Thursday, April 24, 2014
Cold Case Cracked
AUGUSTA -- Police know how Blanche M. Kimball was killed 36 years ago, and now they believe they have found her killer.
Augusta Deputy Police Chief Jared Mills, left, and State Police Lt Chris Coleman answer questions on Tuesday afternoon in Augusta about the arrest in Seattle of Gary Raub, 63, who allegedly stabbed a 70-year-old Augusta woman to death in 1976. Blanche Kimball was found dead in her 352 State St. home June 12, 1976, after neighbors called to say she hadn't been seen for several days.
Staff photo by Joe Phelan
But the woman at the heart of the investigation remains a mystery.
She left behind only a few distant relatives and there's only a small paper trail of her life.
Maine State Police Lt. Christopher Coleman said police are compelled to investigate cold cases like Kimball's even when there are not a lot of loved ones seeking justice.
"Every story needs to be told," he said.
Gary Sanford Raub, 63, who has spent at least the past several years living on the streets of Seattle, has been charged with murdering Kimball. Raub made his first court appearance Tuesday and is being held in the Seattle Correctional Facility in lieu of $1.5 million bail.
Raub is scheduled for a second appearance today in King County District Court in Seattle. Coleman said Augusta Police Detective Jason Cote and Maine State Police Detective Abbe Chabot, who went to Seattle this week to charge Raub, could return to Maine with the prisoner on Friday. It is also possible the extradition process could take weeks or even months, Coleman said.
Even as DNA evidence and investigative work have given authorities what they believe to be a clear picture of the killing that occurred inside Kimball's 352 State St. home sometime in early June 1976, investigators are still trying to learn basic details about the first 70 years of Kimball's life.
"We're hoping some of this publicity will help us find out where her family was and what her background was," Coleman said. He hopes other family members will come forward to speak to police, because any additional information could help the investigation.
Coleman said Kimball's only known relative, who doesn't want to speak to the media, is pleased someone has been charged with her murder.
"We want to know what kind of person she was," Coleman said. "We just want to make sure we reach out to the family."
Little family, few details
Much of what is known about Kimball comes from a brief obituary, which says she worked as a practical nurse and a dental technician and had been employed by the Veterans Administration Center at Togus. She retired in 1973.
Kimball was born in Albany Township on March 27, 1906. Genealogy records show her maternal grandparents were farmers in Oxford County, and her parents, Fannie B. and Elliot Kimball, had a farm on Sawin Hill Road for a couple of years until 1908, according to "A History of Sawin Hill Road in Waterford and Albany, Maine," by Edward A. Holt.
Coleman said Kimball's mother ran a group home at the State Street house where her daughter would later be killed.
Brooks died in Augusta in 1963 and Kimball inherited the house with attached barn, according to city records. Kimball rented out rooms in her house, Coleman said. The house, on south State Street near the Hallowell line, was torn down in 1980 and the spot is now part of a parking lot.
"Other than that we don't have much information on her," Coleman said.
The only surviving relatives listed in Kimball's obituary are two aunts -- Gladys Swan of Melrose, Mass., who died in 1989, and Tessie Godfrey of Santa Cruz, Calif. -- and several cousins whose names weren't include. Those aunts were Kimball's sole heirs.
"Investigators struggled even back then to find her next of kin," said Deputy Chief Jared Mills of the Augusta Police. "They finally found her aunt in Massachusetts."
Attempts Wednesday to find residents in Albany Township who knew Kimball or her family were not successful. The township is an unorganized territory outside Bethel, in western Maine. Census data say about 500 people live in an area that includes Albany and two other townships.
(Continued on page 2)
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The Kimball house at 352 State Street in Augusta, near the Hallowell city line.
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