Barbara Jean Horn was just four years old when she was sexually assaulted and murdered on July 12, 1988, in Philadelphia. She was playing outside her home when she disappeared and her body was later found, naked and beaten, in a plastic bag in a cardboard television box left out in the trash, court documents show.
A review of the case showed that despite her head injuries, Horn likely died from asphyxiation, court documents revealed. Five different eyewitnesses told authorities they saw a man carrying the television box down the street on July 12. Horn’s stepfather said she was last seen at around 3:00 p.m. that day at their home and her body was found at 5:30 p.m. by a neighbor just a thousand feet away from the residence.
One of Horn’s neighbors, Walter Ogrod, was convicted of her murder and received the death penalty. He served 28 years in prison before a review of the case determined that Ogrod, who is autistic, had been coerced into confessing to authorities. Additional DNA testing also concluded that Ogrod was innocent and he was released in June 2020.
Following Ogrod’s release, what is the latest in Barbara Jean Horn’s murder investigation? Has it been solved today?
The Philadelphia Police Department Said It Is Too Busy to Reopen the Investigation
After Ogrod’s conviction was vacated and he was released in June 2020, the question raised by everyone was, who really killed Horn? Unfortunately for Horn’s family, the Philadelphia police department has so far said it’s too busy to reopen the investigation. Patricia Cummings, head of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, said, “As of today, I don’t think that appetite exists,” NBC Philadelphia wrote.
During an investigation into Ogrod’s conviction, authorities identified two possible suspects for Horn’s murder, Cummings told NBC Philadelphia. One of the two is now dead, the outlet reported, while the other is in prison for another crime but neither has been publicly identified.
Despite that, Philadelphia police have declined to reopen the investigation due to the department’s focus on current homicides. Detectives typically focusing on investigating cold cases have been busy working on current homicides following an increase in gun violence in the city, NBC reported.
Horn’s Mother, Who Was Vocal In Supporting Ogrod’s Release, Is Pleading With Authorities to Investigate Horn’s Murder
Horn’s mother Sharon Fahy told NBC Philadelphia that she believed Ogrod was responsible for her daughter’s murder until she found out the details of an investigation into his conviction. “That’s when it really started sinking in, that he definitely didn’t do it and he needs to get out of jail,” she told the outlet. “I went to court and I signed a paper saying that I didn’t believe he did it and that he should be let out of jail.”
Fahy told NBC that her family is raising money to hire a private investigator: “I think it’s crazy that they wouldn’t want to try to solve this or help out,” she said.
Ogrod is also passionate about finding Horn’s real killer and said, “I want to know who did this. I mean, we have to close this.” He told NBC the person needs to be identified and caught because they could be committing more crimes the longer they remain free.