Lexington Police are investigating whether a London native is linked to the murder of a Transylvania University student nearly 50 years ago.
Betty Gail Brown was found dead in her car on Oct. 27, 1961, having been strangled by her bra strap. Her case has never been solved.
Police have identified two men who could be involved — London native Nolan Ray George, 67, and an unidentified man from California. George is a convicted serial killer who is currently in jail in Michigan for a murder he confessed to there.
Sherelle Roberts, public information officer for the Lexington Division of Police, stressed George has not been named a suspect in Brown’s murder, but detectives are reviewing evidence.
George’s name surfaced, Roberts said, at “a detective convention, for lack of a better term.”
“This is a situation where it’s an academic setting where detectives will come and do classes, taking their cases and sharing them with other detectives to get advice from other experts, to kind of get an exchange of ideas,” Roberts said.
Last week, Lexington Police Detective Rob Wilson told WKRC-TV in Cincinnati Nolan may have been responsible for Brown’s murder.
According to a 1984 Herald-Leader article, Brown was found in her car in the driveway of Transylvania’s Old Morrison building. The night before, she had apparently been in the university’s Forrer Hall studying for a biology exam.
Blood was found on the dashboard and on the window next to her body. Her purse and other belongings were found in the vehicle, along with her car keys.
Evidence showed she had not been raped.
Four years later, Alex Arnold, a drifter, confessed to the crime, but when the case was tried in 1965, the jury could not reach a verdict and he was never retried. Arnold reportedly talked to dots on the wall and his story changed several times.
George attended Lily, Colony and Hazel Green elementary schools. His transcripts show he completed fifth grade at age 13 in 1955-56, but that’s where his school history ends in Laurel County.
If he was involved in the Transylvania University murder, he would have been 18.
“This is a very, very sick individual,” said Detective Frank Smith, with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office in Hamilton, Ohio. “There is no way I could stress how dangerous this individual is. He’s got the charm of Ted Bundy and the same mode of thinking.”
Indeed, the manner in which Brown died is similar to the way George’s other victims were killed.
“Most of them are strangled by undergarments of some kind — bras, panties, nylons,” Smith said.
George was first charged with murder after the death of Frances Brown in March 1969.
“She was found in a car outside of a local bar in Lake Orion, Michigan,” Smith said, adding she’d also been strangled.
George was convicted of the crime and served from 1969 to 1981.
After his release, he moved to Butler County, Ohio, which is 20 minutes outside of Cincinnati.
“Immediately, the homicides started appearing here,” Smith said. “In 1982, Cindy Garland Rose was found strangled laying in a field.”
Within a week and a half, Tammy King, from Price Hill, Cincinnati, was found, like Rose, naked and strangled to death.
“We feel she was kidnapped, killed and dumped in Butler County,” Smith said.
Police were able to link George to Rose’s death — his fingerprints were found on a beer can near her body — and he was convicted.
In the meantime, George also admitted to strangling 36-year-old Gwendolyn Perry, of Pontiac, Mich., and another woman, Beverly Taylor, also of Pontiac. Perry was killed in the incident. Taylor survived but would not testify against George, Smith said.
Sure that George would go to prison for at least 40 years for the Rose killing, police agreed not to seek charges against him in exchange for the Perry confession, according to an Aug. 2 article in the Detroit Free Press. By continuing to pursue the case in appellate court, George only served from 1982 to 1992.
Earlier this year, prosecutors reviewed Gwendolyn Perry’s case and decided that, though police had offered George immunity for the confession, only prosecutors, not police, were in a position to do so, the Detroit Free Press reported.
On July 16, prosecutors signed a warrant for George’s arrest. Smith charged him with first-degree murder and he remains in the Oakland County Jail in Michigan.
According to Smith, that’s exactly where he belongs.
“He is a horrific serial killer,” he said. “The only way this guy, in my opinion, will ever stop killing is if he’s incarcerated or if he meets his demise.”
As of now, Smith said George is suspected of killing at least eight other women.
Staff writer Tara Kaprowy can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.