Jul 14, 2012 3:01 PM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Police moved closer to cracking the 1994 slayings of two young women at a southern Kentucky massage parlor, arresting a former Oak Grove police officer who once was involved in investigating the grisly slayings.
Leslie A. Duncan was arrested Thursday and charged with tampering with physical evidence, Kentucky State Police said. Duncan, 49, of Central City in western Kentucky, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Friday. He's being held in the Christian County Jail on $50,000 bond.
Duncan was the police department's lead investigator in the case, state police Trooper Stu Recke said in a phone interview Friday.
Recke didn't provide specifics about what led to the felony charge so many years after the slayings.
"This is the first step, which is a big step toward solving this case," he said. "We're going to see where this leads us to."
A preliminary hearing in Duncan's case is set for next Friday. Duncan indicated he would hire an attorney, but there was no record that he had done so yet in the local court or at the jail.
The slayings occurred on Sept. 20, 1994, at the New Life Massage Parlor in Oak Grove, near the Fort Campbell Army post that straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee border.
The victims were 22-year-old Candida Belt and 18-year-old Gloria Ross. The women, who worked at the parlor, were shot and stabbed. Their bodies were found in a back room of the business.
The slayings happened late at night, when the two had been left alone while co-workers went to get something to eat and take another worker home. The parlor closed soon after the slayings.
An Oak Grove police officer worked part time as a janitor at the parlor and resigned from the force after the slayings. State police don't know if that officer was on police duty or working at the parlor when the killings occurred, Recke said. He said that Duncan wasn't that officer.
Recke said he didn't know whether Duncan could face additional charges, and declined to say whether police have other suspects.
Duncan was among Oak Grove police officers who responded to the parlor soon after the slayings, he said. It was several hours before the Christian County sheriff's office was brought in to assist with the investigation.
He said that new interviews helped lead to Duncan's arrest.
Belt's uncle, Johnny Belt, said the family has never given up hope that her killer might eventually be caught.
"We're happy somebody's been arrested," Belt said in a phone interview. "Hell, it's been going on 18 years. That's been a long time."
Belt, who was known as "Candy" by family and friends, remains a presence at her grandmother's house in Providence in western Kentucky. There are photos of her throughout the home, and her son Christopher, now 22, lives at the house. Her son is a local roofer.
"It drove my mom crazy for years, wondering are they ever going to catch them," said Johnny Belt, whose mother, Wanda Belt, was Candy Belt's grandmother. "All we can do is hope. Everybody misses her badly."
Candy Belt, who was a mother of two young sons, had been taking classes at a local college for a couple of years before her death, focusing on business management, her uncle said.
Johnny Belt said his family has been frustrated by the handling of the case by local authorities.
"It seems like they just gave up on her," he said.
State police became involved in the case in 2006.
"Unfortunately, sometimes they take a lot longer than you'd like them to take, but I'd call this a first major step in this case," Recke said.
Associated Press Writer Beth Campbell contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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