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Calvin D. PERRY III

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

   
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery - Rapist - Child molester
Number of victims: 3 +
Date of murders: September 17, 1983
Date of arrest: January 6, 1984
Date of birth: 1965
Victims profile: Dan and Jane Osborne and their 11-year-old son Ben
Method of murder: Beating with a baseball bat
Location: Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana, USA
Status: Committed suicide by hanging himself in his jail cell on January 16, 1984
 
 
 
 
 
 

Jail death spurs inquiry and opens a racial rift

By Andrew H. Malcolm - The New York Times

January 21, 1984

Federal investigators today began trying to reconstruct the events leading to the death of a young black who had been accused of murdering a white newspaper editor and his family.  

At the same time, a Federal conciliator was trying to reopen a fragile dialogue between blacks and whites in this city, who have been divided by suspicions that the black was murdered in jail. The suspect, Calvin D. Perry 3d, 18 years old, was found dead in his cell Tuesday morning, a day after he was formally charged with killing Dan and Jane Osborne and their 11-year-old son Ben with a baseball bat on the night of Sept. 17.  

The Osbornes' dog was also killed and a 2-year-old daughter sexually molested and clubbed. The case stirred a wave of fear through this aging northeast Indiana city of 170,000 people. Mr. Osborne was the editorial page editor of The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. His daughter now lives with relatives in another state.  

Mr. Perry, who lived within three blocks of the Osbornes and had a history of violence, was tracked down Jan. 6 by General, a police dog that followed the scent and footprints in the snow of a man wanted for assaulting and robbing another woman in her home. While he was being interrogated that day, Mr. Perry confessed more than a dozen other felonies against whites and blacks, including rape, robbery and murder, the authorities said.

Suspect Is Quoted: 'I Know'  

At one point, they said, a detective asked if there was anything else Mr. Perry wanted to say, and that Mr. Perry replied, ''I know what you're talking about,'' and confessed what he called ''the big one,'' the Osborne slayings.  

Over the next two days he made long statements that were videotaped, reiterating these confessions under oath and providing considerable detailed information on the crimes, the police said. He was said to have mentioned gently prying open the Osbornes' door, leaving marks in the wood that investigators found only after his confession.  

Mr. Perry also directed officials to a screwdriver he used, and it matched the marks. He also passed a polygraph, or lie-detector, test on his involvement in the Osborne killings, and wallets and credit cards belonging to the victims were found in his home.  

On Tuesday Mr. Perry was found hanging close to the floor between an upper bunk and the bars on a low window. Strips of a canvas-like mattress covering were around his neck and ankles. Around the body there were no signs of violence, the authorities said. Several messages to relatives denying any murders were on the bed, the wall and floor, they said.  

Many blacks in Fort Wayne, including the victim's mother, Charlene Corey, are suspicious about Mr. Perry's death. The Rev. James Fincher, who visited Mr. Perry in jail four days before his death, said the young man feared for his life and said his confession had been forced.

Doubt Expressed on Suicide  

''There has been a murder committed in jail,'' Mr. Fincher said in an interview. ''I believe the police can't solve the Osborne killings so they picked a man already in community trouble and forced him to confess.''  

He said he could not believe that Mr. Perry had killed himself. ''It is all but impossible for him to have done this to himself,'' Mr. Fincher said, ''Black people do not commit suicide much and when they do, it is not slow. They shoot or cut themselves.''  

The Rev. James W. Bledsoe, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a group of 31 black members of the clergy, led a meeting Tuesday to protest the death. He said that he had ''mixed emotions'' over it and that such automatic suspicions sprang from a history of poor racial relations nationally and in Fort Wayne, where about 30,000 blacks live.  

''Fort Wayne is an ultraconservative city,'' he said in an interview, ''and, you know, we blacks come from a background of where lynchings have followed us down through the centuries.''  

After a meeting Thursday night with Patricia A. Glenn, a conciliator from the Justice Department's Community Relations Service in Chicago, the alliance agreed to suspend further action until an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation is completed.

In a statement read to reporters at the altar of St. John's Baptist Church, Mr. Bledsoe's parish, the ministers said they reserved the right to pursue legal remedies later through the Justice Department's civil rights division. They indicated they would not be satisfied with any investigation that did not find a violation of Mr. Perry's civil rights.  

They rejected an invitation to meet with the Allen County Prosecutor, Stephen Sims, to review the evidence and the videotaped confessions. ''There is nothing to be gained from such a meeting,'' said to J. B. Pressey, president of the area's branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  

Mrs. Glenn said she hoped, through a series of sessions with city and community leaders, to end ''rhetorical dialogues'' in the news media by both sides and reopen lines of substantive talk. She met today with city officials and one subject she discussed with them was a lack of blacks in higher municipal and county posts.  

Coroner Roland Ahlbrand and Sheriff Daniel L. Figel have officially ruled the death a suicide, and the Osborne- Perry cases are closed. Mr. Perry's two public defenders, Charles Leonard and Barrie Tremper, said at a news conference today that they had seen all the videotapes and police logs, attended the police lineups and interviewed detectives and technicians.  

The lawyers said that while they might later have filed an appeal based on certain procedures when witnesses viewed Mr. Perry and others in a lineup, at no time had Mr. Perry's rights been violated. They said that they found no evidence of coercion; that the tapes showed Mr. Perry acknowledging six readings of his constitutional rights in the first three hours of interrogation alone, and that he refused legal counsel until the confessions were made.  

They also said his demeanor on the videotapes was clear, forthright and there was little actual questioning. ''There was almost a camaraderie,'' Mr. Leonard said, ''with police saying 'Mr. Perry, tell us your story,' and Mr. Perry going on at great length.'' The lawyers said that while they had no opinion on Mr. Perry's guilt in the various crimes to which he confessed, they noted his detailed knowledge of the victims, their homes and their activities. Mr. Leonard said Mr. Perry accurately recounted the contents of a victim's refrigerator and the interior decoration of rooms; he also described the crimes against the Osbornes in graphic detail as well as the design of their house. Mr. Leonard said he stopped counting after Mr. Perry correctly described more than 50 details about the Osborne house.  

The lawyers also said that, to protect client confidentiality, they would never divulge anything Mr. Perry had told them. Representatives of the minister's alliance said that was part of a cover-up.

 
 

Calvin Perry, accused of murdering IN newspaper man and family, reported hanging self in jail cell

Tuesday, Jan 17, 1984

(Fort Wayne, IN) Beating deaths of Daniel, Jane and Benjamin Osborne and survival of their daughter Caroline, beaten and raped, last September recalled; films shown.

Perry's recent arrest and his alleged confession noted; apparent circumstances of his suicide discussed. [Coroner Dr. Roland AHLBRAND - is confident Perry's death was suicide.]

Area ministers noted claiming Perry's confession was extracted under duress. [Reverend Hugh GUY, Reverend James FINCHER - claim Perry was murdered rather than suicide victim.] [Mayor Winfield MOSES, Junior - explains his call for grand jury investigation into Perry's death.] Perry's suicide note quoted.

 
 

SEX: M RACE: B TYPE: T MOTIVE: Sex./Sad.

MO: Rapist home invader; bludgeoned victims 11-78.

DISPOSITION: Confessed prior to jailhouse suicide, January 1984.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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