The devil’s trailer Part 2

Severed Legs

There could be no doubt that a sinister force had announced its presence that Valentine’s Day afternoon 1987.  The fact that it chose Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church to reveal itself was an indication it intended to mock a gathering place of life, joy and family with its offensive brand of gruesome handiwork.  The additional fact that it seemed to taunt the community by offering only the dismembered legs of the victim, making identification nearly impossible, was proof this evil desired to inflict maximum horror and anguish on the community for as long as possible.  State and local law enforcement wasted no time gathering available facts and casting a wide net in hopes of quickly capturing the elusive evil. 

Aside from the presence of the severed legs, the rest of the scene appeared mostly undisturbed.  The legs lay about thirty feet apart in a wooded area near an embankment off of U.S. 52, about two miles southeast of Brookville, Indiana.  Investigators revealed the legs were those of a white female and were severed about eight inches above the knee.  They were clad in blue jean pant legs, with the feet and lower part of the leg in red and white striped socks inside tan, suede cowboy boots size 8 ½.  “It is a pretty awful crime,” said Indiana State Police Cpl. Charlton R. Beard, “and right now, we don’t have lead one about it.”   

From the appearance of the scene and the lack of blood traces, investigators concluded the legs weren’t severed at the site but were transported there.  “It looks like someone just pulled off the road and threw them off an embankment.”  said Indiana State Police Detective Sgt. Philip E. Wietholter.  Authorities combed the area around Brookville, trying to uncover additional evidence or leads that might help them identify the victim.  Officers checked abandoned buildings and area motels.  They followed potential leads from local residents reporting suspicious looking cars in the area.  More than a dozen police officers fanned out across the countryside trying to track down clues, but an intensive search of the area along U.S. 52 between New Trenton and Brookville revealed no additional evidence.  

Plans were made to transfer the severed limbs from the state police post in Connersville, Indiana to the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis for a pathology examination.  Without the rest of the body, identifying the victim was going to be a hard task.  “Unless someone identifies the shoes or socks, it’s going to be a difficult situation,” Weitholter said.  Hoping the examination could determine where the victim’s boots were purchased, Detective Weitholter thought the information might lead to an id of the victim.  However, another sad but promising development had already begun to take shape.  The desperate parents of missing loved ones had been contacting local law enforcement agencies with information.  Some parents had even reported that their missing daughters may have been wearing a similar color and style of boots at the time of their disappearance.

While the medical examination did provide additional details regarding the victim, it failed to uncover information that would readily point to an identification.  According to Sgt. Reginald Brewer of the ISP, the examination revealed that the white female was between 20 and 30 years old.  She was approximately 5 foot 5 inches and weighed around 170 pounds, give or take 20 pounds.  Brewer said pathologists could not determine the color of the woman’s hair, or how long the woman had been dead.  However, investigators believed the legs had been present at the site for less than 48 hours.  Authorities surmised a very sharp object, such as a knife or a saw, had been used in the dismemberment, because it produced a clean cut.  Sounding a bit pessimistic, Det. Weitholter added, “There was no evidence of scars or deformities that would have made it easier to identify.”  

The search for the body of the young woman continued on Tuesday, February 17.  An air search had been planned for that day but had to be called off due to snowfall in the area.  It was around this time, however, that investigators caught a break.  The family members of a missing Cincinnati woman were able to identify the severed legs as belonging to Monica Denise Lemen, 21, who had been missing since February 9.  Family members recognized the socks and were able to identify distinct markings on the boots.  “They recognized the stains on her boots, the size is right, and they even told us where the boots were bought.  We checked the store, and the boots had their code on them,” said Detective Weitholter.  Lemen’s father had reported the young woman missing on February 10, after she failed to show up for work the previous day and had not returned home that night.  The worried parents called around to friends during the night, but no one knew of her whereabouts.  

Monica Lemen had been employed as a waitress at Busken Bakery in downtown Cincinnati, and had shared an apartment on First Ave. with her boyfriend, Dennis Whitt, who aided in the identification of the severed legs.  She had been a student at Cincinnati Technical College where she took management courses.  Co-workers at the bakery described her as quiet and dependable, and someone who aspired to make something more of herself.  A search of Dennis and Monica’s Price Hill apartment was conducted, but investigators discovered no evidence of foul play.  Dennis Whitt was never considered a suspect in Monica’s disappearance and apparent homicide.  However, investigators did focus on one person of interest in fairly short order.  According to Monica’s mother and friends, the young woman entertained an interest in the occult, and this interest had brought Monica into the orbit of a very dark character. 


The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dayton Daily News

The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis News

The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana)

The Brookville Democrat

Franklin County Historical Society

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