(UnitedVoice.com) – Television often shows law enforcement officers solving cases within a couple of days or hours. Certainly, there are crimes that are very easy to close. That, unfortunately, is not always the case, which is why there are so many cold case squads in departments across America.
In Boardman Township, Ohio, the murder of a little boy has haunted the town for more than 50 years. Crimes against children always hit police harder, making it even more special when one of those cold cases is solved. That’s what law enforcement believes they have finally done after naming a suspect in the five-decade-old murder.
On March 31, 1972, 12-year-old Bradley Bellino left his friend Donald Templeman’s home and headed home. The children had spent the day together, soaking up the freedom of Easter Break. They were both in sixth grade at the local middle school and reportedly spent all of their free time with one another, even playing on the same baseball team.
Generally, after a long day together, Donald’s mother would drive Bradley home. But on that fateful day, she had to go to the grocery store, so she wasn’t able to do it. Instead, Bradley decided to walk home — but he never made it there.
Bradley’s family reported him missing on Saturday, April 1. By the 2nd, Easter Sunday, they were terrified that something happened to him. Sadly, they were right. On Tuesday morning, someone found the 12-year-old’s remains inside a dumpster behind a local store. He’d been strangled to death with a belt after being assaulted in the worst way.
The murder of the innocent 12-year-old boy haunted Boardman Township. Try as they might, the police department was unable to solve the case.
Suspect Named 50 Years After Killing
On Tuesday, January 24, the Boardman Township Police held a press conference. After 50 years, law enforcement named Joseph Norman Hill as the suspect in the child’s murder. According to WFMJ 21, the police said the suspected killer was 32 years old at the time of Bradley’s death.
The case went cold for decades but was reopened in 2001. Former Police Chief Jeffrey Patterson sent the victim’s clothes to the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. For years, the evidence was tested, and then, finally, there was a hit. According to authorities, there was a 98.2% DNA match to Hill.
Newsweek reported current Police Chief Todd Werth said investigators were confident that they’d found their killer. Hill died from natural causes in 2019, but if he were still alive, the chief said prosecutors would have brought the case before a grand jury. Law enforcement is now trying to find out if the suspected killer also took the lives of two other boys — 13-year-old David Evans and 15-year-old Thomas Baird — who went missing and were found dead during his time in the town.
Bradley’s best friend, Don, told 21 News that he was happy there was finally closure.
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