On October 25th, 1984, all the way out in Amarillo, Texas,
a 29-year-old man named Ricky Mock went into a convenience store
and held the cashiers and guests at gunpoint, demanding money.
When he got what he was looking for, he took off,
only to be pulled over a few hours later
by an Amarillo officer who noticed his Indiana plates.
Ricky assumed that they knew it was him who robbed the place,
so as soon as he stopped his car,
he hopped out and pointed his pistol at the patrol car,
prompting the officer to fatally shoot him.
Police searched his car and found not only the stolen money
from the convenience store holdup,
but tons of other stolen cash and other stolen stuff
from way out in Indiana.
So word quickly made its way from Texas to Indiana,
where Ricky was wanted for other armed robberies.
State police were sent to search his apartment in Logansport, Indiana,
for anything else that didn’t belong to him.
And they did find some items from local burglaries,
but what else they found was shocking.
There was some bloody clothes and a newspaper clipping
that didn’t have anything to do with any robbery
that they were investigating.
The clipping had to do with a murder.
They quickly figured out who was the lead detective on that case,
Sergeant Dave Yokelet.
Here’s a voice actor reading his report of that call.
He informed me of an individual who had been shot and killed
by police in Amarillo, Texas the day prior,
which would be the 25th of October, 1984.
He advised this individual was Ricky Mock.
Police were searching an apartment in Logansport, Indiana,
where this individual is from,
and had located a newspaper clipping
in regards to the homicide investigation
and also some clothes that had what appeared to be blood on them.
This is Episode 5.
He’s Gunned Down.
Sergeant Dave Yokelet drove the 35 or so miles
from his house in Marshall County to Logansport, Indiana,
and he met ISP detectives at Ricky Mock’s apartment on Helm Street.
They showed him a pair of brown shoes and white towels
that looked to have blood spots on them.
There was also a pair of pants in the apartment
with some stains that were similar,
but police couldn’t tell if they were blood or not.
Even more suspicious, police found some plastic
Playtex dishwashing gloves
that also looked to have blood stains on them.
The newspaper clipping that police found in Ricky’s apartment
was cut out from the Logansport newspaper
and was dated August 23rd.
It was an article that described a man
that was fleeing from police
who matched the suspect description from the Hulse homicide.
Now, prior to this, Ricky Mock was not a name
that had come up before in the Hulse investigation.
And sure, he was kind of known locally around town,
but not for anything even close to what happened to Darlene.
But blood on clothes?
You don’t get that from a robbery.
And having that clipping,
it screamed that there was a connection to be found.
All of the bloody items were sent off to the state crime lab
to see if they could tie Darlene’s death to Ricky.
At the same time, Sergeant Yokelet worked to find out
more about who Ricky Mock was.
When he checked out his criminal history,
it seemed to be mostly robberies and burglaries
all around northern Indiana.
This guy seemed to be financially motivated
and mostly pulled off quick cash grabs.
There was nothing in any of the reports
about him hurting anyone in the process.
Now, physically, Ricky fit the description.
Blonde, skinny, clean-shaven.
So Sergeant Yokelet got Ricky’s most recent mugshot
and went straight back to the Hulse family
to see if Marie and Melissa recognized him.
But they didn’t.
Again, that wasn’t enough for the police
to completely discount Ricky as a suspect,
so they kept investigating him
to see if they could place him in Argus on August 17th.
In doing so, they did find out
that some of his social circles overlap with Danny Bender’s,
which was interesting from an investigative standpoint,
but also not that surprising because Argus is so small.
The police went and interviewed a lot of those people.
But when they were talking to them,
as far as whether or not Ricky was capable of murder,
the vote was split.
Some said, oh, yeah, definitely,
if he had the right motivation,
and others said, no way.
Robbery is as far as he would go.
According to his apartment landline calls,
there was a phone call placed
from his apartment in Logansport
on August 17th at 10 a.m.,
which had to have been a rollercoaster of emotions
that happened in, like, a split second for investigators
because this is amazing.
Yes, he was in Indiana the day that Darlene was murdered,
but, oh, shit, there is no way he could have done it.
The timeline didn’t work.
Darlene was abducted in Argus around 9.30,
which means that he would have had to kill her,
taken her body to a different location,
and then been back to his apartment in Logansport
40 minutes away,
making a casual phone call by 10 a.m.
It just wasn’t working with the timeline as they knew it.
But investigators knew if they were off
on the timing of Darlene’s murder by even 15 minutes,
it would have been possible,
although still a big stretch.
And just in case you’re wondering,
police did track down the person that Ricky called that morning
just to verify that it had been him
on the phone from his apartment.
And they said, yeah, it was him,
and it was a totally normal, everyday phone call,
nothing damning about it.
They also tracked down a woman
whose name was on a pill bottle in Ricky’s apartment.
Now, police at first had assumed that these were stolen meds,
but the woman said that she had been sort of dating Ricky,
and in fact, she had dropped off the pills at his apartment
on the afternoon of the 17th,
and she said that Ricky was there at home
just kind of lounging around.
So it’s not like he really even left
after making this phone call.
Police were feeling pretty on the fence about Ricky,
at least that is until the crime lab results came back.
The ISP testing confirmed that it was in fact blood
on Ricky’s stuff,
and that blood appeared to be consistent
with Darlene’s blood type.
Now, blood testing,
especially at the state levels back then,
was super generic.
It basically could just tell you type O or type A, et cetera,
and they knew that if they were going to nail this guy,
especially with a tight timeline that they would be working with,
they would need something definitive.
So they asked the FBI to perform their own tests
since they had more advanced equipment.
They analyzed the same samples,
and their findings were that it was definitely
not Darlene’s blood on Ricky’s stuff.
Just to be extra sure he wasn’t connected to the crime scene,
police also arranged to get one of Ricky’s hairs
sent to Indiana from Texas
and had it tested against a few of the hairs
found at Darlene’s house,
the ones on her body and on baby Kristen’s foot.
And it turns out that none of those hairs matched Ricky’s.
Actually, all but one of the hairs turned out to be Darlene’s.
So the blood and the hairs weren’t a match.
But the list of crimes that Ricky had been accused of was long.
After the robbery in Texas,
Amarillo police sent notices to police departments
about Ricky’s death,
and they got like a dozen calls back from officers
saying that he was wanted for crimes in their areas,
mostly armed robberies throughout the Midwest.
Just to be extra thorough,
police continued doing interviews regarding Ricky.
They talked to this guy named Joe Krip,
who was apparently Ricky’s like BFF.
With Ricky dead,
police figured Joe was the next best person to talk to
because the two were super tight.
Joe said that his buddy Ricky, RIP,
couldn’t have abducted or killed anyone back in August
because he had actually wrecked his motorcycle in July
and was barely able to walk for like months after that.
He didn’t think Ricky would have been able to struggle with anyone
or move a body in the condition that he was in.
Joe also laughed off the fact
that Ricky had cut out that newspaper clipping
about a fugitive police were looking for
because the fugitive was Ricky.
Ricky thought it was hilarious that he’d been fleeing from police
and actually got away with it by hiding in a cornfield.
It wasn’t because he had anything to do with Darlene’s death.
The next question police asked Joe
was if Ricky had any access to green cars,
and in fact, he did.
Joe said that Ricky had bought a four-door early 70s green Maverick
off a girl they knew.
He couldn’t remember when Ricky drove the car, though,
so police followed up with that girl that he mentioned
and she said that Ricky had borrowed the green car back in September
and then bought it off her in early October before going to Texas.
She said that she couldn’t remember Ricky using the car before September.
But then police got a call from a guy named Mike Murphy
who said that Ricky had bought a green car off him over the summer.
Here’s a reenactment of Sergeant Yokelet’s interview with Mike.
The way we understand it, he bought a car from you.
Yeah, a 1974 two-door Ford Brougham, green.
That was a green one?
Is that supposed to be the same one that he wrecked later on
or a girl had wrecked?
A girl had wrecked it as far as I know.
There were other times that Ricky came to your house?
Kind of just basically tell me,
what would take place when he was over here
or what pretext he would come over on?
He would just come over to visit kids around,
just shoot the breeze, put it that way.
In talking with other people and in talking with you,
he was the type of individual that bragged a lot?
Did he ever brag to you or show off to you
as far as telling you that he was involved in any other crimes,
doing any crime?
No, not until after, you know.
Sam or Joe or one of them told me that he had been in Medaryville
or something in Medaryville when he was younger.
And then he told me what had been his priors,
but he told me that he had gone on the straight and narrow.
After that, the questioning switched to something about a gun
that Mike said Ricky stole from him.
And it’s a bit of a reach,
but you can tell Sergeant Yokelet has his reasoning for asking.
Basically, one of the guns that Ricky had in his car
when he died in Texas
was the one that Mike used to keep under his mattress.
That gun used to belong to Mike’s brother,
who was also murdered in Argus like 10 years prior,
but not far from the Hulse home.
In Sergeant Yokelet’s report of his interview with Mike,
he wrote, quote,
It is not known for certain if there’s any connection at this time
between the homicide of Darlene Hulse
to any of the other homicides that have taken place several years ago.
However, it appears to this officer to be very coincidental
that the weapon that was in the possession of a suspect
in the Darlene Hulse investigation
originally belonged to an individual that was killed on State Road 110,
that it was believed his death was also possibly a homicide.
I’m interested in the case in Argus where the woman got killed.
Is there anything you can explain to me
that you’ve heard from other people around or Ricky?
Well, to tell the truth, I didn’t think he did it.
And, you know, and then Bob come up one night and talked to me.
And I just asked him, I said,
do you think that he could have did it?
And Bob looked at me and says,
if the girl approached him, you know,
and spooked him and caught him off guard, you know,
yeah, he might have did it out of pure fright
and didn’t know what the heck to do with her.
When he was around here, the wife said he acted strange.
But, you know, anybody who walks into the house to her is going to act strange.
He was a very intelligent man, you know.
He just pulled stupid bullshit.
Finally, police interviewed Ricky’s wife, Christine.
The two had separated in early 1984,
but they had a two-year-old kid together.
Christine told police that for the first two weeks of August,
Ricky had their son with him in Logansport.
She said that on August 13th, he had returned him to her house,
and at that time, Ricky was still suffering from his injuries
that he had gotten in the motorcycle accident.
Christine said that Ricky could walk,
that it was really difficult for him.
She also said that Ricky had a bad temper,
but she didn’t come right out and say
that she thought he was capable of murdering someone.
After all their interviews, investigators had a few key takeaways.
They basically knew Ricky was a full-time robber,
and he liked to brag about his crimes.
He had bragged about being wanted by the Merrillville, Indiana, PD
to his wife and Joe before going to Texas.
So, if he had been wanted for murder,
wouldn’t he have at least told Joe?
Or mentioned that he’d gone too far and had to skip town?
If you’re making your living stealing cash from people,
being wanted for murder might lend some street cred to your reputation.
In November 1984, the Plymouth Bureau of the South Bend Tribune
published an article with the headline,
Not Likely, Dead Man Is Killer.
Sergeant Yochelet was quoted in that story basically saying
things weren’t adding up for Ricky Mock like they had hoped.
Most of it came back to that 10 a.m. phone call
that he had made from his apartment on August 17th.
But Ron Hulse, probably to try and comfort his daughters,
decided to cling to the Ricky Mock theory.
Here’s Kristen and Marie.
And Dad had always told us growing up that it was…
They had caught the guy, don’t worry about it.
Because we were scared.
That he was shot and killed in Texas robbing a bank.
And I’m like, that’s just so far-fetched.
When he talked to me about it, it was always just,
you’re safe, you’re okay, they’ve caught him.
Because when I was little, I was scared.
I was scared he was going to come back.
And I would have nightmares.
I imagine Ron was doing everything he could to try and comfort the girls.
And maybe at that time it was easier to believe that Ricky did it
because he was dead.
Maybe it comforted him in a way too.
But in fall 1984, if there had ever been any case to make
against Ricky Mock, it fizzled out faster than it came together.
Just as it had for Robert Zebrowski and Danny Bender.
For a moment, police considered pivoting
and going back to interrogating Danny even harder.
But a few days after his dear Thelma letter from jail,
police got a call from the Illinois State Police.
One of their troopers recalled stopping two hitchhikers on August 15th
just across the Illinois state line from Indiana.
It was Danny Bender and his friend Tim.
They were headed out west just like they told detectives here
and they didn’t have any active warrants.
Danny had even gotten permission from his parole officer to leave the state
so the Illinois State Trooper let them go.
Police knew that it would have been nearly impossible
for Danny to have found his way back to Arcus by the morning of the 17th.
So they knew they had to move on.
If you look at old news coverage in the weeks after Darlene’s murder,
it is all about Danny, Robert and Ricky.
You can sense how desperate police were to find the monster
who viciously took Darlene away from her family.
And it’s easy to see why police zeroed in on them.
They were all hard partying guys who were caught up
in various shady activities in and around Arcus.
People who had dealings with those men heard about something bad
that had happened and they were like, well it must have been one of them.
And it seemed as if police wanted it to be one of them.
They were drifters.
Anywhere they went, trouble followed.
That kind of random tragedy seems easier for the community to handle
because the subtle message is it’s not one of us.
It’s someone from the outside.
Someone who was always bad.
Someone who you could spot a mile away.
But it wasn’t so simple.
None of the men connected directly.
Only indirectly and through lots of other petty criminals.
And the circumstantial evidence that could have possibly tied
any of them to Darlene was shaky at best.
Two months into a murder investigation, in a small town,
that’s not the type of information detectives want to have to admit
when reporters call or when members of the community
stop them at the grocery store or the cafe to ask for updates
in finding the despicable man who killed the sweet stay-at-home mom.
So as investigators prepared to hit the reset button on their investigation,
they had to finally grapple with their worst fear.
That whoever killed Darlene was living among them.
And as police were coming to terms with that,
the Argus community was living in fear.
Something so horrible could happen to sweet, straight-laced Darlene Hulse.
Were any of them safe?
Especially in their homes.
As far as bad habits, the only one I ever got her on was the fact that
at night she never pulled the drapes or pulled the shade down.
She just thought that we lived out in a remote area.
Anybody that’s out there is going to be sick anyway.
And if I went into the bedroom first, was going to shower or something,
then I always pulled them down.
But she never did.
She never did.
And I just wonder now if there’s been someone looking all along or what.
That’s coming up in Episode 6,
Evil All Around.
You can listen to that right now.