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Seeking the Devil Within the Details: The Pauline Storment Murder!

"A myth or legend is simply not made up out of a vacuum. Nothing is--or can be. Somehow there is a kernel of truth behind it, however distorted that might be." -ISAAC ASIMOV


    A little over half a century ago my cousin, Pauline Storment, had her life stolen from her at 9::45 on a warm April Monday night, the 12th, of 1971, to be exact, and for the better part of my life I can recall knowing very little about the case and what I did know was that she was a University of Arkansas student and who was murdered while walking home from the college and that the guilty person was a student and that one or both of his parents were university officials a professor or dean and that guilty person was protected from prosecution and quietly sent out of state to evade that cops.

    So, how does an Isaac Asimov quote fit into this case, it's simple the truth of what happened to here and the facts of the case are indeed within the details where the devil will be found.

So, how exactly am I Pauline Storment's cousin? The short answer is that she is my twice-removed first cousin but that doesn't really explain anything. To explain the connection to Pauline that journey begins with my maternal grandfather, AJ "Buddy" Stacks, Pauline's first cousin. Papa Buddy, as my brother and I called him was the child of Andrew Jackson Stacks and Lela Storment, a sister to Paul Monroe Storment. Paul was married to Lillian Francis Elam and they had one daughter together and her name was Pauline Francis Storment.

    Flash forward to 2022, and we find that for the better part of half a century Pauline Storment's killer has never been caught and likely never will be. That's a depressing note for me because I want so badly to see her killer found even if the killers age makes it pointless to incarcerate them assuming the killer is even alive. So, how did a murder that rocked Fayetteville, Arkansas, a town with a population of 30, 729 as of the 1970 census never apprehend a murderer? 

I could be snarky and say the reason Fayetteville Police have never caught Pauline's killer is because of the curse of the 1900 slab of stone along the senior walk on the University of Arkansas' campus which is said to curse anyone who walks on in because the entire class of 1900 died via grisly deaths before graduating and maybe Pauline walked on it or maybe her killer is the spirit of a former student from 1948 by the name of Henry Booker Tennison who drank mercury cyanide poison and left a suicide note where he confessed to being the Phantom Killer from the Moonlight Murders of Texarkana which spawned the film the Town That Dreaded Sundown. Yet, surly things that go bump in the night like ghost and goblins don't actually kill people within the living world.

So, once we toss out the otherworldly possibilities befitting a ghost buster we are still suck with seeking an answer within the tangible world. A world where an unsolved stabbing death of Pauline Storment has few similarities to other notorious serial killers of the 1970's. The first one that comes to mind is Edmund Kemper, the Coed Killer, but he wasn't active in Arkansas that we know of, then there is Ted Bundy who was known to have traveled through Arkansas. Then there is always the Zodiac Killer who we know to have been active from December 1968 to October 1969 and it is plausible that may have killed outside of those time frames and outside of the state of California. 

One has to admit the similarity between the Sketch of Pauline's killer and that of the Zodiac Sketch.

    However, within Pauline Storment's own life exist a few suspects as well. The first suspect and main suspect from 1971, was the now late Wallace Peter Kunkel who hung out at 301 University Ave aka the Gray House which was an Apartment House that sat across the street from the Evergreen Cemetery and within minutes of Dickson Street, the University of Arkansas and the intersection of Duncan Avenue and Treadwell Streets where Pauline Storment would collapse to the ground from seven to eight stab wounds around 9:45 at night on April 12th. 


   If I were to travel back to the 1990's the story about the murder would be that Wallace Peter Kunkel was the child of a university official and armed with the information I now have I would travel back to March 1971 to meet with Kunkel's mother Luella (Huntington) Kunkel, was likely the Director of the nursing program at the University of Arkansas, and risk ripping a hole in the space time continuum, so that I could and tell her what her about the legal issues that were about to fall onto her son if she doesn't act now to insure he isn't at the Gray House that night. Yet, maybe she was aware because on the night of the murder within not only his testimony to the prosecution which was corroborated by Michelle Phelan when she stated Peter, Richard and herself left the Gray House and went over to the Jet Set Ice Cream Parlor at 9:20PM to get a something to drink & cigarettes and to go to the laundry so Pete could call his mother. Did he tell her what he thought he did that night? Is that why on November 19, 1972 at the age of forty-night she was visited by the angel of death. Yet, maybe  that wasn't the conversation, maybe instead it was a typical teenage conversation giving an excuse not to be home. We honestly, don't know and likely will never know.

    Yet, what if his parents were protecting the Kunkel boy, one can hardly blame a parent for reacting in such a way. Honestly, after factoring in that not only was his mother was a university official his father was a Government employed SEFOR Physicist and when you are Paul & Lillian Storment who come from modest means and barely hold an education in comparison to the Kunkel's one can come to the conclusion that paying for the legal services of Richard Hipp could be seen as protection the the guilty. Yet, the media didn't make things easier for the Storment's with such headlines as YOUTH CHARGED IN COED's DEATH and BUTCHER KNIFE FOUND AT SCENE and might I add syndicated to out of state publications, than yes one could walk away thinking a killer was being protected especially once someone read the headlines MURDER CHARGE DROPPED and KUNKEL FREED FROM CHARGE AFTER LIE DETECTOR TESTS. 

This type of roller coaster ride will make anyone uneasy but I can only imagine what it was like for her parents and step-siblings.

You see, the who killed Pauline Storment question, if it wasn't the Kunkel, is the million dollar question which still has no answer.

Stay Tuned....


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