It happened a long time ago, but the murder of Ruie Ann Park of Van Buren, Arkansas, is being resurrected for the documentary show Betrayed on Investigation Discovery (ID). Ruie Ann Park was the prominent wanna-be socialite who was bludgeoned to death in her home by her adopted daughter, Linda. The case was a whodunit, leaving Van Buren residents reeling from details in the sensational story. According to Pen-L Publishing, a book about the murder was penned by Anita Paddock and gives a riveting and detailed account of the case. Linda Susan Martin was imprisoned for the death of her mother. She is now free. Wednesday night's Betrayed, which covers the murder, is titled "Family Fatale."
Betrayed: Family Fatale
When the mother of a prominent family is found bludgeoned to death in her home, all eyes focus on her gay son, a struggling attorney. But when he dies from alcoholism just two years later, the spotlight circles back to a close member of the family, who happened to be the least one anyone would have suspected.
Van Buren, Arkansas: Death On Logtown Hill
When Sam Hugh Park saw the morning newspaper in front of his mother's home in May 1981, he knew it was strange. But when hours passed, and he used his key to enter his mother's home, the situation went from strange to grisly. His beloved mother, 75-year-old Ruie Ann Park, was found dead in a pool of blood.
First, Sam Hugh Park made a frantic call to 911, and then he called his sister, Linda Susan Martin, who lived in another city. By the time investigators arrived on the scene, Sam and Linda were beside themselves with grief. An autopsy report conducted on Ruie Ann Park confirmed that she had died of blunt force trauma. She was struck about 10 times on the head, according to Crime Watch Daily.
The murder was violent and fueled by a torrent of anger. A look around the crime scene was confusing. There was no sign of a robbery or forced entry. Whoever had killed Ruie Ann Park had most likely entered the home with a key. The investigation revealed that only two other people had a key to the Logtown Hill home--Sam Hugh and his adopted sister, Linda Martin.
With his reputation already somewhat tarnished since he needed money and had failed to gain a successful law practice, Sam Hugh immediately became the focus of the investigation. But, there was something else. He was also a homosexual, which would have created quite a scandal in town in the old days.
By most accounts, very few people liked Ruie Ann Park. Considered unfriendly and a bit "uppity," Van Buren Press Argus owner Ruie Ann Park was known as a historian, teacher, and journalist. Her son, Sam Hugh Park, was her pride and joy. However, her daughter, Linda, never gained her mother's approval.
Almost The Perfect Murder
After Ruie Ann Park's death, Sam Hugh Park drank himself to death, leaving the police and everyone else in the town with the thought that he was the killer. But a phone call to police dropped a bombshell that led detectives directly to Linda Martin.
Police learned that Linda's shyness and toned-down personality was always a bone of contention in the relationship with her mother, and the tension in the fragile relationship had finally come to a head. According to the tipster, Linda had confessed to her husband that she was the one who killed her mother, a fact that her attorney husband had already figured out for himself. In the end, Linda made a full confession to police. Here is what she revealed.
- Linda had found out that her attorney husband was leaving her for another woman.
- She was so distraught that she wanted to go home to her mother, where she believed she might be comforted. Instead, Ruie Ann Park did what she had always done, she belittled Linda and wielded a number of "I told you so's."
- Linda became enraged, picked up a gavel lying nearby, and used it to beat the living daylights out of her mother. According to 5 News, "She was standing over her mother when she was sitting over the bed, and she hit her 10 times with the gavel," Anita Paddock stated.
Linda was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but she was released on parole, just after four short years. According to Anita Paddock, she moved away and set up a new life. No one there knows who she is.