Family still looking for answers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 27, 2002

On Monday, a sad anniversary will pass for one local family with a mix of happy memories, immense pain and seven months of


"I never knew life without her," Maria Goldcamp Hodges, of Flatwoods, Ky., said. "My brother and I would not be the people and parents we are today without her as our parent.

Email newsletter signup

"She was someone we both would turn to in good or bad times.

We shared our happiest moments with her and sought counseling from her as well.

I miss everything about her. You shouldn't have to pick out your mother's casket when you're 31."

In addition to the sadness of losing Pamela Goldcamp, her family still has unanswered questions about how she died.

Goldcamp's body was discovered in the early morning hours of March 28, on the railroad tracks near Mulberry Street.

At some point, her body was hit by a Norfolk Southern train. Investigators say the cause of death is still pending, but her family contends she was murdered, and her body placed on the tracks to cover up the crime. They have asked an independent forensics pathologist to study information about Goldcamp's death.

Ironton Police are getting assistance from the Lawrence County Prosecutor's Office and the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office in its investigation of the Goldcamp case.

Ironton police detective Chris Bowman has deferred comments on the case to the prosecutor's office. Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. was out of town and could not be reached for information about the investigation.

The family circle

is broken

"She was a happy, very giving woman," Maria Goldcamp Hodges said.

When Hodges was 3 years old and her brother Edward was 5, their father, Michael,

married Pamela Goldcamp. The two came to love Pamela Goldcamp as a parent and a friend.

"She was a good parent," Hodges said. "My brother and I were blessed to have her as a parent. Dad keeps saying he lost his life partner. They would have been married 28 years in May. That's a lifetime." Hodges said her father still finds it difficult to talk about the loss of his wife, and for that reason declined to take part in this Ironton Tribune story.

"She was Nanny (and) she loved kids. She would get down in the floor and play with them. Every time we'd go over to their house, she'd pull something out of the attic for the grandkids. She was great with kids."

Hodges said since Goldcamp's death, the family struggles to go on without her. More than anything, they want to know who is responsible for her death.

"I was at a funeral for a friend's mother not long before she (Pamela) died," Hodges said. "And I told her 'I don't think I could cope with losing you.'

"I don't know that our pain is any greater than anyone else who loses a family member. But there are all these unanswered questions."

A number of

questions remain

On the night Pamela Goldcamp died, family members said she went to the Moose Club for a bit of socializing. She left the club at approximately 1 a.m. Her son, Edward Goldcamp, who now lives in Morgantown, W.Va., said he saw a Moose Club surveillance tape that showed Pamela Goldcamp left the back door of the building and walked to the edge of building as if she were heading into the parking lot. The tape showed that she stopped, turned and knocked to get back in the building. She waited 40 seconds and then headed down the Second Street side of the block.

"Clearly something in the front lot makes her uncomfortable," Edward Goldcamp said about the videotape which was given to investigators after the incident. "The tape never shows my mom walk toward the railroad tracks. It appears that she turns right at the corner of Second and Mulberry heading toward her car.

But she never appears at her car on the Third Street side of the block.

"You never see her again. I she walked to the railroad tracks she would've either appeared again at the Second Street side or Third Street side of Mulberry. Someone had to go down Mulberry Street in the 10 minutes that are between her disappearing from the camera and before my dad drove by looking for her."

Family believes it was murder

Family members discount speculation that Pamela Goldcamp was depressed, went to the railroad tracks and committed suicide. Family members said she was not depressed and definitely not suicidal at the time of her death.

"The railroad investigator told me he doesn't think this was a suicide," Hodges said. "He said that people who kill themselves this way either are walking toward the train, confrontationally, or are kneeling with their arms over the head, so they can't hear the noise. She was laying face down on the tracks and she didn't even flinch when the train whistle blew. And he said women generally do not kill themselves that way, anyway."

While discussion of a possible suicide was difficult, worse still were the rumors that Pamela's husband was responsible. The Goldcamp children said Michael Goldcamp took two polygraph tests, one administered by the Ironton Police Department, and the other administered by an independent agent. Edward Goldcamp said his father passed both. Even without the polygraph tests, his family was convinced all along he wasn't involved.

"His first wife, my biological mother, said to me 'This isn't your dad. That's not what he is,'" Hodges said. "That was his ex-wife talking."

Family members discount the notion that Pamela Goldcamp had been drinking and stumbled onto the tracks by accident and passed out there.

They contend this 53-year-old woman could not possibly have navigated, alone in the middle of the night, the large drainage ditch that runs between the railroad tracks and Second Street.

"My dad has this fear that people who don't know her will think she was some drunk," Hodges said. "She wasn't. She did enjoy a drink now and then, but she was a good wife, a good mother, a hard worker. She worked 30 years at the employment office and retired 18 months before she died. She retired, but never got to enjoy her retirement."

a robbery with a tragic ending?

Another question the family wants answered is what happened to Pamela Goldcamp's money. Edward Goldcamp said her purse contained only $16 at the time her body was found. But he is certain his mother had approximately $2,000 with her the night she was killed.

"She was going out of town early the next morning, for one thing," Edward Goldcamp said. "And I never saw my mom without a minimum of $100 in her purse."

Goldcamp also said that she had been pulling tips and playing other games of chance that night, and friends have told the family she was quite successful.

Hodges said since her death, the family has been consumed by finding out what happened.

"My husband went over and took pictures and talked to people who saw her at the Moose Club that night," Hodges said.

"My brother and father talked to (U.S. Sixth District Congressman) Ted Strickland and people in the Attorney General's Office. We've talked to the FBI, just everyone."

Hodges said a friend of a family member, who is a forensics pathologist, who has asked not to be identified, is reviewing the autopsy report and has asked for other information about Pamela Goldcamp's death. The pathologist has indicated that once he gets all the information together, he may reach a conclusion in about a month.

Meanwhile the Goldcamp family hopes someone will come forward with information about who killed Pamela, and why.

"Mom was a great mother, a great grandma," Edward Goldcamp said. "She didn't deserve to die this way. Someone in that town knows who did it."