story: Silas Allen
design: Richard Hall

For months before she died, Evelyn Goodall's nieces tried to convince her to protect herself.

She needed better locks on the doors, and she needed to cut down the tall, thick hedges around her yard on NW 20 Street near Interstate 44 so she could see anyone coming, they told her. And she really ought to consider getting an emergency button to wear around her neck.

But Goodall refused. She liked the birds that nested in the hedges, she said, and an emergency button was too expensive.

Goodall, then 94, died after being beaten in a home invasion in 2013. It was the fourth break-in at her home in three years. In one of the previous break-ins, the intruder assaulted Goodall, police said. Police never made an arrest in connection with her killing.

Before she died, Goodall told investigators that she was finishing breakfast in her kitchen at about 6:30 a.m. on the morning of the attack when a man rushed in her back door, threw her to the ground and began beating her.

Later that morning, a neighbor called police and asked them to look in on Goodall. When officers arrived at her house, they found Goodall lying on the floor just inside her front door, covered in blood, according to a police report. She was taken by ambulance to Integris Baptist Medical Center, where she died days later. Since 2008, she is the oldest victim whose homicide remains unsolved.

After the first break-in, Lily Gower, Goodall's niece, thought the invasion was a one-time event. Still, she was worried about Goodall's safety.

"She had all these big, tall bushes around her house," Gower said. "She didn’t have good locks on her house. She couldn’t hear.”

Goodall had mentioned a tall, thin, white man with long hair who'd climbed in her window once before, Gower said. But police never found anyone matching that description, she said. Investigators still call the family about once a year to update them on the case, Gower said, but they rarely have anything new to tell them.

“They act like it’s not really a closed case, like they still work on it from time to time," she said.

Kathryn Johnson, Gower's daughter and Goodall's great-niece, said it's frustrating that detectives haven't made more progress on the case. Whoever killed Goodall didn't respect the fact that she was a frail, elderly woman, Johnson said. That person could still be preying on other vulnerable people, she said. It's frustrating to know how little progress the police have made in the three years since Goodall was killed, she said.

"I think it's terrible," she said. "I thought they would have some kind of information by now."