Carolee Ashby cold case from 1968 solved, driver of fatal hit-and-run identified

Carolee Ashby

An Oswego County man has been identified as the driver in a fatal hit-and-run accident that killed 4-year-old Carolee Ashby on Halloween night 1968.

According to Fulton Police, 62-year-old Douglas Parkhurst has been identified as the operator of a 1962 tan Buick Special that struck 4-year-old Carolee Ashby on October 31, 1968.

Police say that due to the expiration of the statute of limitations no charges will be filed in this matter.

Carolee was holding her 15-year-old sisterâ??s hand as they crossed a Fulton street, now known as State Route 481 at Division Street, when a passing car struck the younger girl, killing her. The driver didn't stop. No one has ever been charged in the case.

The Fulton Police Department followed hundreds of leads over the course of the next several years, but were unable to identify the vehicle or operator responsible in Caroleeâ??s death and eventually the case went cold.

The case was reopened in 2000 as former Fulton Police Chief Mark Spawn worked to generate new leads. According to police, for the next 12 years various leads were followed but nothing led to the person responsible.

Police say they were given a lead in 2012. A witness, who now lives in Florida, contacted police after seeing an account of the cold case posted on Facebook. She told police she was approached by a member of the Parkhurst family soon after the accident in 1968. She said he had been asked to say she was with Douglas Parkhurst and his brother on Halloween night but refused. She says she was never told why she was asked to do so, but she assumed it had to do with the accident. Police say they followed the lead and focused on Douglas Parkhurst.

Police say they interviewed Parkhurst back in 1968 when it was reported that he had been in an accident that night with a 1962 tan Buick. Parkhurst denied involvement but told police he had hit a guard post in Volney. Police noted they did not believe the accident happened as Parkhurst reported because the damage was not consistent with an impact with a guard post; however no subsequent interviews were conducted.

Recently, Fulton Police say they interviewed people who may have had information about Parkhurstâ??s possible involvement, including retired members of the Fulton Police Department who worked the case in 1968 and all of Parkhurstâ??s family members.

Police say they tracked down the car Parkhurst was driving the night of the accident. It was abandoned in a field that belongs to a relative.

Police subsequently interviewed Parkhurst multiple times, during which he admitted to consuming alcohol prior to driving through the City of Fulton on October 31, 1968, and was with his brother who was passed out in the back seat.

Parkhurst told police that while driving though Fulton, he thought he hit something but believed at the time it was an animal. He said he did not see what he hit and never stopped to look.

Parkhurst says he now knows he hit Carolee Ashby. He also confirmed he mislead police when questioned about the accident in 1968. He will not be charged with any crimes. Fulton Police Lt. Stephen Lunn says the statute of limitations prevents police from pursuing any current charges.

"The only criminal aspect would be an intentional act and we have no information, no evidence that this was an intentional act," said Lunn.

Carolee's sister Darlene McCann was frustrated that Parkhurst could continue living his life without any legal consequences for killing her sister.

"I know some things people have been far more accountable for more than this man just being able to hide out, live with his family and enjoy it. We didn't get to do that," said McCann in an interview with CNYCentral and the Valley News.

Carolee's mother, Marlene Ashby, said that having answers to some of the questions she has had for 44 years also brings back the pain and heartbreak. Ashby said she doesn't understand how Parkhurst kept quiet all these years while her family suffered. Ashby says she would accept an apology from Parkhurst but doubts it will give her any closure.

"How can he be sorry? I know you live with guilt and all that - you should live with something but to feel sorry now for what he did - it doesn't even matter to me that much," said Ashby.

The Ashby family asked for the public to respect their privacy in the days and weeks ahead.

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