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Back in the day, Oct. 11, 1958: Leslie Arnold leads police to parents' bodies in backyard

Back in the day, Oct. 11, 1958: Leslie Arnold leads police to parents' bodies in backyard

First look

Leslie Arnold leads authorities to the place in the family’s backyard where he had buried his parents after fatally shooting them.

Listen to part one of our podcast as Omaha.com's Henry Cordes describes the events leading up William Leslie Arnold murdering his parents in 1958.

While handcuffed between two detectives and showing little emotion, 16-year-old William Leslie Arnold walked detectives to his backyard 63 years ago today and pointed to a spot beneath a lilac bush. That’s where he told them to dig.

And that is where a uniformed officer discovered the bodies of his mother and father, whom Arnold, who went by his middle name, had shot and killed in their home near 66th and Pacific Streets.

The killings took place two weeks prior, and during that time Leslie lived in the house, going to and from school and carrying out the pretense that his parents had unexpectedly gone on a trip.

On Oct. 11, 1958, Arnold made a statement to authorities after pointing out to them where his parents bodies lay buried. Leslie said he killed them because he had argued with his mother about driving the family car to go on a date.

After killing both of his parents, Arnold said he hid their bodies in the basement and took his unsuspecting younger brother to a neighbor's house.

Arnold said he later dug a trench 6 feet long, 2 feet wide and 3 feet deep. He first carried his father up the basement steps, outside and across the lawn and dumped him in. Then he followed with his mother.

After pleading guilty in the 1958 murders of his mother and father, Arnold was sent to the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln three months before his 17th birthday. He had been sentenced to a life term. He remained there until 1967 — when he escaped along with another inmate.

Arnold slipped through sawed-off bars, scaled a 12-foot fence topped with barbed wire, and vanished into the sticky July air.

More than 60 years later, Arnold officially remains at large. And he holds another distinction: He’s the last man to successfully escape from the Nebraska State Penitentiary.


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