- Associated Press - Monday, April 28, 2014

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - Graffiti painted on an apartment building in Huntington has brought the unsolved 2007 slaying of a Marshall University student back into the public eye.

The graffiti, painted overnight last Wednesday on the outside of the building, read, “WHO KILLED LEAH HICKMAN,” media outlets reported.

Hickman’s body was found in a crawlspace in the building a week after she was last seen on Dec. 14, 2007. Police have said the 21-year-old from Leon was strangled.

Hickman’s father, Ron Hickman, said that there was nothing new in the case, and that there was not anything significant regarding the date when the graffiti was painted.

“It’s always on my mind,” he told The Herald-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1kiB0Oq). “It hasn’t been solved yet, and it’s always there. It’s something that never goes away.”

He said he was surprised when he learned about the graffiti.

“I think I was shocked more than anything else,” he said. “I think I’m still shocked, just processing it.”

The building’s owner, Gary Ward, is offering a reward leading to the conviction of whoever is responsible for the graffiti. He bought the building about six months ago and is renovating it.

“I’m aware of the tragedy that happened here,” Ward told WSAZ-TV (http://bit.ly/1m0LOA4). “It was a sad day for the families involved and for the people of Huntington. That crime, I know, has gone unsolved. Hopefully, at some point in the future that will change.”

“But the bottom line is, I bought the building with intent of renovating the building,” he said. “This isn’t doing anybody any good. There’s a severe amount of damage here.”

He said the building sat vacant after Hickman’s death and was becoming an eyesore.

Huntington Police Lt. John Williams said the investigation of the slaying remains open.

“We’re always concerned about solving it,” he told the newspaper. “And we want the public interest to stay alive.

“I respect the message, but destruction of public property is the wrong way to go about it. It just stirs things up and puts salt in the wounds of the family.”

Williams has met with Ron Hickman once a month for the past six years to discuss the case.



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