Gladys Frost would have observed her 56th birthday on March 22.
Instead, what ought to have been a celebration of life was another in a long string of painful reminders of her gruesome death.
Gladys was one year behind me at Charleston High School. I graduated in 1982. She was a 1983 grad.
I did not know her. We probably passed each other in the hallway between classes.
In the fall of '82, as I was entering Northwest Mississippi Junior College to study journalism, she was returning for her senior year at CHS.
In December 1982, I began working part-time as a staff writer at this newspaper.
Just over six years later, in January 1989, I would be interviewing local law enforcement officers and the county coroner about the murder of Gladys Frost.
Miss Frost, of Charleston, was only 23 when she was brutally killed.
A student at a Memphis business school, she was home on Christmas break when she went missing Jan. 4, 1989.
Four days later, hunters found her car, its interior stained with blood, on a logging road about four miles north of the city.
After an intensive search of the area, the body of Miss Frost was discovered Jan. 9 about seven-tenths of a mile from the car’s location.
Miss Frost was beaten, strangled and stabbed multiple times. Her throat had been cut. There were burns around her chin and jaw that the coroner said were likely caused by a cigarette. An autopsy later estimated she had been dead four or five days.
Several suspects were investigated, but more than 32 years later, no one has been arrested.
I was inspired to write this column after receiving an email from a woman who said she worked on the Frost case as an intern with a state law enforcement agency long ago.
Though many years removed from that internship, she still remembers details of the case and, apparently, was deeply impacted by it. In her email late last week, she asked that we write something for the purpose of "keeping hope alive." She added, "I would love to see this solved for the family."
We have written about that case and, unfortunately, many other homicides over the years. Far too many of them still await justice.
Based on 2018 data, Miss Frost is one of eight modern-era Tallahatchie County murder victims whose crimes have yet to be solved. Unless they have died or been locked up for some other offense, the killers remain at large.
Other unsolved local murder cases include those of:
» Myrtle Hitch, 63, of Glendora, a stabbing victim in October 1981
» Lorenzo Anderson, 21, of Sumner, a gunshot victim in October 2000
» Tomico Haywood, 26, of Charleston, a gunshot victim in October 2004
» Ruby Aven, 83, and her son, William Aven, 42, both of Webb and both beating victims in the same case in September 2006
» Anthony Kelly, 29, of Charleston, a gunshot victim in August 2008
» Monroe Reed III, 29, of Charleston, a gunshot victim in July 2009
Officials representing multiple law enforcement agencies, crime labs and court districts have invested untold man-hours in an effort to bring some sense of closure to the families whose lives were forever altered by these cases.
The investigatory work conducted by these officials has taken them beyond county and, in some instances, state lines in a search for answers.
There have been and still are suspects in some of these murders, but officials have been unable to find sufficient evidence to arrest and prosecute anyone.
On repeated occasions, members of the public have been asked to assist by coming forward with any related bits and pieces of information they might have — no matter how insignificant they may seem. Reward funds have been established.
Time does not diminish these crimes or the terrible toll they have taken, and they are not lost to history. We must not allow them to be.
There is no statute of limitations for murder.
If someone knows anything about these or other unsolved cases — even if they have known and remained silent for decades out of fear for their safety or for any other reason — it is not too late to come forward.
It may be a tired cliche, but it still rings true, that it’s never too late to do the right thing.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation’s Cold Case Unit is available to pursue any cold cases — defined as a crime that has not been fully resolved and all leads have been exhausted — where any viable suspects have been or potentially could be identified and are still alive.
While local law enforcement remain the best point of contact for most people, the MBI Cold Case Unit is available should someone feel more comfortable speaking with a person not local. Their number is 601-987-1573.
We pray for justice.
Editor's note: This article has been revised from its original print version to correct age and birthdate information.