Detectives Jeff Schare and Kurt Ballman happened to be on duty in February 2005 when a small, fragile-looking woman with a disturbing story came into the homicide squad offices downtown.
"If God had a hand in it, if there was divine intervention, this was it," says Ballman
"The first box we looked in was marked 'miscellaneous homicides.' The first file we pulled read 'Patrolman Donald Martin Homicide.'"
Reviewing the details, it was quickly apparent that the aging woman's confessional was not about the Martin case, and they could find no record of similar unsolved crimes in the area in the early 1960s.
It appeared that the husband's drunken tale was just that-a fabrication.
But for detectives Schare and Ballman, it was the beginning of a new investigation-one they were going to own.
"When we were going through the evidence," recalls Ballman
, "I pulled out Don's uniform and police hat and realized it's the same kind we wear today.
I got teary-eyed.
I knew we had to give it a shot."
Schare and Ballman
have a lot in common.
"One of the things about being a homicide detective [is] you always want to go to the scene," Ballman says.
and Schare had the Martin case file, but the file Schimpf and Stagenhorst had kept on Walls was missing.
Ironically, that's exactly what Schare and Ballman
think happened when Stagenhorst died-the file was probably discarded, and with it, the history of Walls as a suspect.
The job for Schare and Ballman
, then, was to find all the bits that "fell through the cracks" and piece together the puzzle.
Schare and Ballman identified and tracked down anyone they could associate with the case-family members, friends, and any police officers and witnesses who might know anything.
Dove told Schare and Ballman
of an encounter where Walls grabbed her, pulled her down an alley, held a handgun to her head and said, "I'll fucking kill you just like I killed that cop!"
William Walls, Walter's brother, told Ballman
and Schare that Walter said he was trying to break into a car on a dealership lot to steal a battery when he was confronted by a police officer.
In the end, Ballman
and Schare determined that Walls and two accomplices-his brother, Jesse James Walls, and Charles "Cadillac Charlie" Jillson-were responsible for the murder of Donald Martin during the early morning hours of March 11, 1961.
Schare and Ballman
are still on the force and have received much-deserved recognition for closing the Martin case.
and Jeff Schare take pride in solving the 44-year-old murder of a brother officer.