When a woman and child were murdered in their Franklin home, the case was another reminder that no community is completely safe.
The murders of Blake Dickus, 10, and Chynna Dickus, 26, on July 24, 2006, was a shock to police, the school Blake attended — which still has his picture hanging in the building — and an entire community.
Ten years later, it haunts the investigators who desperately want to solve the case, and it continues to have an impact on the community.
That day, police officers saw a gruesome scene inside the home on Aberdeen Drive, where a woman and her stepson were murdered. What they saw stuck with them.
And the search began for a killer.
“It was surreal and very difficult to imagine such a heinous crime could be committed right here in little Franklin,” said Dr. John Shafer, director of the counseling center at Franklin College and a trained psychologist who counseled emergency responders after the murders.
“It had a psychological impact on all of us.”
Shafer recalls the early conversations he had with police officers who had seen something most people should never see. Those officers were forced to face the reality that they could lose a child or a partner, and many had kids of their own about Blake’s age, Shafer said.
Many struggled with the question of why this happened to an innocent woman and a little boy just starting his life, Shafer said.
And the case also continues to weigh on them because it has not yet been solved, he said.
The case was one of few that Shafer could recall that had such a huge impact on the community. Other examples are the murder of Kelly Eckart and the case of Baby Hope, an infant who had been stabbed and dumped in a trash can.
Franklin Police Detective John Borges worked all three of those cases in his 28 years with the police department, and all three have impacted him. But the murder of an innocent 10-year-old boy hit him hard, especially because he had a child around Blake’s age then and has a grandchild around his age now, said Borges, who was police chief at the time of the murders.
“Our job is to protect the community,” Borges said.
“This is the very thing that no community wants to wake up to or come home from work and find out.”
Of any case he has worked, the Dickus murders is the one he gets asked about the most by residents, other police agencies and random people he meets, he said.
“People want it solved,” he said.
The case is one that haunts detectives because they want to see it solved, too, Borges said. When he spent five years as a road officer after stepping down as chief, Borges wasn’t working the Dickus case during that time, and he is glad to be back on it, he said.
Since then, he has had plenty of ups and downs in the case, with getting a new tip or lead, pursuing it and then being back to where they had been before, he said.
But since the murders, Borges has maintained unwavering confidence the case can be solved with the right information from the public, he said.
“This case is solvable if we are pointed in the right direction,” Borges said.