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Tara Fasol, The Southern

INA - The brutal murder of an entire family in 1987 struck fear into the hearts of a small Jefferson County community. Residents struggled to find a reason for the heinous crimes as law enforcement struggled to find the killer.

"It is still unsolved," said Master Sgt. Stan Diggs, who is with the Illinois State Police District 13 in Du Quoin.

"The Dardeen case is still being looked at. Until we convict the person responsible it will be unsolved," he said. "It is the most famous case for around here because of the nature of the crimes, but it is by far not the only one."

According to an online cold case file, Ruby Elaine Dardeen and her husband, Russell Keith Dardeen, were murdered, along with their 3-year-old son, Peter.

Ruby was seven months pregnant at the time of her savage beating and gave premature birth to a baby girl, who was also beaten to death.

Several online reports of the crime indicate that the umbilical cord was cut and the child delivered prior to the beating.

The middle-aged couple, with one child and one on the way, lived in a trailer in Ina, a community of approximately 2,500 residents.

It was in the middle of November 1987 when the bodies of Ruby, Peter and the infant were found in their home.

Russell's body was found in a Franklin County field about a mile away, according to a story published in Illinoisan in 1999. He had been shot three times in the head, and his body was mutilated.

Law enforcement reports indicate the mother and her children were bludgeoned to death. Some of those reports state Ruby was also raped.

Diggs said many leads were followed but none resulted in a conviction.

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In the late '90s, Rafael Resendez-Ramirez was investigated for the deaths. He was later found to be responsible for other murders but was not convicted of the Dardeen family killings.

In 2000, after Resendez-Ramirez had gained and lost media attention, Tommy Lynn Sells took credit for the murders.

Sells confessed to the crimes from a Texas jail cell, where he awaited trial for the death of a female teen.

He admitted to 13 killings but was never convicted of the Dardeen murders.

Diggs said the case will remain cold until new evidence leads law enforcement in a direction that ends with the perpetrator behind bars.

"That case has been revisited several times," he said.

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