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6-Year-Old Proves Key in Pregnant Mom's 1988 Murder

He reportedly kept quiet on threat of death from his mother's ex-boyfriend, but no more
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2019 8:11 AM CDT
George Kearney   (St. Joseph County Jail)

(Newser) – George Kearney's secret was kept for 30 years. Less than a year after his arrest, an admission to murder will put it all on the table. Kearney, charged in the 1988 murder of a pregnant mother in Indiana, pleaded guilty Monday without having made a plea deal. That means the 76-year-old will face up to 60 years in the killing of Miriam Rice, per the AP. The 28-year-old mom, four months pregnant when her body was found with multiple skull fractures, had been walking her dog in a South Bend park on June 24, 1988. Camping at the park was Kearney, ex-girlfriend Barbara Brewster, and Brewster's three children, aged 7, 6, and 2. Years later, after Kearney had served 27 years in prison for another crime he was convicted of, the elder two children started talking. In fact, Kearney cited pressure from Brewster's eldest daughter when he chose to speak to investigators in 2016, reports ABC57.

That gave police access to Paula Brooks, now 37, who said that as a 7-year-old, she'd heard a "blood-curdling scream" from a woman "pleading for her life" a few hours after Kearney, Brewster, and her 6-year-old brother, Robert South, left the family's campsite to get food. She said all three returned covered in blood. South, meanwhile, told police Kearney had dragged Rice into their van before his mother beat her in the head with various tools, according to an affidavit. "He stated that he has never told anyone what happened because George Kearney threatened to kill him if he did," it adds, giving no clue as to motive. In Kearney's March 2016 telling, Brewster had run after a woman, returning with blood on her hands. In poor health, he'll be sentenced March 29. Brewster, 56, is also charged with murder but puts the onus on Kearney. Her trial is to begin Monday, per WNDU. (Read more murder stories.)

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