Judge reveals details of child's death

April 2, 1982
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- In an open letter to the killer of a 9-year-old girl, a county judge described how the child allegedly was forced to watch the digging of her grave and threatened the unknown slayer with the gas chamber.

'I am personally going to see that you are sent to the gas chamber,' Greene County Circuit Judge Don Clough told the killer, in a letter sent to the Springfield news media Thursday.

'I'm going to be present when they strap you in, and it's going to be the happiest day of my life.'

Clough warned new evidence soon will be available in the death of Shirley Jane Rose and invited witnesses of the slaying to come forward voluntarily or alsoface the death sentence.

The child disappeared Oct. 17, 1975. Her decomposed body was found in a shallow grave near a municipal water supply north of Springfield Dec. 13, 1975.

'So that you will know that I know exactly the way things happened, I'm going to tell you about the last few minutes of Shirley's life,' the letter said. 'These facts have never been published by the news media.

'Shirley was taken out to McDaniel Lake. She was told she would be killed. She was made to stand there and watch her grave being dug. She was crying. When the grave was ready, you took your bare hands and strangled her. You were not alone. There were a number of other people with you.'

Clough said the child was abducted because the killer thought certain drugs would be returned to him or he would be paid for them if he had the child to trade.

'Unfortunately for Shirley, the search for her came about so fast that you panicked and killed her,' the letter said.

Clough said he had received the information when he was an attorney, from a client, and therefore could not reveal the source's identity. The former client, who is ill and could die at any moment, has been afraid to talk but wants the information about the killing released when he dies, Clough said.

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