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A decade later, Molly Young's death remains clouded with questions

  • Ten years after the death of his daughter, Larry Young continues to offer a reward for anyone with information regarding the case.

    Ten years after the death of his daughter, Larry Young continues to offer a reward for anyone with information regarding the case.
    Kristin Moore photo

  • Molly Young

    Molly Young

  • The family of Molly Young and friends gathered Sunday afternoon at Turley Park in Carbondale to honor the memory of Young and provide updates in her case. Ten years later, Young's family continues to search for answers, all while paving the way for families who may have to endure the same heartbreaking experience they have had to live.

    The family of Molly Young and friends gathered Sunday afternoon at Turley Park in Carbondale to honor the memory of Young and provide updates in her case. Ten years later, Young's family continues to search for answers, all while paving the way for families who may have to endure the same heartbreaking experience they have had to live.
    Kristin Moore photo

 
By Geoff Ritter and Holly Kee
gritter@Carbondale Times hkee@localsouthernnews.com
Posted on 4/1/2022, 12:45 PM

A decade after Molly Young's life ended violently in the bedroom of a Carbondale apartment, her family marked the date with a short, sombre memorial service at Turley Park in Carbondale.

"There are milestones in life we want to hit," state Sen. Terri Bryant told a gathering of about 100 last Sunday afternoon. "There are other milestones we don't really want to hit. This is one of those where we're remembering, so I don't really want to call it a milestone -- unless we were celebrating the conviction of the person who ultimately we know took the life of Molly."

Police found the body of Young, a Marion High School graduate who studied at SIU, on the morning of March 24, 2012, in the bedroom of her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Richie Minton, who at the time was employed as a dispatcher at the Carbondale Police Department.

Minton, who reported the incident in a 911 call several hours after Young's assumed time of death, told first responders that he must have slept through the shot fired from his .45-caliber handgun.

No one has ever been charged in connection with Young's death. Two former Jackson County state's attorneys ultimately declined to file any charges in the case, citing some of its uncertain circumstances.

Similarly, a state appellate prosecutor conducted his own review of the case nearly eight years ago, but his final report offered no further finality. Young's father, Larry Young, has been in communication with current State's Attorney Joseph Cervantez, but there has been little public movement on the case in years.

The Young family continues to offer a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in Molly's death. Minton has never agreed to any interviews with investigators since the day of Young's death. He also has rejected or ignored all media requests for interviews.

The Justice for Molly group on Facebook, which numbers more than 22,000 members, has spent the last decade calling attention to some details of the case, including a lack of gunshot residue on the hands of Minton or Young and a lack of fingerprints on Minton's .45-caliber handgun that fired the shot.

Minton reported the death as an overdose in his 911 call, later telling first responders that he only found the gunshot wound after attempting to perform CPR on Young. When investigators discovered a pair of fresh, 6-inch scratches on his back that morning, he told them he must have sustained them while administering CPR.

Young's own words created even more uncertainty. At an inquest in January 2013, jurors heard extended excerpts from journals Young had kept in which she expressed a range of suicidal thoughts. Also, a series of text messages sent from her phone in the hours before she died detailed more suicidal thoughts and attempts to overdose on pills.

Perhaps most critically, a text message sent from Young's phone just moments before her presumed time of death indicated that she planned to shoot herself in the head after discovering text messages on Minton's phone in which he was trying to arrange for a sexual encounter with another woman.

The inquest jury ultimately ruled the cause of Young's death "undetermined," due to a lack of evidence.

In the meantime, Young's family and their supporters have cast suspicion on other details in the case, including the lack of fingerprints on the weapon, a lack of gunshot residue on Young's hands, and whether or not the right-handed Young could have shot herself on the left side of her head. Investigators found an insufficient amount of residue on the hands of either Minton or Young to show conclusively who pulled the trigger.

Investigators did not conduct a blood alcohol test on Minton until nearly 14 hours after Young's time of death. Witnesses told police he drank heavily the previous evening, and investigators also found traces of vomit on his shorts.

At the service, Bryant said that even though no certainty has been found after 10 years of looking, Young's death has led to positive changes, including legislation known as "Molly's Law" that created more vigorous consequences for government agencies that fail to properly respond to Freedom of Information Act requests.

"They just drag their feet until they run out the clock," Bryant said of Larry Young's long and ongoing battle with police agencies, notably the Carbondale Police Department and the Illinois State Police, for access to records about his daughter's death. "It's a little more difficult now for entities to drag their feet."

Larry Young has remained dogged. In addition to his communication with the new state's attorney, Young also said he is working with two out-of-state homicide detectives in an effort to reveal further evidence.

He said he is determined to see the case presented to a grand jury -- something that has never happened.

Molly Young's death also has inspired charity. For years, a memorial scholarship has benefited local students. Larry Young said that this year, $600 worth of art supplies is being donated to schools in Marion.

Sen. Bryant, who gave an impassioned speech at last Sunday's memorial, provided a deeply spiritual message, calling on Young's family and friends to have faith in God that they will eventually get closure.

Bryant said that one way or another, a moment of reckoning surely will come.

"There will be justice here, or there will be justice or the other side of glory," she said.