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Callaway County man charged with murder in 2002 cold case


A grand jury has indicted a man in the investigation into the murder of Debra Dickens back in 2002.

The Callaway County Sheriff's Office said in a release that her husband, Harold Dickens has been charged for the murder of his wife back on April 28, 2002.

Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Miller recently presented the cold case to a grand jury. The Sheriff's Office said after two days of hearing evidence and deliberation, the indictment was handed down on Wednesday.

"In this particular case, we had been talking about it for some time," Miller said. "We made the decision this was the day and made sure to schedule a couple extra days just for this case."

Harold Dickens is charged with murder in the first degree for "the brutal killing of his wife," according to the release.

Online records show he was booked into the Callaway County Jail at 5:08 p.m. on Wednesday and is being held on no bond. He will have an initial appearance Friday at 8:30 a.m.

Miller said Harold Dickens will then have a bond hearing set for next week, decide whether or not to hire an attorney, and then the case will get set for trial. He said it's been surreal being able to tell the family there are updates in the case.

"In this case in particular, it has been a joy getting to work with the family on this case, speak with them and kind of work the case with them," Miller said.

Court documents show Debra Dickens had filed for divorce from Harold Dickens in March, one month before she was killed. Court documents state Harold Dickens killed Debra Dickens by stabbing her.

ABC 17 News covered the murder back in 2002, and spoke to the former Callaway County Sheriff Dennis Crane.

"They had been unable to make contact with her, got concerned, a family member went out there and was unable to get anybody to answer the door," Crane said in 2002. "Upon entering the residence, they did discover the body of Ms. Dickens."

This is the second Callaway County cold case to have a breakthrough in recent months. Miller said he has made it a priority to look into cold cases since he took office at the beginning of 2023.

"My old boss, who's now a judge, says it best. He says, 'Criminal cases are like beer, not wine. They don't get better with age,'" Miller said. "So, it gets to a point where you have to look at these and make a decision: Is it going to get better or is it going to worse?"

He said changes on the forensic and digital side have made it easier to evaluate cold cases, as biological testing has increased and social media now allows people to communicate more. He said investigators will often reopen cold cases to try to get families justice.

He said his office is currently looking at other cold cases as well that they are trying to move forward.

This is a developing story

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Madison Stuerman

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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