Cold Cases – A New One On Me

Information may lead to arrest in ’80 murder

BY KEITH UPCHURCH : The Herald-Sun
Mar 21, 2009

DURHAM — New information has surfaced that could lead to an arrest in the murder of a 13-year-old Durham girl who was brutally beaten and stabbed nearly three decades ago.

No one has yet been charged, but Maj. Paul Martin of the Durham County Sheriff’s Office said on Friday that he is hoping new leads may result in an arrest in the 1980 death of Darlene Tilley, whose body was found near railroad tracks off Old Oxford Highway.

The girl disappeared on Sept. 14, 1980, and was last seen walking on a service road north of Durham near Interstate 85 about 5:30 p.m. Her body was found on Nov. 15, 1980.

“She had been brutally murdered,’ Martin said on Friday. She suffered head wounds and stab wounds to her chest, back and abdomen, according to reports then.

“During 2005, I talked about the murder on a local radio station and as a result we were contacted by a person who gave us some new information,” Martin said Friday. “A person who was in a position of authority in Darlene’s community sexually molested a 13-year-old girl who was a friend of Darlene Tilley. This sexual molestation was never reported to the Sheriff’s Office.’

Martin she it’s likely that the person “used his position of authority to either sexually assault or make sexual overtures to other young girls who were friends or acquaintances of Darlene” in the Gorman community of East Durham. “These girls would have been in the 12- to 15-year-old age range during 1980.’

Martin said on Friday that more information has surfaced since that 2005 interview.

He’s now hoping that these potential victims might help the Sheriff’s Office make an arrest in the slaying.

“If you were a victim of this individual or you know someone who was a victim, please call me at 560-0884,’ Martin said. “Your call will be treated confidentially.’

Anyone with information also can call Lt. Stan Harris at 560-0881 or Investigator Tom Mellown at 560-0857.

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