by Carol Thompson
For 44 years, Marlene Ashby waited for the day when she would learn the truth about the driver of the car who took the life of her four-year-old daughter.
For Ashby and her family, the wait is apaprently over.
Last Thursday, a City of Fulton resident reportedly confessed to police of being the driver of the car that hit and killed Carolee Ashby as she walked with her sister on Halloween night in 1968.
The Fulton Police Department is not releasing the identity of the driver publicly, according to Marlene’s daughter Darlene McCann, and while the family was allowed to read the confession, they weren’t allowed to have a copy.
The person who confessed to hitting Carolee will not be charged, McCann and Ashby said they were told, His name isn’t being released because he gave only a 99.9 percent confession, they said.
The case was cracked when a Facebook post, written by former Fulton Police Lieutenant Russ Johnson, led a witness to come forward. The witness alleged that she was asked by the driver’s mother to provide an alibi for her son (see related story). The witness said she refused to do it. The mother allegedly had put together that her son had been the driver to hit and kill Carolee.
Ashby and McCann said they were told that two brothers were in the car and both were intoxicated. The driver of the car, who was 19 years old at the time, reportedly told police that he wasn’t sure what he had hit, but knew he had hit something.
And while the wait is over for the Ashby family, the frustration and anger has just begun.
That’s because police had questioned the suspect several days after the accident and let him go, despite evidence against him.
The police report from November 3, 1968 states that the suspect had been questioned and an officer had noted that his story wasn’t consistent with the damage to his car.
“(Suspect) came to the station as his brother went to Tug Hill and had him come home from from a hunting trip,” the police report states. “I checked (suspect’s) car and found damage to the left front fender which he claims happened Oct. 31, 1968 on Route 57 at about 6:45 p.m. as the result of his car striking a guard post.”
The officer continued, “We went to where he claimed this accident took place and in my opinion the damage to his car never happened as he claims. I pointed out to (name redacted) that the paint that was removed from post was about 26 inches from the ground and the damage caused by the impact was close 35 inches from the ground.
The officer, whose name is redacted on the copy given to the Ashby family, stated that the dent in the fender was the size of a person’s head, something the suspect couldn’t explain. The brother of the driver was also questioned and could not tell police where the accident had taken place.
The suspect’s car matched witness descriptions, yielding yet another point of frustration for the Ashby family.
To read the rest of the story, see tomorrow’s paper