Cold case murder suspect's daughter shares story with Channel 3 - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Cold case murder suspect's daughter shares story with Channel 3

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WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -- Jimmy Cardin's daughter, Carmen Webb, says it simply hadn't clicked. She was 9, her sister Lena, 7, when Harrell Ernest Hulsey was shot to death in the office of his used car lot in Rossville in February 1979.

Neither she, nor Lena had been to the site since.

"The day when they ran the Cold Cases story on TV 30 years later--that's when me and my sister both knew, Oh No," she says. "We didn't know his name. We didn't even know the man had died until 30 years afterward."

"As you're growing up in the lifestyle, you didn't talk about it."

Cardin's lifestyle, Webb claims, focused on drinking, and the real sources of the income that allowed them to live in comfortable houses and wear nice clothes: big-money drug dealing, and high-stakes dog fighting.

"Most of the time we was with him at the dog fights and the drug dealing. We was always riding with him."

Hulsey's car lot 'Sonny's,' was a frequent hangout and fighting arena, Walker County detectives say.

And the fighting, Webb, believes, was her father's motive to commit murder. "He (Cardin) was mad over a dog. I think he said something like' I'll show him or something like that.'"

"He got out, got something from behind the seat, went into the building-you heard it."

Gunshots. Hulsey took a .38 slug in his upper left abdomen, according to Sheriff's reports. And he (Cardin) came back and made a statement to the effect that that takes care of that," Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson quotes from his investigator's notes.

Sheriff Wilson and Cold Case Det. Sights. Jeff Herpst and Ritchie Dye aren't that surprised that Hulsey's murder yielded few leads or definitive witnesses.

"I think it was friends covering friends, more or less," Sgt. Dye says.

"You have to realize it was her Daddy," Sheriff Wilson explains. Would she want to tell on her Dad? Obviously not."

"He (Cardin) thought we were too young," Webb says. "So he thought whatever we told the detective wasn't gonna count against him."

Webb did talk, after a confidential source made Herpst and Dye aware of her information.

They asked her to take a polygraph exam, to relay the account of the crime. Investigators concluded that her exam showed no deception.

Investigators say that Cardin's terms of parole from a drug conviction in Gordon County forced him to submit to a polygraph exam in April 2008.

"He failed two critical questions," Sheriff Wilson says, in relaying the examiner's report. "Did you shoot Hulsey, and where you there when he was shot."

"We were getting close to presenting it to a grand jury or making an arrest when his death occurred."

Cardin died in a four-car pileup on Battlefield Parkway in LaFayette, April 30, 2009. "I think it was suicide," Carmen says.

"It would be improper to say it was anything other than an accident," Sheriff Wilson says. "We don't have enough."

But Carmen is convinced. "He knew that he was guilty and he knew he was fixin'' to go to prison because of this."

She calls it the coward's way out, after years of violent anger that Cardin often would turn on his own family. "He whupped on me. He did several different (sexual) things to me, but not my sister."

Webb says the abuse stopped at age 12, when her mother divorced her father.

"I've loved him because he's my Dad," she says. "But when he died, I was relieved. Because it was finally over." Since Cardin's death, she and one of Hulsey's sons have reached out to one another via email.

This week, the Lookout Mountain District Attorney's Office effectively closed the case via letter, writing "there would have been sufficient evidence to prosecute (Jimmy Cardin Jr.) for the murder."

Friday, Hulsey's son Matthew issued a written statement on behalf of his siblings.

"We would like to thank Sheriff Wilson and Det. Sergeants Jeff Herpst and Ritchie Dyefor theirtireless efforts and professionalism in solving the case. Also District Attorney Herbert Franklin for taking the time to review the evidence when there was no opportunity for prosecution. We would also like to thank MR. Cardin's daughter for having the courage to come forward and tell the truth. We have no animosity toward that family and our thoughts and prayers are withthem. We ask that all media outlets respect our privacy. We have no interest in being interviewed. We ask that you allow our family to move on as we now have closure."

Webb's younger sister, Lena McGowan, also seeks privacy.

"I'm still working through this," McGowan tells Channel 3 in a brief telephone interview.  "I didn't take a polygraph (at the time) because I knew whatever I said would hurt him."

"I know he did it. But he's still my Dad."

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