Crackdown on Crime - Pieces missing in Willis Matthews murder

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - By all accounts 80 year old Willis Matthews had no enemies. But the father of ten was found brutally stabbed to death back in 2002 inside his home off Progressive Street. Investigators say their was no sign of forced entry.

"And that says one of two things, either the person who was involved in this had a key which is generally a family member or is somebody that Mr. Matthews felt comfortable with opening the door and letting this person in," said Lake Charles Police Sgt. Mark Kraus.

Sgt. Kraus was then the lead investigator on the case and recalls the body appeared to have been there for several days before being discovered. "What I remember particularly about this case is that we shut the house down for about a day and a half because we brought in some representatives with the sheriff's office. We conducted some forensics from that standpoint of the investigation with chemicals involved in the house where it had to be night time," explained Kraus.

Based on evidence the motive appeared to be robbery. Police say several items were missing from the home, including Matthews' red Ford Thunderbird. Working with the FBI the trail would eventually lead investigators to Dallas, Texas.

"FBI investigators located the vehicle and video taped a suspect getting in that vehicle. That person was immediately arrested and transported back to Lake Charles," said Kraus.

Not only was this someone Mr. Matthews knew very well, but the suspect had several missing items in question on him. While it appeared police had an open and shut case -- prosecutors weren't so sure - saying pieces of the puzzle were still missing. To this day the case remains unsolved.

"What generally helps in this case or in cases like this is somebody that's involved or somebody that is very close to the nucleus of this investigation says something that we don't know," said Kraus.

While they'll continue to seek a conviction in the Willis Matthews murder, one thing they'll perhaps never really know... Is why.

If you can help Lake Charles Police solve this case, call 491-1311 or Crimestoppers at 439-2222. Tips can be made anonymously.