Episode 345:

Congrats to Australia

The Murder of Carol Jenkins


The Investigation Surrounding the Ford Pinto Car


Episode 345: Congrats to Australia

This week, Karen covers the murder of Carol Jenkins and Georgia breaks down the investigation surrounding the Ford Pinto car.

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The Murder of Carol Jenkins

The Murder of Carol Jenkins Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Swann Mongenot on Unsplash

Other Images: Carol Jenkins (via Wikipedia)


“Carol Jenkins arrived in Martinsville, Indiana, on the foggy and damp afternoon of what proved to be nobody in that town’s lucky day. This was September 16, 1968. Although no one in Martinsville was able to get to know her well, thirty-three years later most of its adult population remains familiar with certain vital facts about Carol Jenkins’s brief and abrupt experiences there. She was twenty-one years old, a shy, polite, slender, and pretty woman. As the newspapers in Martinsville and Indianapolis reported at the time, “She was a Negro,” or “a Negro girl.” Growing up in the rural community of Rushville, Indiana, she had nurtured an adolescent fantasy of moving to Chicago and pursuing a career as a fashion model. That dream, however, metamorphosed into the reality of an assembly-line position in a factory that made large appliances. If the factory hadn’t been idled by a strike, she wouldn’t have taken the job that brought her to Martinsville—selling encyclopedias door-to-door. Or, perhaps, had she and her co-workers not got a late start, they might have been able to reach their intended destination of Vincennes, ninety miles farther down the road, and therefore wouldn’t have bothered canvassing in Martinsville—then a working-class town of ten thousand, situated about forty minutes southwest of Indianapolis. Or, had she consulted and heeded her stepfather, Carol Jenkins never would have set foot in Martinsville, in which case she might very well still be alive…”

— Source: “Who Killed Carol Jenkins?” by Mark Singer (The New Yorker)


The Investigation Surrounding the Ford Pinto Car

The Investigation Surrounding the Ford Pinto Car Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

Other Images:

Ford Pinto (Ken Clare via Alamy)


Lee Iacocca (Bob Daemmrich via Alamy)


“One evening in the mid-1960s, Arjay Miller was driving home from his office in Dearborn, Michigan, in the four-door Lincoln Continental that went with his job as president of the Ford Motor Company. On a crowded highway, another car struck his from the rear. The Continental spun around and burst into flames. Because he was wearing a shoulder-strap seat belt, Miller was unharmed by the crash, and because his doors didn’t jam he escaped the gasoline-drenched, flaming wreck. But the accident made a vivid impression on him. Several months later, on July 15, 1965, he recounted it to a U.S. Senate subcommittee that was hearing testimony on auto safety legislation. “I still have burning in my mind the image of that gas tank on fire,” Miller said. He went on to express an almost passionate interest in controlling fuel-fed fires in cars that crash or roll over. He spoke with excitement about the fabric gas tank Ford was testing at that very moment. “If it proves out,” he promised the senators, it will be a feature you will see in our standard cars.”

Almost seven years after Miller’s testimony, a woman, whom for legal reasons we will call Sandra Gillespie, pulled onto a Minneapolis highway in her new Ford Pinto. Riding with her was a young boy, whom we’ll call Robbie Carlton. As she entered a merge lane, Sandra Gillespie’s car stalled. Another car rear-ended hers at an impact speed of 28 miles per hour. The Pinto’s gas tank ruptured. Vapors from it mixed quickly with the air in the passenger compartment. A spark ignited the mixture and the car exploded in a ball of fire. Sandra died in agony a few hours later in an emergency hospital. Her passenger, 13-year-old Robbie Carlton, is still alive; he has just come home from another futile operation aimed at grafting a new ear and nose from skin on the few unscarred portions of his badly burned body. (This accident is real; the details are from police reports.)

Why did Sandra Gillespie’s Ford Pinto catch fire so easily, seven years after Ford’s Arjay Miller made his apparently sincere pronouncements—the same seven years that brought more safety improvements to cars than any other period in automotive history?”

— Source: “Pinto Madness” by Mark Dowie (Mother Jones)


Karen's Episode Sources

  1. “Who Killed Carol Jenkins?” by Mark Singer (The New Yorker)
  2. “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism” by James W. Loewen
  3. “34 Years Later, Sad Secret Surfaces” by Don Terry (Chicago Tribune)
  4. “The Girl in the Yellow Scarf: The Carol Jenkins case” by Sandra Chapman (WTHR)
  5. “Slow Justice” by Bill Hewitt (People Magazine)
  6. “Murder Victim Wanted to Buy a Tear Gas Gun” by Richard E. Cady (The Indianapolis Star) 1968
  7. “Anybody Know Carol’s Killer?” by Norm Best (Indianapolis News) 1969
  8. “Jenkins Touched Small Town” by Jason Thomas (Indianapolis Star) 2002
  9. “’Thought It Safe to Walk Streets Here’ by Art Harris (Indianapolis News) 1968
  10. “Sundown Towns” (Tougaloo College)
  11. Two Youths Cleared in Carol Jenkins Slaying (UPI) 1968
  12.  “Father of 1968 Martinsville murder victim passes away” by Sandra Chapman (WTHR) 2018
  13. “Police Have Failed in the Murder of Carol Jenkins” by Larry Incollingo (The Times-Mail) 197
  14.  “Slaying of Local Girl Remains Unsolved Nine Years Later” by Judy Frost (Rushville Republican) 1977
  15.  “Victim knew door-to-door job carried potential for danger” by Diana Penner (Indianapolis Star) 2002
  16.  “'We need to acknowledge it': Martinsville tries to remake its racist image” by Will Higgins (IndyStar) 2017
  17.  “Tragedy 50 years ago still affects Martinsville” by Alexis Fitzpatrick (Vincennes Sun-Commercial) 2017
  18.  “Sundown Towns in Indiana: How a Legacy of 'Whites-Only' Towns Rose and Continues to Affect Today” by Ella Abbot (WBOI)
  19.  “Pushing Back On Perceptions: Despite Persistent Rumors, Martinsville Works On Moving Forward” by Lydia Gerike (Times-Mail) 2020
  20.  “1968 Killing of Black Woman In Martinsville Featured in Documentary Airing Monday” by Ronald Hawkins (The Herald-Times) 2014
  21. “Sundown Towns Are Still A Problem For Black Drivers” by Ade Onibada (Buzzfeed)
  22.  “Monument for Martinsville Murder Victim Rejected” by Sandra Chapman (WTHR) 2014
  23. “Time Has Come To Find Carol's Killer” by James Patterson (Indianapolis Star) 2001
  24. “Suspect Faces Murder Charge For Third Time” by Diana Penner (Indianapolis Star)
  25. “City of Rushville Designs Labyrinth to Honor The Life of A Hate Crime Victim” by Sandra Chapman (WTHR) 2020
  26.  “1968: A Year of Turmoil and Change” (National Archives)
  27.  “The Tulsa Race Massacre Happened 99 Years Ago. Here’s What to Read About It.” By Jennifer Vineyard (New York Times) 2019
  28.  “The History of Hate in Indiana: How the Ku Klux Klan took over Indiana's halls of power” by Jordan Fischer (WRTV) 2016
  29. “Martinsville Dedicates Memory Stone to Remember Victim of Race Murder” by Rich Nye (WTHR) 2017

Georgia's Episode Sources

  1. “Pinto Madness” by Mark Dowie (Mother Jones)
  2. “Case: The Ford Pinto’ in ‘Moral Issues in Business’” by William Shaw & Vincent Barry (University of North Carolina Greensboro)
  3. “Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Company, 1981” by the American Museum of Tort Law
  4. ‘Whatever Happened to the Ford Pinto?’ by Maeve Rich (MotorBiscuit)
  5. “Ford Pinto Owners Celebrate Car’s Comeback with Rally Starting in Denver” by Colleen O’Connor (Denver Post)
  6. “Making the Case for the Pinto” by Reginald Stuart (New York Times)
  7. “Year-Old Recall of Ford's Pinto Continues to Stir Deep Controversy” by Reginald Stuart (New York Times)
  8. “Ford Orders Recall of 1.5 Million Pintos For Safety Changes” by Reginald Stuart (New York Times)
  9. “FORD AUTO COMPANY CLEARED IN 3 DEATHS; Pinto's Maker Is Found Not Guilty of Reckless Homicide Charge Unusual Nature of Case Jury Clears Ford in 3 Pinto Deaths Company Officials Jubilant” by Reginald Stuart (New York Times)
  10. “Cheap, and Likely to Remain So” by John Pearley Huffman (New York Times)
  11. “Ford to Turn Over Pinto Papers” by Larry Kramer (Washington Post)
  12. “Ford Decided to Save $6.65 Per Car Rather Than Redesign, Pinto Trial Told” by Karen Clem Fritz (Washington Post)
  13. “Pinto Exploded Like Big Bomb, Eyewitness Says” by Karen Clem Fritz (Washington Post)
  14. “Jury in Pinto Crash Case: 'We Wanted Ford to Take Notice'” by Roy J Harris and Jr (Wall Street Journal via Washington Post) 
  15. “3 Die In Fiery Pinto Crash; Probe Planned” (Indianapolis Star)
  16. “Investigation Report: Alleged Fuel Tank and Filler Neck Damage in Rear-End Collision of Subcompact Passenger Cars, 1971-1976 Ford Pinto & 1975 - 1976 Mercury Bobcat” by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  17.  “Grimshaw v Ford Motor Co” Court of Appeals, 1981
  18.  “State of Indiana v Ford Motor Co Revisited”