HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A St. Helens man was sentenced on Monday for the death of a teenage girl whose body was found in a ditch in October 1982.
Earlier this month, a jury convicted Kenneth Lee Hicks, 52, for the aggravated murder of 17-year-old Lori Gale Billingsley.
Hicks was sentenced by Washington County Circuit Court Judge Thomas W. Kohl to life in prison. He will have to serve a minimum of 20 years. He will be able to ask for parole after serving 15 years.
Hicks was 19-years-old when he killed Billingsley on Oct. 9, 1982.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Bracken McKee said Hicks has a complete inability to feel any form of emotion for anyone but himself.
Investigators say that Billingsley was raped, strangled and physically assaulted. Hicks tossed the girl’s body in a ditch, according to detectives. The case puzzled law enforcement for years.
In 2010, retired Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael O’Connell, started reviewing the cold case. He recalled being a newbie on the force when Billingsley was murdered and said the case stuck with him.
Detectives sent evidence back to the Oregon State Police Crime Lab. A warrant for Hick’s DNA was obtained. The crime lab determined that sperm taken from Billingsley body was a 1-in-10-billion match, according to prosecutors.
O’Connell praised the work of the lead detectives back in 1982.
Hicks did not make any statements before he was sentenced. McKee said it was a telling sign of Hick’s lack of remorse.
“Until he accepts responsibility, and starts the healing process, there is no change,” McKee said in court. “And I don’t expect there ever will be.”