1974 Farmhouse Slaying: Jury Still Can’t Agree

Jurors are still deliberating over the outcome of a man who has been charged with the first degree murder of a 17-year-old girl at an Iowa farmhouse in 1974.

67-year-old Robert “Gene” Pilcher is still waiting to learn his fate, after jurors told Judge Richard Meadows about the lock. Meadows told the jury to continue their discussions. Several hours later though they were eventually sent home, and they are expected to resume their deliberations on Wednesday.

Pilcher has been accused of shooting Mary Jayne Jones at his cousin’s farmhouse in Ottumwa. Prosecutors have conceded that the cousin wasn’t there when the incident took place.

Tests linking Pilcher to the murder were conducted in 2012. Authorities arrested him after they linked his DNA to semen stains found on a blanket that was located underneath Jones’ body.

However, Pilcher insists that he is innocent of these crimes. He claims that the semen that was on the blanket came from a previous sexual encounter that had taken place at the abode days before the tragedy. Prosecutors have been unable to offer up any other evidence that links Pilcher to Jones’ death.

Pilcher’s attorney, Allen Cook, informed jurors during his opening remarks that his client wasn’t responsible for the teenager’s murder. He also added that some other semen that was found on the blanket came from a man that is still yet to be identified.

Cook stated, “I think, generally, the defense theory would be that Mary Jayne Jones got involved with somebody that she didn’t know was dangerous, somebody she trusted, and she paid the ultimate price. Undeserving as it is, that’s what we believe.”

At the time of her death, Jones was working at Henry’s Drive-In restaurant. She had originally moved to Iowa from North Carolina in 1973 to live with her sister.

Investigators confirmed that she was beaten with a gun before being shot twice with a rifle, once in the head and another time in the heart.

Pilcher is the prosecutor’s main suspect to have conducted the attack because he had easy access to the building, was a regular to Henry’s, and had asked Jones out on several dates, all of which she had rebuffed. Pilcher was also accused of sexually assaulting another woman in the same room four days earlier too.

Pilcher wasn’t charged earlier with the crime because officers couldn’t find “a direct link.” However, after the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation re-examined the case in 2010, they conducted tests on the 38-year-old semen-stained blanket, which has since been used as key evidence against Pilcher.