Martinsville honors hate crime victim 50 years after her murder: ‘Never too late to do the right thing’

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. - The City of Martinsville is hoping to honor a woman killed nearly fifty years ago in what police have identified as a hate crime.

On Sept. 16, 1968, 21-year-old Carol Jenkins-Davis was killed while selling encyclopedias. To this day, her family says they’ve gone without closure. This week, the mayors of Martinsville and Rushville honored Carol’s life.

“It’s never too late to do the right thing. Fifty years, ten years, one day, it’s never too late to do what’s right,” Martinsville Mayor Shannon Kohl said.

Kohl says the city will honor Carol Jenkins, Davis’ life by placing a memorial stone and planting a maple tree in the garden of city hall. During the dedication ceremony, Kohl issued an apology to members of Carol’s family who were in attendance.

“Today’s ceremony hopefully will bring closure, strength and a spirit of support and togetherness,”  Kohl told the crowd.

Members of Carol Jenkins-Davis’ family described the ceremony as a moment they thought they would never see.

“My parents are growing old and it’s nice that they got to see this before they died,” Carol’s sister Laura Davis said.

During the ceremony, Davis addressed the crowd and asked them to use her sister’s memory and story as a reminder of how far the country still has to come when it comes to race relations.

“These things are going to continue to happen until we come together as one, all striving for the same goal of unity, a better life for our children, a better life for our grandchildren and peace,” she said.

Chris Page, the senior pastor for Hoosier Harvest Church, says he hopes the memorial serves as a sign that times have changed in Martinsville, which historically has had a reputation for racial intolerance.

“ I want Martinsville to be a place that not only was known for intolerance, I would love for it in the future as the years roll on for us to be known specifically as a place for healing and for tolerance,” he said.

While Carol’s family says the memorial dedication was an important moment, they say the only thing that could bring them full closure would be the people responsible for Carol’s murder being brought to justice.

In 2002, Kenneth Richmond, an Indianapolis resident,  was arrested and charged in her murder but died before he could stand trial.

The second suspect has yet to be found.