On January 19, 1991, Trudy Darby called her son around 10:00pm and told him that a suspicious man where outside her job. Her son arrived about 10 minutes. Trudy was gone but her car, coat, and handbag were still there; there was $220 missing from the register.
Trudy Darby was born on August 5, 1948, in Almeda, California. At some point, her family moved to Camden County, Missouri. Her family consisted of her parents, Betty Jean and Wilbert Blecher, and her siblings, Larry, Ronnie, and Patty.
Trudy married her husband on January 4, 1967; they had a son, Waylon Darby.
At 10:00pm on January 19, 1991, Trudy called her son and told her that there was a suspicious man outside and was asking if he would come help her close the store, but the phone called ended abruptly. Once Waylon arrived and saw that his mother was gone, but her belongings (car, coat, & handbag) were still there, he called the police. Police responded and searched the store and the area, but did not find Trudy.
Trudy Darby is Found
An individual who heard that Trudy was missing, heard from a neighbor that he heard a gunshot the day Trudy went missing, coming from the Little Niangua River. The individual who heard this went to search near the river himself. While searching, he found blood and blonde hair on the road and immediately contacted the police.
When police search the area, they found the blood and blonde hair the individual told them informed about and a.38 shell casing. Gauging the flow of the river, police believed if a body was thrown in the river, it was likely they would recover the remains close by.
Police requested helicopter assistance to search along the riverbank. About three quarters of a mile from where the blood, hair, and shell casing were found, the body of a nude female was discovered, submerged in about 4 feet of water. She had been shot twice; the first bullet entered her right ear and lodged in her skull. The second entered her back, entered her brain, and was discovered on her scalp.
Investigators did not uncover any leads until 1994.
Jess Rush had been living with his family in Kansas City, Missouri between the 1992 and 1993. While living here, the Rush revealed to a friend, Elizabeth Corpening that he had been involved in Trudy’s murder. Elizabeth dismissed the statement and never reported it to authorities.
Rush also confided in Carl Blakely, Rush’s neighbor, that he had been involved in the murder. Carl took the confession seriously and reported it to the police. Around the same time, Gretchen Chastain, an acquaintance of Rush, had also told police that Rush told her he was involved in the abduction and murder of Trudy.
Chris Winters, a friend of Rush, had also been confided in. Rush told him what he and his co-conspirators had done to Trudy.
Rush was arrested and interviewed by three officers, one being a juvenile officer, as Rush would have been 15-years old at the time. At the beginning of the interview, Rush denied any involvement in the murder, but as it progressed, he admitted he was there and witnessed what transpired.
Rush told investigators that he, his half-brother, and another individual, went to the K&D Convenience Store intending to steal money and abducting Trudy.
Rush told police after he, his half-brother Marvin Chaney, and the other individuals emptied the register, they dragged Trudy out of the store and forced her into the truck of their car. They drove to a nearby barn, where they raped and beat Trudy before shooting her in the head. They placed her back in the trunk and drove to the Little Niangua River. Once they opened the trunk, they realized Trudy was still alive, and shot her in the head again. They then threw her body into the river.
Police arrested Jess Rush and Marvin Chaney for the abduction, rape, and murder of Trudy Darby. Though Rush had implicated multiple people in the murder besides his half-brother, nobody has been arrested regarding Trudy’s murder. (More information below on alleged co-conspirators).
While in prison, Rush confided in three inmates three inmates that he partook in the murder. All three inmates would testify against him in court.
Rush had thought one of those inmates, Edward Thomas, was a jailhouse lawyer, whom he had confidentiality with. Rush believed that Edward was going to help him beat his case. Over the course of their interactions, Rush had written thirteen letters; some hinting that he was involved in other crimes, and two letters, he implicated himself in the murder of Trudy.
According to court doucments, one letter stated the following:
“I just wish my brother would have done like I said at the barn and burnt the bitch up but that pussy ass cheevers and parel desided to take the bitch to a fuckin river instead. I was to fucked up to argue with em all I wanted to do was fuck the bitch then shoot her in the head to watch her brains come out. Sounds cool huh?.. if the bitch would have not moved in the trunk at the river my brother wouldn’t of had to shoot her in the head again just the have the cops find a shell the stupid mother fucker the only smart thing we did was have marshels brother greg burn the barn other wise the mother fuckers would have a lot more on us. im glad they don’t know every thing else we did or i’d be on death row.”
In the second letter, he made a statement, referring to Trudy as “that bitch we killed in macks creek [Macks Creek, Missouri].
Rush went to trial. During the trial, everyone who he had confided in testified against him.
Elizabeth testified, “he told me they went to rob her at a convenience store, and he shot her.”
Carl testified Rush told him, “They took her to the river to get rid of her, said they shot her in the head once and she wasn’t hardly dead, and they shot her again. And they went back and burnt the barn, then they went back and cleaned up the evidence and took it and stashed it.”
The last individual who would testify against Rush was Christ. Chris testified Rush told him “he and his brother had kidnapped a woman from some kind of convenience store, said they he pit the lady in his brother’s car trunk. “Him and his brother were trying to rape her, and she was fighting, and he said that he beat her until she quit fighting, then he’d shot her and had gotten rid of the body and put her in a creek.”
Verdict & Sentence
Rush was found guilty and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
On April 8, Marvin Chaney was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping. He sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and 15 years for the kidnapping charge.
According to court documents, Chaney made a plea deal with the prosecution. In exchange for taking the death penalty off the table, Chaney would plead guilty, be sentenced to life in prison, and provide information about the murders of 3 additional women. Court documents also show that Chaney had appealed this decision, stating he was coerced by his lawyers into taking the deal. Though a judge had denied Chaney’s appeal, and the plea stood, it was unsure what information he provided about these three other murders. The document does state there was evidence linking him to the crimes.
Rush had stated in his letters to Edward the names “cheevers”, “parel”, “marshel”, and “greg”. These names refer to Marshall Cheevers and his brother Greg Cheevers. It is unclear who Rush is referring to when he mentions “Parcel”.
Marshall James Cheevers and still lives in Macks Creek, Missouri. He has been on the sex offender registry for a crime he committed on May 16, 1992, when he was 29 years old. He was arrested for sexual abuse in the first degree; his victim was 18 years old.
It is unclear why these individuals have not been charged with any crimes regarding Trudy Darby.
Marvin Chaney died of “apparent natural causes” while incarcerated at the Potosi Correctional Center in Mineral Point. He was 56 years old.
Rush served his sentence in the South Central Correctional Center. He was released in September 2022 to the Transition Center of Kansas City.