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Scratches raised questions in Young death

Submitted by Carbondale Times on

Geoffrey Ritter
Carbondale Times

CARBONDALE — A strange injury observed on Molly Young’s ex-boyfriend the morning of her death caught the attention of police, and his explanation for the fresh scratches drew disbelief from at least one investigator.

Police responded the morning of March 24, 2012, to the Carbondale apartment of Richie Minton following a pair of calls — one to 911 reporting an apparent overdose, the second just minutes later to the Carbondale Police Department reporting a gunshot wound — to find Young, 21, dead on Minton’s bedroom floor from a bullet wound to the head.

Minton, then and now a dispatcher for the Carbondale Police Department, told investigators that morning that he woke to find his ex-girlfriend’s body next to his bed and immediately had his roommate call 911, according to police reports. He reportedly discovered the true nature of Young’s death just moments later.

“Mr. Minton stated that he had attempted to do CPR on Ms. Young,” an Illinois State Police special agent said at January inquest proceedings. “During the course of that, he discovered the gunshot wound. Before he discovered the gunshot wound, he had his roommate call 911, and then during the course of attempting to I guess treat or resuscitate Ms. Young, Mr. Minton then discovered the gunshot wound.”

Carbondale Police took Minton and his roommate to the police station for questioning, and State Police investigators arrived later in the morning.

Early that afternoon, Minton’s attorney advised ISP personnel that Minton was ready to submit to a test for gunshot residue on his hands. After the test was administered, Minton agreed to allow investigators to collect his clothing, and two Carbondale sergeants and an ISP investigator accompanied Minton to the locker room, according to police reports. 

There, they observed “two scratches that were about 6 inches long on Minton’s right side,” according to a report written by one of the sergeants. “The scratches appeared to be new, and ran horizontal a few inches below his right armpit. [One investigator] asked Minton what happened. Minton walked to a mirror and looked at the scratches. Minton began speaking in a low voice … He seemed to have not been aware that the scratches existed until they were pointed out.”

According to a separate ISP report, Minton told the men he must have gotten the scratches while giving Young CPR — a response that provoked incredulity from an ISP master sergeant in a September 2012 communication with a fellow investigator.

“I did see in an interview that [Minton’s] response was that it must have happened when he was giving her CPR. (I can’t believe that one.)” the master sergeant wrote. “Per the Lab report, can we also get the lab a copy of the boyfriend’s DNA to compare it to the DNA found under her fingernails?”

The subsequent analysis found a mixture of three male DNA profiles under Young’s right-hand fingernail clippings and a mixture of two profiles under those of her left hand. In both instances, “the predominant Y-STR haplotype … matches the Y-STR haplotype of Richard Minton.” State Police reports do not discuss any further physical evidence related to the scratches.

Many details of Young’s death have remained uncertain in the more than 15 months that have passed since it occurred, and State’s Attorney Michael Carr said late last month that he could not comment on any aspects of the case now. The Times previously has reached out to Minton, who said he was unable to comment.

In January, State Police officials presented many of the details included in reports recently obtained by the Times, as well as excerpts from Young’s journals indicating she was suicidal in the year preceding her death. Also, a text message sent from her phone to Minton’s roommate shortly before 5 a.m. the morning of her death indicated she planned to shoot herself in the head. 

The coroner’s jury ultimately ruled the nature of her death undetermined due to a lack of evidence. Lab analysis failed to find gunshot residue on the hands of either Minton or Young. A document in the State Police case file says Carbondale Police allowed Minton to wash his hands and change his clothes prior to taking him to the police station for questioning. 

Minton, who witnesses told police drank heavily that evening, contacted Young early that morning seeking her help. She came to his apartment sometime after 3 a.m., where she helped him change his clothes and get into bed, according to police reports. Minton told investigators he did not heard the shot that killed her, and investigators were unable to verify any fingerprints on the weapon.

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