When you think of Westside Park in Muncie, you can imagine one major event that occurred in the past. While some may remember the amusement park that existed there before, or the training jet that was parked in the flying field for several years, most will think of the Westside Murders. The story of the Westside Park’s murders dates to September 1985, when two Muncie teens were shot and killed in their car while parked in one of the lanes at the park. The situation gained instant infamy because the children were Northside residents and had no apparent connections to any crimes. The victims were a Junior and Senior at the Muncie Northside High School, named Ethan Dixon and Kimberly Dowell. They were discovered by an officer who was clearing out the park after closing. The car they were found in was still running, with one window down, and the other shattered from a gunshot. This crime scene was considered very strange as the purpose of the killings was not readily apparent.
In the book, The Westside Park Murders: Muncie’s Most Notorious Cold Case by Keith Roysdon and Douglas Walker, the authors recount the events leading up to the fated event, as well as the following investigation and theories surrounding the case. The case has had a whole slew of suspects, ranging from nation-wide serial killers, Kimberly’s own stepfather, to even a man who bragged of killing the kids in the same night. The murder was theorized by many and ranged as far as a random killing, a drug related exchange gone wrong, personal targeting, and even serial murder. The case itself did not have enough evidence to convict anyone, although there is one suspect who is primely assumed to have been involved. The case has had as many as a team of nineteen officers investigating the possible suspects at one time, to as few as only one officer who recently reinvestigated the case. One thing mentioned in the text was a criticism of the approach of the initial police investigation and the negligence that took place therein. The book also includes a large variety of quotes and interviews from people involved with the case itself, or the families of the victims. Overall, the case caused a large amount of damage to the Muncie community and irreversibly changed the attitudes of the innocence of Muncie. The case opened, and many suspects and leads were investigated, yet this murder still sits as a long-cold case to this day.
The book goes into great depths into the teens and the Muncie community in their time, although it very briefly discusses the park itself through a brief history and a notation of the lack of records involving the park in its early days. The usability of this text in the research into our park has led to a lack of major relevant information beyond the significant negative event that occurred in the park. As for community insight the text discusses the blatant corruption in the Muncie and the use of the term “Little Chicago” in reference to the corruption and politics that took place in the period surrounding time. The text is a good insight into the many issues of the Muncie community surrounding the times of the murders and it provides an insight into the history of an event that little is known about.