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Notorious wife killer William Major up for parole
Boone County man convicted in 2007 of killing his wife in 1980 is eligible for parole after serving less than eight years of a life sentence.
The parole hearing for William Major, 67, is set for Feb. 9 or Feb. 10 at the Kentucky State Reformatory in LaGrange.
Boone Commonwealth's Attorney Linda Tally Smith said she will attend the victim's impact hearing before the parole board Monday in Frankfort to speak out against the possible release. She will be accompanied by the family of the victim, Marlene Major. The family members now live in Greater Cincinnati and Garrard County, south of Lexington, where the victim grew up.
"Bill Major is a squeaky wheel, always has been," Smith said. "He always uses alleged health issues to try to obtain preferential treatment. He has 25-plus years of alleging he has medical conditions that are not as bad as he pretends they are."
She said the parole board shouldn't use Major's ailments as grounds for an early release.
William Major has served a total of seven years, 10 months and 23 days in prison, according to the Kentucky Department of Corrections.
He was first convicted of his wife's murder in 2004 and given a life sentence. That conviction was later overturned and he was retried and convicted in 2007. He was never released from prison while awaiting the second trial.
During is time in prison, Major has received 15 disciplinary actions. He got in trouble for generally refusing to follow orders, making threats and twice having "inappropriate sexual behavior with another inmate."
Major sat through two trials in Boone Circuit Court in a wheelchair with a terrycloth towel draped over the back of his neck. He was always defiant and never showed any remorse.
Marlene Major disappeared in October 1980 when she lived in Verona with her husband and two children. Her skull was found in November 1981 on a nearby farm where William Major occasionally worked.
On the day of her disappearance, she told her sister she had "proof" against her husband hidden somewhere he would not find it, and if anything happened to her, the information would go to the police, according to trial testimony. In the same conversation, she told her sister about her unhappiness and that she was going to divorce William Major.
According to Marlene Major's diary, which surfaced after her death, she had witnessed her husband sexually molesting their son.
Others testified at the trial that William Major would often tell them he would shoot his wife, cut her head off and knock her teeth out - in order to make identification difficult - if she ever attempted to leave him. (Testing of bone material for DNA did not become common practice until about 1996.)
Despite suspicions, it took authorities years to get enough evidence to charge William Major with murder.
In the days after Marlene Major's disappearance, William Major moved with their children to Rhode Island. Authorities there would eventually convict him of sexually abusing both of his children in that state. He served about 10 years in prison.
In early 2001, William Major was charged with his wife's murder after detectives learned he had confessed to his father. He later confessed to now retired Boone County Maj. Jack Banks, according to court records.
William Major told Banks he "lost it" and fired his gun until it was empty at his wife, who was sitting in their Ford Pinto. He said he dumped the body in a sink hole, tossed the gun in a nearby pond and pushed the Pinto into the Ohio River.
Despite massive searches, the car or gun was never located. The only part of Marlene Major's body recovered was a skull.
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