Ardmore police reopen 1987 cold case murder

Published: Jul. 31, 2019 at 7:42 PM CDT
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Debra Jean McClendon of Ardmore was shot in the head with a large caliber hand gun on September 8, 1987.

Police have never been able to make an arrest.

Her father and husband found the 27-year-old slumped over in her Chevy pickup behind the Mountain View Mall in Ardmore, after she had not been heard from for several hours.

Matt Miller, an Ardmore police detective, is now working through a large amount of reports from the last 30 years, hoping to bring closure to McClendon's family.

"It's a lot to pour over," Miller said. "It's a lot to go through, to try to see what's relevant and what's not. Also, what's true and what's not."

Miller said the biggest hurdle is finding people who still remember what happened and are willing to speak about it.

"But the problem with that is, whenever you hold on to information like that for over 30 years, it can kind of eat away at you," Miller said.

Attorney Ron Worthen helped APD with the case when it first happened.

He was district attorney from 1973 to 1986, stepping down a year before McClendon was killed.

Since he had worked with APD for the last 13 years, officers requested his help in the investigation.

"And they let me look at all the photographs they had taken of the scene and what information they had," Worthen said.

Worthen knew McClendon's father and said Debra was a sweet girl.

"There's a DNA within the police departments that when you have unsolved crimes, you keep looking," Worthen said. "When one guy retires, somebody takes over. Sooner or later, they're going to work it. They're going to find out. It never goes away and I'm glad to see they operate that way today."

Miller said anyone with even the smallest bit of information should call police at 580-223-1212.

"Because you don't know how important something may be until we can get a hold of it, analyze it and put it up against the case file from back then," Miller said.

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