Has a small Missouri town lost it's innocence following the murders of three people in Cole Camp?
In the history of the small Benton County town there had never been a single murder in Cole Camp, now law enforcers are conducting a triple homicide investigation in the town of just over 1,000 residents.
Cole Camp was a kind of Mayberry town where people used to sleep with their doors unlocked, left keys dangling from car ignitions and where children weren't afraid to answer a strangers request for directions. It's a place where God and Country are revered, and a man's word is all that's needed for a shopkeeper.
If you would have asked anyone in Cole Camp, Sedalia or any of the surrounding communities if they felt safe living there before June 9th, 2009, the overwhelming answer would have been yes.
However the stormy day of June 9, 2009, changed beliefs for young and old alike and it's a date that people will forever have etched in their memory. It's the day that Donnie, Sharon (b.) and Taron Luetjen (a.) were found shot to death in their quiet grey house on Elm Street.
Locals are clamoring for more information about who killed the Luetjens. People are asking who would want to kill two elderly people and a teenager....but the most asked question is WHY someone would want to kill two elderly people and a teenager.
Residents are questioning their own safety too. Is their a crazed killer or killers on the loose....what about the guy selling books door to door, should we trust him?
The small town rumor mill is buzzing in Cole Camp....Donnie Luetjen (a.)and his family were killed because someone wanted his Native American artifacts or his Civil War collection. The Luetjens were killed because they had just come into a good deal of money. Could Taron's biological mother have done it? What about a family member that had lived with the Leutjens before he was sent to jail?
At this point, all rumors. And it appears that rumors are going to continue to be the topic of conversation because cops are remaining very tight lipped about their investigation.
Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Clark won't comment on any potential suspect/s or say if there is anything missing from the Luetjens house, "we want to hold those things back to protect our investigation," Clark said.
The patrol's major case squad scaled back their investigation last week because officers had to report back to their respective agencies according to Clark.
"We do have a few officers assisting Benton County with their investigation and I expect that the majority of the major case squad will return next week. The most important thing for us is that the person or persons responsible for the Luetjens death be held accountable,” Clark said.
If you have any information that can assist authorities in the investigation you can contact the Cole Camp Police Department at 660-668-2321, the Benton County Sheriff’s Department at 660-438-5252 or the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Troop A Headquarters at 816-622-0800.