California inmate charged in 1980 double slaying

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - A man imprisoned in California has confessed to the shooting deaths of two women nearly 34 years ago, Terre Haute police said Tuesday.

Harry L. Rowley, 61, was arrested on a warrant in January charging him with two counts of murder in the slayings of Lucinda Farmer, 29, and Mary Quillen, 28, police said. WTHI-TV and the Tribune-Star report their bodies, each with a single gunshot wound to the head, were found in an alley on July 4, 1980.

Investigators reopened the case four years ago and traveled last October to California State Prison-Los Angeles County, where Rowley is serving a life sentence for a separate slaying.

Documents indicate Rowley and his wife resided in the same apartment complex where Farmer and Quillen were roommates. He told investigators that when he saw the women leaning on his car parked behind his apartment, he went into the apartment to retrieve a gun and shot each of them once.

Rowley stated he then went back inside the apartment to lie down next to his wife, court documents said. A couple hours later, he moved his car so his wife would not see the bodies, and he and his wife left for Indianapolis, about 70 miles east of Terre Haute, because he knew the police would be looking for him.

A few days later, Rowley and his wife returned to their apartment, packed up and left Indiana, documents said.

Rowley told investigators he was sorry for killing the women and that he wanted to apologize to their families.

Farmer's sister, Louise Watkins, attended the police news conference, where she praised the efforts of lead investigator Lt. Edward Tompkins and others. She called Tompkins each week after she learned he had reopened the cold case.

"I thought people forgot," Watkins said.

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