Trial begins in 18-year-old murder case
KINGMAN – Trial began Monday for a California man charged in the killing of a Canadian tourist in Lake Havasu City 18 years ago. The extensive time gap occurs because it wasn’t until April of last year that a cold case investigation produced a decision to charge Stacy Childs, 61, Santa Cruz, with Barbara Kalow’s murder in April, 2005.
Prosecutor Amanda Claerhout told the Mohave County Superior Court jury selected for the trial at the Law and Justice Center that there’s no dispute that Kalow and Childs were in Lake Havasu about the same time that spring 18 years ago. Defense attorney Paul Amann concurred and said Kalow, 45, Ottawa, was last seen in the office of the Windsor Inn about 8:30 April 4, 2005.
Amann and Claerhout told jurors that a partial owner of the property discovered Kalow’s body in her room, the next day when trying to determine why she had not checked out of room #139.
Claerhout said Timmy Reese, one of the initially arriving officers, summoned detectives and additional police personnel when it was determined Kalow’s death was likely a homicide. The prosecutor said a pillow and a telephone cord were missing, but that Kalow’s room appeared to be in order as it was processed for evidence collection.
Claerhout said a medical examiner detailed a laceration to her cheek, bruising about her neck and ligature marks on Kalow’s feet.
Current police chief Troy Stirling was a detective at the time who interviewed Childs as police pursued leads while investigating Kalow’s death. Claerhout said Childs told Stirling he neither knew nor killed Kalow.
Childs complied with Stirling’s request for permission, and the former detective swabbed his mouth to collect DNA evidence for which testing was completed in 2008. She said DNA collected from under the fingernails of the victim’s right hand are a highly probable match to either Childs or other male members of Childs’ family, none of whom were present in Arizona at the time of Kalow’s death.
Claerhout did not explain in her opening statement to the jury what happened between 2008 and 2022 that resulted in the arrest of Childs for second-degree murder. Amann urged jurors to consider what won’t be introduced as evidence, such as any motive for the murder and why Childs’ DNA and fingerprints were not found in Kalow’s motel room or her rental vehicle that someone abandoned south of Baker, California.
Claerhout told jurors that during the trial they will view videos of police interviews conducted with Childs in 2005 and 2022, just before his arrest. Amman noted the defendant suffered a stroke in between those interviews, which in part, explains some questions they may have when they notice differences between the interviews.
Amann said it has been proved that Childs pawned personal items in Las Vegas to generate revenue to return home from Lake Havasu. He noted that travelers checks and other personal belongings were found untouched in Kalow’s motel room.
Amann said Childs’ voluntary cooperation with police and his willing provision of DNA do not seem the mark of a man who murdered. “He is very adamant he did not kill her,” Amann said.
The Honorable Derek Carlisle is presiding over the trial that could conclude Friday, or spill over into early next week.