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Murder / Son misses his mother


Salina Journal, The (KS)-February 16, 2004

        FROM PAGE A1

        The local Eagles Club, where Carol Fleming was a member, has offered $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of her murderer, said Paul Abram, a club officer. The offer never has been advertised since it was decided by the club’s board six weeks ago.

        “We don’t even know what to do with it. We’re waiting on a return phone call from law enforcement,” he said. “We don’t know whether to give the money to the sheriff’s department or to the state. We were relying on them to do the reward fund instead of the club itself doing it.”

        To date, no reason for Carol Fleming’s murder has been discussed by investigators, said Chuck Fleming, 31, the first of her four sons.

        “I can’t imagine any motive at all. I lived right there,” he said. “I knew what she did. I just can’t fathom why anybody would want to murder her.”

        Unlike others in Beloit, he’s not complaining about the lack of information from authorities.

        “I’d rather have it be like this than have them rush into something and really screw it up,” Chuck Fleming said. “They’ve got to weigh everything three or four times and get it right. They only get one chance at it.”

        Employed by a local contractor, he said he’s trying to get back into a routine. But it wasn’t easy in the days and weeks following the murder.

        “The first month or so was just rumorville,” he said, “people looking at you, and you’re wondering what they’re thinking.”

        Chuck Fleming said he was at a local bar until 2 a.m. on the night his mother was killed, before returning to his neighborhood where he visited with residents across the street from the Fleming home, 622 E. Fourth.

        “I left again to go to try to find a friend’s house. I met him at the bar,” he recalled. “I couldn’t find it, so I went home, and that’s when the cops came in.”

        He said he parked his pickup truck in the garage and “was in the process of feeding the dog when the cops showed up. They took me to the street. There were four or five police cars there, keeping people back, and the ambulance was there.”

        Also outside, he said, was Rick Harris, Carol Fleming’s boyfriend; Harris’s son, David Harris; and Chad Fleming, one of Chuck’s three brothers.

        Roughly an hour later, Chuck Fleming said he and Chad Fleming caught a ride to the law enforcement center where they were interviewed separately.

        Harris, a spray pilot from Burr Oak, would not discuss the case but echoed community hopes for some resolution.

        “Everybody kind of wants to know who and why,” he said. “I hope the law enforcement has made headway on it. I don’t know what they know. I sure hope they get somebody caught one of these days.”

        Carol Fleming’s home has been sold, Chuck Fleming said, and it’s being remodeled.

        He said his last contact with law enforcement was about a month ago with Pettijohn.

        Bob Milburn, retired general manager of the Beloit Daily Call newspaper, said the public has a right to know “whether they’ve discontinued the investigation” or if it’s still ongoing.

        “They’ve always said they’re waiting for the lab tests to come back,” he said. “The case is six months old. They should have been back by now.”

        Meanwhile, Chuck Fleming said his mother’s death leaves a major void in his life.

        “She meant the world to me,” he said. “I really didn’t see her as my mom per se. She was really more like a friend.”

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