 2019).
Timothy Krajcir (above) is currently being held at the Pontiac Correctional Center in Illinois. Due to his 80-year Illinois sentence and his indefinite commitment as a sexually dangerous person, Timothy Krajcir does not have a release date. Upon his release in Illinois, he will be transferred to Missouri to serve thirteen life sentences. Timothy Krajcir will die behind bars, but that doesn’t seem to be enough of a punishment for the monstrous crimes he committed and the ten lives he took.
St. Louis Post Dispatch (1977) Killer of mother and daughter believed to have known family; St. Louis Post Dispatch; 16 Aug 1977; Retrieved at: 16 Aug 1977, Page 4 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch at Newspapers.com
FindAGrave (Accessed 2021) Mary Evelyn Alexander Parsh; Retrieved at: Mary Evelyn Alexander Parsh (1919-1977) - Find A Grave Memorial
Brenda Kay Parsh; Retrieved at: Brenda Kay Parsh (1950-1977) - Find A Grave Memorial
Sheila Ellen Cole; Retrieved at: Sheila Ellen Cole (1956-1977) - Find A Grave Memorial
Virginia L. Witte; Retrieved at: Virginia L. Witte (1926-1978) - Find A Grave Memorial
Myrtle V. Aungst Rupp; Retrieved at: Myrtle V. Aungst Rupp (1928-1979) - Find A Grave Memorial
Margie Bertling Call; Margie Bertling Call (1924-1982) - Find A Grave Memorial
Deborah Renee Sheppard; Retrieved at: Deborah Renee Sheppard (1958-1982) - Find A Grave Memorial
Mannies, J. (1977) Woman shot to death in highway restroom; St. Louis Post Dispatch 18 Nov 1977; Retrieved at: 18 Nov 1977, Page 3 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch at Newspapers.com
Callison, C. (1978) Former St. Joe resident found murdered in home; St. Joseph Gazette 16 May 1978; Retrieved at: 16 May 1978, 1 - St. Joseph Gazette at Newspapers.com
Hubble, D. (1978) Slain woman’s husband struggles to make new life; Southern Illinoisan 09 Jul 1978; Retrieved at: 09 Jul 1978, Page 3 - Southern Illinoisan at Newspapers.com
Matlock, B. (1979) Slain: Missing woman found dead by church; The Paducah Sun 25 Mar 1979; Retrieved at: 25 Mar 1979, 1 - The Paducah Sun at Newspapers.com
Pottsville Republican (1979) Myrtle V. Rupp; Retrieved at: 20 Apr 1979, 2 - Pottsville Republican at Newspapers.com
Pottsville Republican (1979) Murder investigation continues; Retrieved at: 20 Apr 1979, 3 - Pottsville Republican at Newspapers.com
Republican and Herald (1979) Reading nurse is strangled; Retrieved at: 18 Apr 1979, 15 - Republican and Herald at Newspapers.com
Associated Press (1981) Woman, 72, stabbed; man arrested nearby; Southern Illinoisan 09 Sep 1981; Retrieved at: 09 Sep 1981, Page 9 - Southern Illinoisan at Newspapers.com
United Press International (1982) Woman was strangled, coroner says; Retrieved at: 31 Jan 1982, 21 - Springfield Leader and Press at Newspapers.com
Woolf, T. (1982) SIU-C student’s death still a mystery; Southern Illinoisan; Retrieved at: 19 Apr 1982, Page 3 - Southern Illinoisan at Newspapers.com
Kenosha News (1982) Family determined to prove daughter was murdered; Kenosha News; Retrieved at: 17 May 1982, 13 - Kenosha News at Newspapers.com
Associated Press (1982) Circumstances same in murders of two Cape Girardeau women; The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune; Retrieved at: 30 Jun 1982, Page 17 - The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune at Newspapers.com
Campbell, J., Lynn, S., & McCarthy, R. (Unknown) Timothy Wayne Krajcir ‘Boogeyman in the blue bandana’; Department of Psychology Radford University; Retrieved at: Microsoft Word - Krajcir, Timothy.doc (radford.edu)
Policemag (2007) Serial killer admits to killing Kentucky woman; Retrieved at: Serial Killer Admits to Killing Kentucky Woman - Special Units - POLICE Magazine
Illinois Innocence Project (2019) Grover Thompson; University of Illinois Springfield; Retrieved at: Grover Thompson – Illinois Innocence Project - University of Illinois Springfield - UIS
A&E (2021) Who were Timothy Krajcir’s victims?; Retrieved at: Who Were the Victims of Timothy Krajcir? - A&E True Crime (aetv.com)
Murderpedia (2021) Timothy Wayne Krajcir; Retrieved at: Timothy Krajcir | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers
KFVS12 (2018) Serial killer: the two lives of Timothy Krajcir; Retrieved at: Serial Killer: The Two Lives of Timothy Krajcir (kfvs12.com)
First Kill (2014) Timothy Krajcir; Season 1 Episode 1
IDOC (2021) Timothy W. Krajcir; Retrieved at: Individuals in Custody (illinois.gov)