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Crime Stoppers: Grandmother stabbed nine times in Safety Harbor

8:26 PM, Oct 15, 2010   |    comments
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Clearwater, Florida - Gertrude Trohn had just put her navy blue nightgown on and was ready for bed.

The Safety Harbor grandmother had her 15-year-old granddaughter, Laurel Godfrey, over that night and the two of them were supposed to be going to sleep.

In fact, crime photos show rumpled sheets and a comforter pulled back.

At least, that's how it started out.

"You think you'd be secure in your own residence. When you have your own 15-year-old granddaughter with you that there wouldn't be any problems," said Detective Mike Bailey with the the Pinellas County Sheriff's Offiice cold case unit.

It was July 6, 1979 just after midnight.

Gertrude would eventually be found lying on her shag carpet in a pool of blood with nine stab wounds to her chest and head.

She was in a back room.

Detective Bailey said, "There was no other place to go. There was a front door and a back door and this was a back bedroom, so that's what happened."

Laurel, however, suffered only a punch to the face, or so she claimed, while her grandmother was viciously murdered and left to die.

"I think she was chased in there, because that room was deeper into the condo than the bedroom they were staying in," Detective Bailey told us.

It was strange, Detective Bailey notes, that nothing was missing from Gertrude's purse, and there was no forced entry into the Safety Harbor condo where she lived.

Someone knew what they were doing.

Detective Bailey said, "These are all adjoining, there's one next door, one next door to that, that type of thing."

So what was the motive for murder?

It turns out Gertrude had a one of a kind two-carat European cut ring worth $10,000.

Detectives believe that the granddaughter may have been in on the murder the entire time.  She refused to take a polygraph, and the ring was never found.

Detectives believe that after the killer got the ring, he wanted the cash.  So, he went to a Clearwater jeweler to try and sell it for $10,000, although the ring was never found, and the jeweler could not confirm that anyone tried to sell it.

"Rarely do you ever see someone come in to do a burglary where they take only one piece of jewelry and then basically do a murder for one piece of jewelry," said Detective Bailey.

Detectives believe the granddaughter may have let her stepfather, Talmagde Eugene Hicks, inside that night.  According to police, the two were known drug users and could have been seeking the money.

Laurel Godfrey died from a drug overdose years after the crime, while Talmadge Hicks is somewhere in Kentucky.  He has been in and out of prison, according to deputies.

If you know what happened to Gertrude Trohn, please call Crime Stoppers of Pinellas County at 1-800-873-TIPS. 

Melanie Brooks, 10 News

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