Seeking closure - The unsolved murder of Barbara Blackstone

Over the years I've written a lot of stories for the paper I felt passionate about, however, the unsolved murder mystery of Barbara Blackstone is different. Not only am I passionate about her story, this summer I am compelled to honor her memory like never before - a part of me is also hoping that there can be some closure for the many people who carry the memory of her deep in their hearts.

I've written about her murder quite a few times since I've been at the paper. A murder that happened 30 years ago this summer. When she was killed I was just a 19-year-old girl - she was 30 years old.  I never knew her and truthfully I had never even heard of Juneau County, Wisconsin, let alone Lyndon Station, the small rural community where she lived. I was living in the suburbs of Chicago - an almost 3-hour drive away.

The first time her name entered my world was back about 2007 when I was looking for stories to cover. I needed money and considering I got paid by the article, I looked far and wide for stories to cover. I believe it was Rose Clark from the Juneau County Historical Society who first uttered her name to me. I then followed up with Juneau County Sheriff Brent Oleson, who confirmed that her death was an unsolved mystery.  Now, a decade later and more than a handful of articles later, I cannot get her out of my mind.

Excerpt from a recent article I wrote:
"As for Barbara, the woman who once called Juneau County home, her untimely and tragic death, remains unsolved. Reports state that on the afternoon of July 9, 1987, Barbara stopped at the gas station near the Interstate 90 in Lyndon Station. While there she filled up her car and a five gallon gas can for her lawn tractor. She and her husband, Tom, were planning a picnic and she was mowing an area of their property in preparation for the event. Tom had reportedly been at work that afternoon and when he arrived home in the early evening, he found the car with the keys still in the ignition. The car was parked by a shed. Barbara was nowhere to be found. Later that evening he phoned the Juneau County Sheriff's Office and filed a report.

Over the course of the two days following Barbara's disappearance, volunteers searched the area. Helping the effort were bloodhounds. While volunteers and police searched the ground, a helicopter from the National Guard took to the air to assist in the search. No clues were found. Barbara was missing.

It was nearly a month later Barbara was finally found. On August 4, her body was found southwest of Blanchardville, about two miles out, in some woods. She was found by a hunter on a scouting trek. Her body was in a state of decomposition. Dental records were relied on for a positive identification. According to news reports at the time, an autopsy report stated that she had been dead for about 25 to 30 days before her body was discovered. A confusing twist to her death was her body was found within 10 miles from the farm where she grew up, more than an hour's drive from her residence in Juneau County"

I've come to learn she was well loved by many - including the students in her classroom where she taught at New Lisbon High School, her co-workers, and her family. I have not heard one bad word about her. Not one. I know that sounds cliche, but it is true. She was one of those human beings who endeared all she met. 
This leaves the nagging question - who would have killed her? And why?
Yes, there have been rumors floating around for three decades in the community I now call home. But, thus far none of them have teeth- at least, not yet. 
Today I learned some new information. Compelling information - something that has never been reported before and will be revealed for the first time, next week- right now only a select few know the details. I told them as a form of protection, for Barbara and for me. A long time ago these words came out of the Sheriff's mouth to me, "Just remember Eva, be careful - her killer is still at large." Needless to say, a part of me back then was a bit fearful when I heard that reminder. 
Will this newly reported information bring us closer to solving this mystery??  Only time will tell. No matter what happens, I will continue to tell her story as best as I can. I only hope I am doing her the justice she deserves. 
Until justice is served I will continue to wonder about her -what her last moments were like - and all the other whys in this puzzle of a story. I know I am not alone. Others are wondering too. 
Well, Barbara - I and others will not be giving up, somehow your story will find that closing chapter, and hopefully, it ends with you smiling from above. 


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