On February 12, 1990, a gunshot was fired in the middle of the day, killing Kathy Middleton in her home in Blue Springs, Missouri, prompting a murder mystery which has now lasted three decades. Her husband, Ken Middleton, remains in prison, serving a life sentence for her murder.
When the police arrived at the couple’s home, Ken told them that he had brought the gun inside from his truck with the intention of cleaning it. He says his wife picked up the gun and then went to make a phone call.
Ken then says: “And then I got up to go to the kitchen to get a drink of water and I blacked out. And I can’t even remember the gun going off.”
When he came to, he claims she was lying dead in the living room.
Police didn’t believe this version of events; they accused Ken of pinning Kathy to the wall and shooting her at point-blank range. A jury took the side of the police, and Ken was sentenced to life plus 200 years.
Middleton’s niece, Michelle Jordan, who was living with them at the time of the killing, believes her uncle is innocent. She argues that the original case was botched. She says: “You want someone to blame and he was the only one there. He was an easy target.”
A miscarriage of justice?
Jordan isn’t the only person to believe a miscarriage of justice occurred, forensic investigator Robert Tressell has argued that the trajectory of the bullet implies Ken’s innocence.
Tressell argues that one of two things must have happened: either the gun hit the dining room table and went off, or Kathy held the weapon in such a way as to pull the trigger accidentally. He also points to there being no blood splatter or gunpowder residue on Ken himself, something that would be impossible in a close-range shooting.
Other private investigators have commented on the shoddy work done by the Blue Springs police department. The case was their first homicide in nine years, and it’s alleged that they were unprepared to deal with the situation.
In 2004 Ken was offered a plea deal, which would have seen him released. Ken turned it down, preferring to maintain his innocence.
An investigation led by TV Station KCTV5 News in 2019 led to Ken perhaps damaging his chances of appeal when he confessed to arguing with Kathy on the day she died after she discovered he was having an affair with a local woman. He continues to maintain his innocence.
Ken’s family continue to fight for his freedom, and in February 2020, an application was sent to Missouri Governor Mike Parsons asking for clemency to be granted.
More from Reasonable Doubt
Follow the links to read about more crimes from the TV show that focuses on cases where it remains unclear who the real perpetrator might be. In 1996, pensioner Geraldine Pucillo was murdered in her shower; police zeroed in on Kim Cain accusing him of the crime. He was sentenced to life in prison, but Reasonable Doubt has questioned the veracity of his conviction.
In November 2011, Andrea Eilber was shot in the head while minding her aunt’s home. Her ex-boyfriend Kenneth Grondin was subsequently found guilty of the murder and sent to prison. However, in 2019 the state appeals court overturned his conviction.
Reasonable Doubt airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.