On January 18, 1970, two white West Virginia University freshmen, Mared Ellen Malarik and Karen Lynn Farrell were last seen entering a car that has stopped to pick them up while they were hitchhiking back to their dorm after going to the movies in downtown Morgantown. Local authorities assumed they were runaways. In the months that followed Mared’s purse was found alongside a rural road and then some eyeglasses. The combination of a reward offered and the beginning of a police investigation dampened the runaway theory. Then, on April 16th, their headless bodies were found in makeshift graves ten miles south of Morgantown. Suspects were numerous. Many young men had picked up and scared hitchhiking coeds. Others had molested and murdered. Some speculated that hippies or a Satanic Cult were responsible. In January 1976, Eugene Clawson, then a New Jersey inmate, confessed to the murders and then recanted, but was convicted in 1977. Co-author Fuller believes the real murderer was John Brennan Crutchley while co-author McLaughlin believes it was William Bernard Hacker, Sr. “With previously unknown details, The WVU Coed Murders is a page-turning murder mystery.” – Hoppy Kercheval. Sarah McLaughlin is a podcast producer from Central West Virginia. Geoff Fuller, also from West Virginia, is a professional writer who is the author of a novel and co-author of two other true-crime non-fiction works.
Charleston, South Carolina: History Press, 2021. 410 pages with an Index, a Reader’s Guide, and black-and-white photos. Trade paperback.