1987 slaying of Ill. family unsolved, haunting

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ST. LOUIS (AP) _ A serial killer’s execution in Texas is renewing debate about whether he played a role in the massacre of a southern Illinois family more than a quarter century ago.

During the 1987 attack in the village of Ina, someone bludgeoned pregnant Ruby “Elaine” Dardeen and her 3-year-old son. When Dardeen gave birth during the assault, the newborn was also slain.

Dardeen’s husband, Russell “Keith” Dardeen, was found dead the next day in a wheat field.

Tommy Lynn Sells later claimed he committed those killings. They were among as many as 70 he claimed he carried out in various states as a drifter and carnival worker.

Texas executed Sells this month for a 1999 stabbing death of a 13-year-old girl.

No one has been charged in the Dardeens’ death.