FARMINGTON - A young mother was found dead in an alley almost a block away from her home on April 25, 1971. A man was arrested and questioned, and later released, but her family is searching for answers.
Jacque Bray was 24 when she was killed. Her body was discovered the next day by neighborhood children who were playing in the area. Autopsy results released by Coroner Ted Boyer said Bray died as a result of internal injuries. The autopsy was performed by a pathologist at St. Louis Clinical Laboratories. Although marks on her body indicate she may have been run over by a car, it has not yet been determined how she received the internal injuries.
Sheriff Ken Buckley placed a neighbor under arrest and he was detained in jail for investigation.
Bray’s neighbors reported hearing an all night party at the address on Alexander Street and around 3 a.m. Sunday the street had been filled with cars.
Bray was discovered near the end of Glenwood Street in the alley, which was almost a block away from her home, where the party is believed to have occurred.
The sheriff and coroner were assisted by Farmington Police, other members of Buckley’s department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Sgt. Robert H. Mudd and Cpl. Wheeler of the patrol’s crime laboratory arrived late in the day to help in the investigation.
The home where the party was held was sealed and the car belonging to Long was impounded pending examination.
Sheriff Buckley and Sgt. Herman H. Barr worked as a team with deputies and troopers rounding up the people who had attended the all night party and taking them to the courthouse for questioning by the prosecuting attorney.
The man picked up for questioning was released on April 26, 1971 after being held the full 20 hours permissible for investigation without having to file charges against him.
The man, Danny Long, lived with Bray at the time of her disappearance. He was rearrested on May 5, 1971 and arraigned on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Sheriff Buckley took Long into custody in Desloge on a warrant issued the previous day at 4 p.m. when Prosecuting Attorney Stanley J. Murphy filed the charge of involuntary manslaughter. Long was arraigned shortly before 11 a.m. on May 5.
After reading the charge and informing the defendant of his rights, Judge Francis W. Rentfro continued the case until May 7 and fixed the bond at $2,500. Bond was not posted and the defendant was taken to the county jail.
Murphy said at the time he filed the charge a polygraph test performed on April 30 indicated a charge of involuntary manslaughter should be filed instead of a more serious charge. Murphy said the lie detector test indicated the defendant had no intentions of killing Bray.
Murphy said Long cooperated with the investigating officers and he remained available through his attorney and voluntarily took a polygraph test which was given at Poplar Bluff and was accompanied by his attorney.
Don Weitzel, Bray’s brother said the case against Long was not solid and the case never went anywhere.
“We never thought he did it. Jacque was a single mother and was divorced. She reconnected with Long when he returned from the Navy,” said Weitzel.
Weitzel said all there is left of the case now is what her family has.
“All of her personal effects disappeared, along with names of witnesses at the party, lawyers, evidence and everything from the case. We have tried to keep track of letters sent to us, newspaper clippings and notes over the years and done our own digging in the case but that’s all we have left of the case is our own stuff,” said Weitzel.
“Someone knows something. We just want answers about what happened that night. We have received letters and calls from people over the years who were there who want to help. We just want to put together a timeline and help answer questions,” said Weitzel.
Long went missing in early July 1974 and was found near the intersection of W and N highways in southwestern St. Francois County, according to authorities.
He was the apparent victim of an accident. He was found near the motorcycle he had been riding and was identified by a member of his family based on the clothing he was wearing.
Long’s body was badly decomposed when found.
If you have any information on the Jacque Bray case please call her family at (573) 431-4147.