2011-12-08 / News

Investigators examine 36-year-old murder case

Washington authorities reviewing information in area man’s shooting
810-452-2650  ggould@mihomepaper.com

ELLENSBURG, WASH. — For 36 years the murder of Deerfield Township native Ralph Dean Templeton has gone unsolved.

Templeton, who played a small role in the 1972 Democratic National Convention and made an unsuccessful bid for the nomination to run for president, was found murdered in a ditch outside Ellensburg, Wash. in March of 1975.

His killer has never been found, but authorities in Washington are looking for family members or friends of Templeton’s to try and collect any further information they can on the nearly 40-year-old case.

Det. Andrea Blume, of the Kittitas County Sheriff ’s Office in Ellensburg, said she would like to talk to anyone who knew Templeton.

“(We’re) looking to get more information on this case and specifically family information, as we have his personal effects still,” she said.

Templeton, who once lived in Flint and is buried in a family plot in Deerfield Township in Lapeer County, had a dream of becoming president and launched his own campaign to be a write-in candidate in the 1976 election.

He was a speaker at the 1972 Democratic National Convention, where he reportedly talked to the party faithful about his plan to build a bridge across the Bering Sea to connect Alaska and Russia.

His bid for the 1972 nomination was cut short, however, when anti-Vietnam War crusader George McGovern clinched the honor. McGovern went on to lose the presidency to Richard Nixon — who was caught up in the Watergate scandal and remains the only president to ever resign from office.

After his loss to McGovern, Templeton began organizing a write-in campaign to run for president again in 1976. It was during this time Templeton, who lived as almost a drifter by most accounts — was killed.

His body, showing the signs of a gunshot wound to the head, was found in a ditch along a rural road outside Ellensburg. According to police records, the murder was never solved.

Records show Templeton’s body was claimed in Detroit by a relative and he was taken to a Hazel Park mortuary, then later was buried in a family plot in the West Deerfield Cemetery next to a Ralph and Olive Templeton.

His grave marker adds more intrigue to the story. Inscribed on the stone is Templeton’s name, with the words: “Assassinated while seeking the nomination for the office of President of the United States of America.”

Little more is known about him locally.

Deerfield Township Clerk Debbie Oliver said in 2008 she and most residents of the township have heard about the marker on Templeton’s grave, but little more is known about the family.

“(The gravemarker) sits there just off the drive and it says he was assassinated while running for the office of president.” said Oliver, in 2008. “It’s very strange.”

A search of the internet finds virtually nothing on Templeton, except for a review of an obscure book about the one-time politician’s troubled life.

The book, called From Asininity to Assassination, reportedly chronicles Templeton’s bid for the presidency and the “bit role” he played in the 1972 Democratic National Convention.

Det. Blume asks anyone with information about Templeton or who knows how to contact members of his family to call her at 509- 962-7069.

If you have information about Ralph Dean Templeton or his family, contact:

Det. Andrea Blume

Kittitas County Sheriff ’s Office

307 W. Umptanum Rd

Ellensburg, WA 98926

Call: 509-962-7069

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