Dick Weston
The strange case of Dick Weston

A 1954 black-and-white photograph of the Fairfield Grade School basketball team is striking for a couple of reasons.

First of all, it exists and we know who's in the photo. The boys, with Principal Chester Bosse, who was also the coach, are gathered in front of the school in uniform, the fabled Gold and Blue with the big "F" on the front. One of the boys is holding a trophy. If Fairfield were to exist today, it's clear that stories of the team would be legend.

Well, probably not since hardly any of us even remembered it at the time. FGS had beaten St. Michael's 34-31 to win the Franklin County grade school tournament. That, were nothing else amiss, would be reason enough to revere the photo as an archival treasure. The trophy is long lost to someone's attic or rubbish heap. An article in the Brookville paper the week of the event proclaimed that the town was proud of the team because it had shown good sportsmanship.

There's a bit of a rub to that. One of the boys on the team -- Dick Weston -- was singled out in a tournament report by Joyce Holmes for having hit one of the St. Michael's boys in the face with his fist during the game. Joyce claimed it was a questionable call. Who knows? Those who would remember probably either agree or disagree. Joyce was a bit of a homer.

Weston was one of the team's co-captains, though he had apparently gained a bit of a reputation as a hard-nosed player unafraid to inflict some corporal damage on opponents. So goes the story. It makes for interesting theater and is the backdrop of a more sinister yarn that turned tragic, and evolved into being downright cruel.

Weston was a killer.

In the period between his fist-attack on Jimmy Cooper in the Springfield gym that night until sometime in 1981, Weston had amassed something of a significant prison record. Bank robbery. Who knows what else. He did spend time in the Army and had been stationed in France in 1959-60. He'd also been in federal prison for robbing banks and was out on parole in 1981 when he somehow got possession of a gun and a reason to use it.

The fact that he was at that point in violation of the terms of his parole is somewhat ancedotal to the story. It did help convict him and led to his conviction of some other charges.

The story is complicated, but connecting the proverbial dots is not as important as the outcome -- and what became of Weston.

Piecing together chunks of Weston's life after he grew up in Fairfield, he was 42 and living in Ripley County, either Sunman or Milan, when he somehow met up with a guy named Ron Thomas. Thomas is an enigma himself and learning what happened to him is a chase in the dark. In any case, we don't much care where Thomas went after the events that finally put Weston away for good. Thomas was not captured. What sort of life he led, it doesn't matter, though I have learned that he was killed in 1991. His wife at the time was considered a suspect but was not charged.

On July 6, 1981, Weston and Thomas robbed and killed the family of Billy Franklin Stevenson in their home in Clermont County, Ohio, southeast of Cincinnati. The Stevenson house was set ablaze. Arson. Killed were Stevenson, his wife Lynda, their 5-year-old son Billy and Edward Dowell, Lynda's brother.

Weston had gone to the house with Thomas in search of money, which Stevenson apparently had a lot of. Stevenson ran a fireworks dealership and worked with large sums of cash. Weston and Thomas, who knew Stevenson, went to the house to get the money. They also took jewelry, killed the family and tried to cover it with the fire. It was never clear how much money was taken. A couple hundred thousand, maybe.

A lot of other people were involved in the story, which garnered regular headlines in Cincinnati-area media. A young woman named Drucella Merida Thompson, Weston's half-his-age girlfriend, was convicted of conspiracy in trials that went on for more than 2 years, both in federal arenas in Indianapolis and state courts in Ohio.

Weston apparently wasn't concerned about his situation. Federal police found evidence of the robbery by locating Weston's duffel bag full of cash, jewels and a gun -- and the bag had Weston's name on it. It had been buried not far from Weston's residence. He had also apparently told the landlady that he had done the crime. He had also ratted himself out to a fellow convict in jail. Police found two of Lynda Stevenson's handbags in the Whitewater River near Brookville, 2 days after the crime.

A state cop had stopped Weston the night of the crime for speeding in Thomas's truck not far from the scene, but didn't issue a ticket. Later, he testified under hypnosis that Weston was the man. Another woman, Stevenson's wife's daughter, put Weston at the house. She had briefly met him when Thomas and Weston had come there asking for Stevenson. Her testimony was also extracted through hypnosis, which created something of a controvery at the time among legal experts as to whether the process was reliable.

In any event, Weston seemingly didn't much care if he got caught.

Convicted of interstate transit of stolen goods, parole violation and a couple of other crimes in July 1981, Weston was headed back to federal prison and, after that in 1983, he was convicted in Clermont County of murdering the four family members. He was to serve four consecutive life terms.

His appeals all failed. He died later in prison. Details of that are not easily located. Obituary information of his mother Hazel, in 1983, said Dick was "living" in Leavenworth, Kansas. A federal prison is located there.

The 1954 basketball photo shows Weston (back row, 2nd from left) as a somewhat chubby kid, maybe a little stronger than his classmates. He's got something of a smug look on his face.

In reading about him, he was more than just smug. He was just plain evil.