Seeking closure - The unsolved murder of Barbara Blackstone
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"