Lawrence Police Department leaders haven’t decided whether they’ll reopen the investigation into the unsolved 1977 burglary and beating of Robert Conlin, who died several days after the attack.
“We’re looking into it,” said Sgt. Matt Sarna, adding that police have been searching for old files and records in the case.
Conlin, who was 66 in May 1977, was at his Edgewood apartment on Haskell Avenue when a man in his 20s broke in, beat Conlin with a broom handle and stole a large color television and $2 in cash, according to media reports at the time.
Conlin, who for years had owned the Our Place Cafe in downtown Lawrence, died five days later at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. The autopsy report cited the assault as a contributing factor in Conlin’s death — the beating caused several broken ribs and contusions on his head and all over his body. But Conlin also had advanced emphysema and heart disease, and the autopsy didn’t narrow the cause of death to one factor.
Douglas County resident Katie Gillam, Conlin’s daughter, started advocating several months ago to reopen the case. Gillam said she’s met once with detectives, giving information during a detailed interview. Gillam said she’s been told the case was being reviewed but hasn’t received much information about any updates on the case.
At this point, Gillam said she’s stuck with a lot of unanswered questions.
“My father’s case is a travesty of justice,” she said. “Why was my father’s case pushed aside? Why is no one being held accountable for this?”
Following Conlin’s death, police said they had a suspect, but that person was never arrested or named.