By GREGG AAMOT
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - For more than 27 years, authorities thought Gilbert Peppin shot his wife to death at home one summer night in 1972. For just as long, Peppin maintained his innocence and even cooperated with investigators trying to nail down the killer.
Now authorities say a recent confession by the couple's former paper boy - already jailed for another death - is Peppin's long-awaited exoneration.
`It's been a long 27 years,'' Peppin said Wednesday after Ramsey County authorities announced the confession of Charles Lee LaTourelle. ``There is no better thing I could find out at this time in my life.''
LaTourelle, 44, confessed to the crime Oct. 10. He is already serving a prison sentence for the 1980 murder of Catherine John, a St. Cloud State University student. Ms. John was stabbed 21 times, raped and dumped into the Mississippi River.
Authorities say LaTourelle told them he killed Phyllis Peppin, then 26, on June 14, 1972, after he broke into her home and she tried to flee. LaTourelle, then 17 and the neighborhood paper boy, had come there with the intent of raping her, and says he was ``obsessed'' with her, according to a criminal complaint. He has been charged with second-degree murder.
Mr. Peppin had long maintained he found his wife's body on the floor after coming home late from work at his father's barbershop. While investigators suspected Peppin, he was not charged. He cooperated with authorities, got married again and kept working as a barber. Police never considered LaTourelle as a suspect.
Peppin said he vaguely remembered LaTourelle, but only after being shown a photograph. ``I have no idea other than I probably paid him a few times for delivering the paper,'' he said.
Peppin's wife of 16 years, Adrienne, said Wednesday she had endured
criticism from relatives fearful of her marrying a murder suspect. The
couple have two children, ages 13 and 15. ``He's the best guy I ever met,''
she said. ``Hopefully, he can live his life in peace, and Phyllis can rest