(SALINE COUNTY, Kan.) — Saline County detectives could be close to solving a 31-year-old cold case. Investigators say people of interest in the murder of William "Billy" Farmer have recently died. With those new developments, detectives hope people with information about the case will feel safer coming forward.
Billy was killed 31-years-ago, in a remote area outside New Cambria. For his widow, Brenda Henderson, decades-old memories are still fresh in her mind.
"My oldest son was 10. My baby was 16 months. I had a baby in diapers on a bottle. Can you imagine? My life went ka-boom,” Brenda said.
A photo taken months before the 30-year-old was found dead, shows what Brenda describes as a picture perfect family.
"He came back from Vietnam and we got married right after that. So, we were childhood sweethearts from the time I was 16 years old,” Brenda said.
But this image of family life started to break apart May 31, 1981. It was around 2:30 in the afternoon when Billy said he was leaving their New Cambria home, headed to Salina.
"Well later, went later, and later... and he never came home,” Brenda said.
Brenda got worried.
"I called around to a few of my friends. Like I said, he was known to have a beer or two. I called around to a couple of bars... looking for him,” Brenda said.
She couldn't find him.
"My best friend's husband says, well, I'm going to go look for him. And he did. And he found him. He found him dead,” Brenda said.
"He was shot seven times,” Detective Matt Fischer said.
Detective Fischer is part of the Saline County team opening-up Billy's case… hoping to close it for good.
"Investigators have worked the case extensively throughout the 31 years it has been cold,” Det. Fischer said.
Investigators are putting-out the pieces of information about this unsolved murder again... waiting for someone to come forward.
Billy was found shot to death in his 1971 Caprice. "It was along the river, outside of New Cambria,” Det. Fischer said.
What happened along the Saline River is only one of two cold cases in the county. Det. Fischer says new leads recently surfaced this year in the case... giving hope to family members that this mystery could get solved.
“Since some of these people of interest have passed away, people may feel it’s more comfortable now that they can come forward and give us information to help us close out the case,” Det. Fischer said.
And help answer questions... Like why? "We've had so many motives out there,” Det. Fischer said.
"Did we have money? We never had money. We always lived paycheck to paycheck,” Brenda said.
Brenda doesn't know of a motive. And she takes offense to any rumor suggesting Farmer was involved with drugs.
"It isn't the truth. Guaranteed. It isn't the truth,” Brenda said.
Brenda and investigators are still looking for the truth. "Solving these cases is like a jigsaw puzzle. Each little piece... is significant to the puzzle,” Det. Fischer said.
Any clue could put the missing piece back into this picture. And solve a mystery that has followed Brenda for decades.
"That is going to be a glorious day when that happens,” Brenda said.
Investigators say any information can help solve this case. If you can help, please call the Saline County Sheriff's Office at 785-826-6500, or Crimestoppers at 785-825-tips (8477).