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Two prostitutes are murdered at a massage parlor.

Gloria Ross & Candy Belt

The girls were found dead

CASE DETAILS

Straddling the border between Kentucky and Tennessee is Fort Campbell, one of the largest army bases in the world.  Just down the road is the little town of Oak Grove, Kentucky, home to the New Life Massage Parlor.  Here, a handful of girls gave comfort to the troops.

They were shot and their throats were slashed

Tammy Papler was the owner of New Life. Though prostitution is illegal in Kentucky, Tammy said the police didn’t bother her because seven or eight officers regularly used the services she offered:

“The police department would pick out specific things for us to buy and they would order them.  I know there were lights for just about every car, shoes, uniforms, canine t-shirts, Christmas parties, Christmas bonuses.  They get basically what they want.  Those little seven or eight police officers and the mayor run the whole town.”

According to Tammy, one police officer, Ed Carter, used intimidation to take advantage of the situation, more than the other officers:

He wanted services and it was like, ‘Well, I know what’s going on.  I’m a police officer.  Who are they gonna believe, you or me?’” 

Carter insisted that Tammy contract with him for janitorial services.  When she went on vacation, Tammy says Carter virtually took control of the massage parlor.  Finally, Tammy says, she had to have Carter barred him from the establishment:

“It was like he was the madam. I wasn’t the madam anymore. It was actually like he was. I was furious with him.  I didn’t want him around my business anymore.  I didn’t want him around the girls. We had had a meeting and I informed each and every one of them of this. ‘You do not allow him around here anymore.  It’s the end of it.’”

On September 20th, 1994, the bodies of two of Tammy’s workers — 22-year-old Candy Belt and 18-year-old Gloria Ross — were discovered in a back room of the brothel.  Both had been shot execution-style.  Both of their throats were slashed.

Were the police involved?

Earlier that evening, Ed Carter had stopped by the massage parlor. He told investigators that he went home to his wife at 3 AM, well before the murders, which occurred around 4 AM, according to the coroner’s report.  Carter and his wife, Carol Moore, have since been divorced. She said her ex-husband was not home at 3 AM, as he claimed:

“He came in a few minutes after 4:00.  I made it a habit of looking up at the clock when he came in.”

The two women were shot with a small-caliber gun.  Ed Carter told police that he owned no such weapon.  His ex-wife disagreed:

“Well, Ed did own a small-caliber gun. He kept it under the mattress for my protection.  It was not there that night. I had not seen it from the Christmas before the shootings.”

Ed Carter voluntarily took a polygraph exam a few weeks after the murders.  Major Billy Gloyd of the Christian County Sheriff’s Department spoke about the test:

“I can’t tell you whether or not he passed or failed his polygraph.  The only thing I can tell you is that he did resign from the police department and that he did secure an attorney after the polygraph.”

Attorney John Stewart represented Carter:

“Mr. Carter’s never run.  He’s never fled the area.  He’s never left the area.  Whenever he was questioned, he always cooperated.”

Tammy Papler saw things differently:

“I feel like Ed Carter killed them, I honestly do.  I feel like he is the one who actually pulled the trigger.”

Carter moved to another part of Kentucky.  As the case went cold, Tammy got so angry she went public with her suspicions at a July 15, 1997, city council meeting:

“They felt they didn’t have to investigate it because no one’s gonna ask any questions.  They’re just two dead prostitutes.  And no one’s gonna care about it.”

A former Oak Grove City Councilwoman backed up Tammy’s claims of police corruption. Patty Belew shocked the chamber when she admitted that had worked at the New Life Massage Parlor for two years:

“I announced to everybody that her allegations of police corruption and things of that nature were true.  I’d known about them comin’ into the parlor.  And the reason I know about that is because I used to work there. I always felt that the police officers were involved.  They were there all the time.  They knew the routine.  They knew everything.  They knew the ins and the outs about the place. There’s so many things that just kept pointing towards them.”

John Stewart said the claims made about his client were just not true:

“Ed Carter did work at this facility as a janitor, but Ed Carter did not commit these murders.  He wants to have this matter, as far as he’s concerned, brought to closure. He wants to see the final chapter written, where it can be stated, without a doubt, that Ed Carter had absolutely nothing to do with the murders.”

Tammy Papler just wants justice:

“I hope that justice will be served, I hope that they charge the police officers.  I hope they clean up the corruption.  And I hope they start the town all anew.  But most of all, I want Gloria and Candy to know that we fought for them, and that we’re gonna see justice is served for them.”

The murders remain unsolved.

Update:

A seven year investigation by the Kentucky State Police ended with the arrests of two former Oak Grove policemen. One was Ed Carter, who was arrested in Ohio and extradited to stand trial. Another former police officer, Leslie Duncan, was arrested and charged with complicity to murder. A third man, Frank Black, who was not a police officer, was indicted for the murders of Candy Belt and Gloria Ross. The three went on trial in 2016, and all three were acquitted.


 

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season ten with Robert Stack and in season one with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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23 Comments

  1. Dear Justin

    I care. I don’t know you. I know now, and I care. Its never about not caring, its the people who can do better, don’t. Most of the World is in the same position you are. Powerless. That said, it doesn’t change anything if there’s no name to rally for. What’s your brother’s name? I can’t promise you justice will be served. It wasn’t for these young women. And if you strongly believe the system is that corrupt. Give them no legitimate reason to crucify you. Let your voice be un obstructed by someone else’s unjust titles placed on you.

    Reply

  2. Justin

    What was never reported was that my brother was murdered 4 months before this and Leslie Duncan swept it under the rug as justified homicide with no investigation whatsoever.
    My brother knew these girls.
    My brother was murdered before them.
    Nobody but me cares.
    If Leslie Duncan is out of prison, I will find him.

    Reply

  3. Anonymous

    Ed Carter, Leslie Duncan, and Frank Black, Jr. have been arrested and charged in this crime. Duncan was arrested on charges of tampering with evidence in the case and apparently after this the State Police had the evidence they needed to charge Carter and the other man in the case.

    Reply

  4. Sylvia Creasman

    They still haven’t found Manuela’s killer, guess working the hooked case had priority. Guess servicing the cops helps

    Reply

  5. Justme

    Shortly after the murders a nightclub on riverside drive opened. The person who opened it should have been questioned.

    Reply

  6. Anonymous

    My God have mercy on all of us…on 9/14/16 They found them all not guilty.. my heart is breaking! Why would they hold the trial in the same town that the cover up went as far as the mayor in?? No justice whatsoever.. we will never stop till justice has been served.

    Reply

  7. Shari guinn morgan

    Candy wasn’t just a escort she was mother of 2 Sha graduated 1st in her class from providence high she wanted to be a accountant she was loved by so many. If u met her u loved her

    Reply

  8. Big and Rich

    New trial sh0uld be over tomorrow. They all will walk

    Reply

  9. Intrested

    There is no way Ed had anything to do with this and then spent 20 years with not so much as a traffic ticket. He is not a violent man, he wouldn’t have the intelligence level to pull something like this off and keep it secret for 20 years. Where the hell does Frank Black come from? Why did great wife change her story AFTER she filled for divorce? How about the man who saw Frank in the area? Changed his story too? My opinion is look at JJ, it was hurting his business. Can’t ask him though because he is dead too. Then we come to he point of how can you try a mirder when you already have a conviction on the same case for tampering with evidence which was got on a plea deal just to be done with his mess. Then all of a sudden 20 years latter they find a box of evidence??? No chain of custody there. This case was messed up from day one by poor police work. Now we are wasting the states money on a bunch of assumptions just to make it go away. No matter what the verdict is now they can say wel we made an arrest and it’s no longer a cold case on their books.

    Reply

    • Makes sense to me

      Plenty of people including Serial Killers are upstanding citizens after committing atrocious crimes. Wives talk after getting dumped BC they often think the secret of this crime will keep their man in line. Same stupidity that puts children in the foster system. Its gross this case was purposely jepodized to protect people who were so unabashingly open about their patronage.

      Reply

  10. Bernard Short

    I remember this case nearly 20 years ago because I still have the original Unsolved Mysteries Bizarre Murders DVD Set because I remember the episode when a couple of young Escorts from a local Massage Parlor were found dead & with 2 Policemen under suspicion for the deaths of those young women even though the case to me wasn’t solved until I’ve came across this website to learn about the case & its update when those same Policemen were then indited for the killings because I remember the scene when they were then interviewed on the show lying between their teeth so that they can throw off the viewers & so this could buy them time to keep their freedom but I’am so proud of this shows good work .

    Reply

  11. More Information

    • Just Wondering

      I STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW FRANK BLACK JR. BECAME A SUSPECT IN THIS HOMICIDE WITH EX-COPS ! I’VE READ DETAILS THAT HE WAS ACCUSED OF RAPE WHEN HE WAS 19 YEARS OLD AND IS A REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER, BUT HOW DID THAT BRING HIM INTO A MURDER FOLLOWING THAT ?

      Reply

  12. Nobody

    There has been no indication of why Frank Black was arrested for involvement. Sounds to me like the whole town is crooked and wants to place blame on someone else. Where did Black Come from?

    Reply

  13. Neighbor

    Ed carter needs to be investigated in the murder of his former neighbor Manuella Scarlett.

    Reply

  14. grace

    I just wonder why the owners weren’t charged with anything. It is easy to blame people for a crime when in my opinion the could be just as guilty. If they didn’t have a business like that Gloria and Candy would not be dead today. In my eyes they are just as dirty as all the people they are claiming are involved in the murders. I knew all these people personally and its so hard to believe.The truth will come out in the trial and hopefully all the people that used their services will to! Cops weren’t the only clients. Attorneys Doctors others to. Anyone can accuse someone of something to throw suspicion off of them. Only God know what happened for sure…but two beautiful girls died and children were left motherless. Wonder if the owners feel any guilt in their death as well…they should if it wasn’t for them having a dirty place like that open none of this ever would have happened in my opinion. May Gloria and Candy finally get justice and rest in peace.

    Reply