|Kitty Fugitt is still looking for the answer to who raped her 15 years ago|
What was supposed to be a night of celebration and new beginnings for a group of friends fifteen years ago has become a nightmare for nine people that survived a home invasion robbery and sexual assault in Stone County.
It was the first day of 1997 and the first day on the job for newly elected Sheriff Richard Hill, and a day that is forever etched in his memory.
|The Bank Tavern in Billings|
A group of friends had gathered to ring in the new year at The Tavern Bank in Billings but weren't ready for the night to end at closing time. The group decided to move the party to Richard "Dickie" Harald's house at 5214 Jasmine Road near Crane - a move that has altered the lives of those who traveled to Stone County that morning.
|Harald's home on Jasmine Road|
Harald was the first to arrive and says he was perplexed when his garage door wouldn't open. Instead of parking in the garage, he parked in the driveway walked the small paved path to his nearby house and was ambushed by two men when he reached the kitchen.
"They were wearing masks and started beating me up with bats." Harald says he fought back and was getting the better of the men when a third masked man appeared and threw him down the basement stairs. "I was hit over the head with a bat and they handcuffed my hands behind my back." The intruders had also unscrewed light bulbs throughout the house making it difficult to see, says Harald.
As the other five men and four women showed up they were separated, tied up and some of them beaten.
One of the women, Kitty Fugitt says, "they had guns to our heads and said they were DEA agents. We all thought it was a joke at first." That was until a gun was fired and the masked intruders, who referred to each other only as #1, #2 and #3, demanded the identification of every person in the house and told the guests "we're going to run you."
With #1 and #3 controlling the situation in the basement, Fugitt was singled out by #2 and raped upstairs. "It's changed me," said Fugitt.
While the others identification was returned to them, the perpetrator's kept Fugitt's. "The last words he said to me is, 'I know where you live; you say a word, I'll come for you," Fugitt said. "A few months later, (my license) showed up on my front door, and it was on the first day I left my house after the incident." She says it was like they had been watching her.
|Investigator's believe at least one of the perpetrator's gained access to the house through this window.|
Harald told detectives he saw a small to mid-sized, dark gray, charcoal or blue Celebrity or Citation four-door car parked on the right side of the road about 200 yards from his home as he returned from the bar to his house the night of the assaults.
"They left a considerable amount of evidence there," Sheriff Hill said. "(We) just haven't been able to put it together." In the years since the attack fifteen people have been cleared by investigator's, said Stone County Sheriff's Captain Tim Gideon.
As the DNA evidence collected that night began to gather dust in the evidence room of the Sheriff's office the alleged perpetrator's weren't through toying with the victims in the case. In 2004 federal authorities became involved after a threatening letter was mailed to Harald.
"To Rich and Debbie Harald
Listen here you motherfuckers you better keep your mouths shut or I will Shut them for you I promise you. This shit never should have went where It has. You and your wife sure talk a lot of shit. Your really aint worth the Paper that I'm wasting."
"That tells me maybe we're getting close," Sheriff Hill said, "and maybe they did know our victims. I don't want a case of this magnitude to go unsolved."
"He's seen my face. I want to see his," Fugitt said, "I want justice...that's what I want."
The statute of limitations has expired for any rape charges to be filed in this case, but robbery (a handgun and money were stolen from Harald's home during the commission of the crime) armed criminal action and felonious restraint charges are still applicable.
If you have any information that can help investigator's solve this case, you're asked to call the Stone County Sheriff's Department at 417-357-6116 or 9-1-1.
THE FOLLOWING IS A SYNOPSIS OF THE THREE SUSPECTS PROVIDED BY THE STONE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE:
Analysis of the combined reports describe the suspects in 1997 as:
- "#1" = 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, talkative, obscenities, deep semi-rough voice, 40+ years of age, leader of the group, tan work boots with cleated soles, stayed mostly downstairs, had a rifle in a sling, gruff, mouthy, husky, khaki mask.
- "#2" = 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10, 210 to 220 pounds, coveralls, dark green gloves, right hand had no rings or tattoos, muscular/chubby, early 30s, may have had long hair, black whiskers, hands were not rough, smelled like alcohol and cigarettes, voice was "raskley," sounded like Dickie, appeared to have not shaven around his mouth
- "#3" = 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10, 180 to 220 pounds, short, not real heavy, mid 20s, younger voice, unaggressive, green northern type boots, stayed mostly downstairs "guarding" back door, nice, deep voice, soft spoken, smaller than "#1"