Two prostitutes are murdered at a massage parlor.
Gloria Ross & Candy Belt
The girls were found dead
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.