Reports: Homicide suspect lived short, violent life

Tribune-Star/Austen LeakeNever gave up: After 47 years, Terre Haute Chief of Police Shawn Keen announced that the department had solved the 1972 murder of Pamela Milam during a press conference on Monday at Indiana State University.

Kidnapping and homicide suspect Jeffrey Lynn Hand’s life was short and violent, according to police and media accounts prior to his death in 1978.

By the age of 28, when he was shot to death after turning a gun on Kokomo and Howard County police responding to a report of an abduction at a shopping center, he’d already been involved in the September 1972 abduction and killing of 19-year-old Indiana State University student Pam Hilam in Terre Haute, according to police.

And in between those crimes, authorities say, Hand in June 1973 kidnapped a pair of hitchhikers in Terre Haute near U.S. 41 and Interstate 70 and had driven them to a rural Warrenton farm.

Hand was apparently living at the farm, alternately reported as being either in southern Gibson County or northern Vanderburgh County, although some newspaper accounts of the time also identify Hand as being from Princeton.

The 22-year-old Evansville woman got away after Hand forced her husband to leave — alone — with him.

While she escaped and was able to lead state police to the farm and later identify Hand, the woman’s 22-year-old husband was found dead in a wooded area in Posey County. He’d been shot in the head and stabbed several times.

Hand was charged with murder and held in Vanderburgh County, but he was tried in Monroe County after a change of venue. In October of 1973, a Monroe County jury cleared Hand of the murder charge, finding him innocent by reason of insanity. He was committed to a state mental hospital.

A 1975 attempt to bring kidnapping charges in the abduction of the Evansville couple was not successful, as a judge ruled such charges should have been incorporated into the original trial.

In June 1976, Hand was released from the state mental hospital and was reportedly living in Washington with a wife and child.

In early May 1978, Kokomo police and Howard County deputies responded to a report of an abduction at the Markland Mall.

Cut off by a deputy driving an unmarked squad car, Hand reportedly jumped from that woman’s car and ran down an alley, eventually pulling and firing a .32- caliber revolver, striking the deputy in the left hand and left side.

Kokomo officers then fired on Hand, striking him three times and killing him, according to press reports.

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