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Barbara Brewster found guilty of murder for her role in the 1988 killing of Miriam Rice

NOW: Barbara Brewster found guilty of murder for her role in the 1988 killing of Miriam Rice

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Barbara Brewster was found guilty of murder on Wednesday for her role in the 1988 killing of Miriam Rice. 

A jury returned a guilty verdict after just hours of deliberating following the trial, which began June 10.

Brewster declined to testify on day three of the trial. 

George Kearny, who had already pleaded guilty to the murder, passed away in jail while awaiting his sentencing.

The victim, Miriam Rice, was four months pregnant when she was murdered in June of 1988. She was also married and had a three-year-old child. Authorities determined her death to have been caused by multiple skull fractures. 

Brewster, who is 56-years-old, faces up to 65 years in prison. She is scheduled to be sentenced on August 2.

On June 24, 1988 Rice went missing while walking her dog and was found dead in Pinhook Park five days later.

“This was pure and simple,” St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter said. “Nobody knew each other. This was a stranger who was walking her dog, was taken and she was killed.”

In the span of the three day trial, jurors listened investigators interrogate Brewster on tape and heard testimony from her two children who say they were there the night Brewster and her then boyfriend George Kearney killed Rice.

Brewster’s children’s testimonies were a big part of this court case. Robert Smith, her then 5 year old son, said he actually witnessed the murder of Rice.

Paula Brooks, her then 7 year old daughter, said she was forced to clean blood off of her brother and out of the van they said Rice was killed in.

Smith and Brooks said they were camping with their mom, Brewster, and Kearney on the night Rice was killed.

Smith said he went with his mom and Kearney to get food and then he said they abducted Rice and killed her in their van.

In testimony he said: “George told my mom that she could kill her, or he would kill all of us.”

When they returned to the campsite, Brooks said they were all covered in blood and her brother told her "something bad happened." They said Kearney, Brooks, and Smith all burned their clothes.

“This is more about the families. Not just Miriam’s family but also Robert and Paula, the two kids who had to observe what happened and had to live with it for 30 years,” Cotter said.

The St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office released the following statement on behalf of Rice's family:

Miriam is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend whose life was taken in a senseless and evil action which is beyond comprehension.  And this act of evil did not stop with the brutality inflicted upon Miriam— it also took away the life of her second child.  No verdict will reverse these losses and a part of our lives remains gone forever.  Yet, today’s guilty verdict was the long-awaited result toward the justice we prayed and hoped for since June 29, 1988.

We also know that if Miriam were here she would be the first in line to thank the following people and groups for all they did to bring some sense of closure to all of us— the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office and their Victim Advocate Team; the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit; the band of retired police officers and detectives who pursued information and evidence over the past 18 months; the many witnesses who showed courage in their testimonies throughout the trial; and a jury which gave days of their lives to hear the painful story which unfolded.

For us, many of these people and groups have become a part of our lives.  And, we also know, they were constantly motivated to achieve justice as they learned how precious Miriam was to us. We are forever grateful for their tireless and professional efforts in achieving this just result.

The Family of Miriam.


Follow the links for more info and previous coverage of Rice's murder:

Charges filed in murder of Miriam Rice in 1988

Second suspect in 1988 murder extradited to St. Joseph County

George Kearney pleads guilty to 1988 murder of Miriam Rice

Suspect in 1988 murder of Miriam Rice dies in jail

Judge accepts Kearney's murder plea after his death

Trial continues in 1988 South Bend murder case



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