Identical twins Kelley Malone and Brooke Koenig were 3 when their mother was shot to death in the Church’s Fried Chicken restaurant at 1302 N. Broadway on May 3, 1983. Their father had died in a car crash five months earlier, so they were left orphans.
The twins were raised by their grandmother in Kansas City, while an older sister and brother went to different households.
Over the past 30 years, they have heard stories about what happened to their mother, Julie Rosenhamer, on that Tuesday morning. Now, for the first time, they are preparing to oppose the parole of the two women who were convicted of her murder.
Regina Baldwin, 55, and Yvonne Pink, 48, both are serving life prison sentences at the Topeka Correctional Facility on convictions of first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated robbery.
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Baldwin is the first to come up for parole. She is among the inmates who will be considered for release by the Kansas Prisoner Review Board at a public comment session on July 22 in Wichita. Other sessions are being held this month in Topeka and Kansas City, Kan. Pink will be eligible for parole next year.
Koenig, who lives in St. Louis, and Malone, who lives in Kansas City, Mo., have been circulating petitions and asking friends and relatives to send letters to the Prisoner Review Board opposing Baldwin’s release.
Koenig said she has mixed feelings about the women who killed her mother. She said she realizes that they were young and using drugs when they committed the crime.
“But if someone takes someone else’s life, I feel like they do deserve to stay in jail for the rest of their life,” she said.
Koenig said the crime forced Rosenhamer’s four children to grow up in three different homes.
“Growing up, all four of us were traumatized,” she said. “What happened then still affects us today.”
“Thirty years is a long time, but 30 years doesn’t heal the damage she did,” Malone said. “I’d like her to stay in longer than 30 years. I’d like both of them to.”
Malone and Koenig both say they have no memory of their mother.
It was about 1:30 a.m. after a slow night when two robbers entered Church’s Fried Chicken on North Broadway as Rosenhamer, the manager, and two employees were preparing to close. The robbers jumped over the counter and ordered Rosenhamer to open the safe. One of the employees later testified that Rosenhamer put her hands on the counter and was getting ready to turn around when she was shot in the chest. The two other employees were locked in the freezer, and the robbers escaped with $118 in cash and the purse of one of the victims.
Police recovered the purse and cash drawers from the restaurant the next day along I-135 under the Kellogg overpass. On the night after the robbery, police set up a roadblock and stopped every car passing through 12th and Broadway. Officers went door-to-door for several blocks around the restaurant but found no witnesses.
It was a tip to Crime Stoppers two weeks later that finally solved the crime. During the trial in June 1983, one witness told the jury she heard Pink say to Baldwin shortly after the shooting, “I said don’t move and I got nervous and she moved. So I shot her.”
Pink and Baldwin were convicted of all charges. A third suspect, Erick Kelly, was convicted of murder as the getaway driver but was released in 1993 after his conviction was overturned by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
Like her sister, Malone said she is asking friends and relatives to sign petitions opposing Baldwin’s release, and she said she plans to attend at least one of the public comment sessions. She said she’s been doing a lot of the work on the phone.
“I’ve never done this before, so I’m calling a lot of people getting advice on what to do,” she said.