Elizabeth Dillow

Ruby LaBelle of Ranson stands behind her younger sister, Elizabeth Dillow, whose 1996 murder in Berkeley County has never been solved. This photo was taken after Dillow’s surgery for a brain tumor, not long before she was found beaten to death in the basement of her home in Inwood.

CHARLES TOWN – More than two decades after her younger sister was found brutally beaten in her home in Inwood, Ruby LaBelle continues to wait for justice.

“A murderer is still out there,” said LaBelle, now 82 and living in Ranson. “Nothing has been done. It’s a cold case.”

On Dec. 6, 1996, officers discovered the body of 54-year-old Elizabeth Dillow in the basement of her home in the Foxcrest Manor subdivision. She’d been bludgeoned the night before.

When Dillow didn’t answer her phone, the sheriff’s office was called and came to the home to check on her, LaBelle recalled in an interview.

“It looked like someone followed her to the basement when she went out to close her garage door,” LaBelle said.

At the time, Dillow was partially paralyzed following surgery for a brain tumor. At the time, LaBelle was also living in South Berkeley.

George and Thelma Painter raised Dillow, LaBelle, two other daughters and four sons in the Millville section of Jefferson County. LaBelle was six years older than Dillow.

Dillow’s husband, Clarence E. Dillow, had passed away on Nov. 1, 1995.

“Elizabeth always kept to herself,” LaBelle said. “She liked to be alone.”

LaBelle said no murder weapon was ever found.

Lt. Brendan Hall of the Berkeley County Sheriff Department said that while he wasn’t around at the time of the murder, he would be talk with LaBelle to review the case.

Police departments didn’t routinely use DNA to solve crimes back then, he said.  

Six weeks before her sister’s death, LaBelle endured another tragedy: the death of her daughter.

Jennifer LaBelle Folmar, 23, was shot four times and stabbed 11 times in Shepherdstown after she was mistakenly targeted as a police informant.

Two men were later convicted in her slaying and sentenced to life in prison. Authorities have said there was no link between Folmar’s murder and the attack on Dillow.

“I trust in God to give me strength and go to church,” LaBelle said. “That’s the only reason I have been able to get through all of this.”

Dillow was quite private, LaBelle said, and didn’t like to be alone at night. Her home had motion detectors in the back yard. “She was in that big old house by herself – I was scared for her,” LaBelle said. “We had gotten extremely close [again] the week before she was killed. I thank God for that.”

Though so many years have passed, LaBelle wants the murder solved. “I’m still haunted by her death,” she said.

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