Monday, September 14, 2009

New Annonymous Memorial Cross for Bonnie Huffman

The following was published in The Southeast Missourian, June 29, 2008. I republish it here, in hopes that it may find a new audience and jog someone's memory. The Huffman family, especially Bonnie's niece, Wanda Ross, deserve to know who murdered their loved one all those years ago. A discussion forum concerning the article can be found here.

Memorial cross appears at site of '54 Huffman killing

Memories of Bonnie Huffman, a Bollinger County woman found dead July 3, 1954, are still strong, though her case remains unsolved. Last week, someone anonymously left a cross at the scene where her body was found along Route N near Delta across from the Baptist church, continuing hope that information to solve the case is still available.

Huffman's niece, Wanda Ross, was 6 years old when her aunt was killed. She said the cross wasn't left by a family member but must have been put there by someone who knew specifics of the scene where her aunt's life ended.

Ross said the handmade cross was new but identical to one left at the scene 53 years ago. She said the new cross caught her family by surprise.

"My husband and I drove through there on Monday evening, and it wasn't there," she said. "Then when he drove through Wednesday it was there."

Huffman's friends and family have held several benefits to raise money for a reward for information leading to an arrest, conviction or resolution to her case. Ross said each benefit has resulted in a new lead.

"We had a candlelight vigil at the 50-year anniversary of her death," Ross said. "Then the sheriff's department got an anonymous letter."

The letter was sent anonymously to the Cape Girardeau Police Department, which forwarded it to the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department. In the letter, the writer described a frightening encounter with two men the night Huffman disappeared on the same stretch of the highway where her body was found.

Last year's vigil in June was followed by another anonymous letter in the fall.

Last month, another benefit was held with a dance and silent auction to raise more funds for the reward.

"This time we got a cross," Ross said.

Although the cross was placed at the scene after the benefit, Ross doesn't think the same person who wrote the letters left the cross.

She said it was a kind thing to do, and the family would like the opportunity to thank whoever left it.

Ross also said she's unsure how long family and friends will continue to raise money for the reward fund.

"If there's no closure to this, we're going to make sure some kind of memorial is made for her later," she said. "But I feel in my heart that there's still someone out there who knows something about what happened to her -- and if someone saw something like that, I know they wouldn't forget it even in all this time."

According to Lt. David James of the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department, last week's mysterious cross "does give us hope that someone has the information we need. What I don't understand is the hesitancy this person has to come forward. I can assure them complete anonymity. And even if they think they don't know enough to solve the case, they may have knowledge that is exactly what we need."

James asks that anyone with information call the department at 243-3551.

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