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Children of murder victim have new hope for case to be solved

Submitted photo The cold case unit of the Washington County Sheriff's Office said this billboard image will be placed on Ohio 339 near Beverly to encourage anyone with information on the deaths of Kimberly and Daniel Fulton to call or contact the department.

WATERTOWN TWP. – The Allen home sits on a high hill above Waterford Road, overlooking the narrow valley. On Thursday morning, the front yard was decorated with holiday lights and statuettes. Inside, a Christmas tree stood by the fireplace, and glittery stockings were suspended from the mantel.

For Miranda Allen, and her brother, Michael Fulton, it will be the 24th holiday season without their mother, Kimberly Fulton, and their youngest brother, Daniel Fulton. Both were victims in a double homicide in Palmer Township 1995, a crime that remains unsolved. Kimberly Fulton’s surviving children – Miranda is 33, Amy Huck is 32, and Michael is 28 – have received fresh encouragement that whoever killed their mother and brother might soon be brought to justice.

Miranda and Michael, sitting in the big living room at the Allen’s Waterford Road house,said they both believe the latest effort by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office cold case unit will succeed in bringing someone to justice.

“We’re more determined than ever,” Miranda said. “We have faith in that cold case team, there’s new technology, they will get an indictment.”

She said the family reached out to the cold case team in November 2017 after seeing its success in solving two cases. The team, two veteran law enforcement officers from the sheriff’s office, came up with new leads and ultimately solved the deaths of Lt. Ray Clark, who was murdered in his home in 1981, and Patrick Arnold, who died from a shotgun blast in 2007. The unit recently wrapped up the Patsy Sparks case, in which a woman disappeared in 1992. Her remains were found in Noble County two years later. Randy Joe Slider pleaded guilty in that case in August.

Photo by Michael Kelly Miranda Allen and Michael Fulton look over family photos of their mother, Kimberly Fulton, and newspaper clippings about the deaths of her and their youngest brother, Daniel, in 1995. The deaths were determined to be homicides, and the Washington County Sheriff's Office cold case unit has reopened the case.

The team announced a renewed focus on the Fulton double homicide last week.

“I contacted the sheriff’s office, sent an email to Sheriff Larry Mincks. I know the case has been cold a lot of years, but I knew about the cold case team and wanted to get word to them that we were interested,” Miranda said. “They contacted me, told me they had to wrap up the Sparks case first.”

Miranda was 8 years old, Amy was 7 and Michael was 4 when their mother and little brother perished.

“We were right down the road at our father’s place. They were separated at the time,” she said. “A neighbor knocked on the door and said mom’s house was on fire.”

Afterward, she said, the three surviving children stayed with their father and sometimes with one or the other grandmothers.

Authorities at first thought Kimberly and Daniel died because of the fire, but investigators called for a second autopsy, requiring the exhumation of both bodies two months later, and determined mother and child had died before the fire by suffocation and strangulation

. One man eventually was arrested three years later but a grand jury declined to indict him, and at that point, with no further developments the case became dormant.

The children are now adults with their own families. Miranda works at Marietta Memorial Hospital in the IT department, her husband Heath works for Nine Energy, and they have two boys. Michael, who has a son, is maintenance supervisor for Wetz transport, and Amy, who has a boy and a girl, works at the Citizens Bank in Barlow.

“We share our memories of mom and Daniel with our kids, show them pictures, tell them we wish they could be here to enjoy it at Christmas, birthdays,” Miranda said. “Mom was always loving, caring, always involved in our lives. Her kids always came first.”

Kimberly Fulton also was attached to the holidays.

“She was just like me, she loved to decorate,” Miranda said. “We always put something on her grave. She missed graduations, marriages, the births of her grandchildren, all the fun things in life. And Daniel, he missed his whole life.”

Over the years, hope that justice was possible diminished.

“We know it was murder, and everyone has their speculation about it. You honestly get to the point where you think it will never be solved,” she said. “We’re hanging on, waiting for new information.”

The team is made up of Lt. Bruce Schuck and Lt. Jeff Seevers, along with assistance from state law enforcement experts. Schuck has professional experience in fire investigations, and Seevers was one of the deputies on the original investigation of the Fulton murders.

“It really helped when we talked to them,” Michael said. “Lt. Seevers, he was one of the people on the case when it happened. I think he takes it personally.”

Aside from announcing last week it would re-open the case, the sheriff’s office has been unspecific about new developments, alluding only to newer technology as a resource and to the prospect of people coming forward with new evidence. The department has placed a billboard on Ohio 339 near Beverly, a few miles from where the crime occurred, hoping it will prompt someone to contact the team. The case now has a dedicated phone line for people who want to help.

“The ultimate goal is to raise awareness. Somebody out there has a key detail,” Miranda said.

“We feel that a lot people in the community know things but aren’t talking,” Michael said.

Seevers said last week they are confident the case is solvable. The team reviewed 15,000 documents related to it, he said, and has the advantage of being focused almost exclusively on this case.

“Things arose, and now we are waiting for someone to call … we know there are people out there who know what happened,” he said.

Michael said he believes the murders are burdening someone’s conscience.

“I hope it weighs on them like it has weighed on us,” he said.

The killing of an adult, a mother, is an awful crime, but slaying a child carries with it a particular horror.

“I don’t know how anyone could live with themselves, murdering a 17-month-old baby,” Miranda said.

The phone number to reach the cold case unit with information is 740-760-0760.

Michael Kelly can be contacted at mkelly@mariettatimes.com.

The case:

• Kimberly Fulton, 28, and her 17-month-old son, Daniel Fulton, died March 5, 1995, believed at the time to be victims of a house fire.

• Their bodies were exhumed two months later for a second autopsy that determined that they were killed before the fire, which investigators concluded was set to cover up the cause of their deaths.

• A suspect was arrested three years later but prosecutors failed to get an indictment.

• The Washington County Sheriff’s Office cold case unit was formed in 2012, and has to date solved three homicides.

• Anyone with information on the Fulton homicides is encouraged to call 740-760-0670.

Source: Times archives.

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