And every year, he would brace himself to tell her the same thing.
“It’s tough to report no progress, and it kind of tears you up,” Albro once told the Tulsa Tribune of having to tell the mother of a murder victim that he had nothing new.
In this case, the slaying of a young dancer, the mother had taken to calling Albro annually on her daughter’s birthday.
Albro, an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent who also assisted with the infamous Girl Scout murders case, knew well that open cases mean open wounds for families. It’s a difficult part of every investigator’s job.
But Albro worked hard to make sure it didn’t happen often.
A former deputy sheriff, Albro put in almost two decades with the bureau, and over that time, helped bring many cases to successful closes.
Leo Earl Albro, who retired in 1984 after 18 years with OSBI, died Tuesday in Tulsa. He was 89.
A memorial service is set for 1 p.m. Oct. 13 at First Baptist Church in Jay. Cremation Society handled arrangements.
“Leo was the all-around perfect agent and a prince of a person,” said retired OSBI agent Gary Davis. “All the agents loved the guy. If you were with Leo on a case, if your life was in his hands, you knew you could trust and depend on him.”
OSBI was a much smaller department in 1966 when Albro joined. He and one other agent covered all of eastern Oklahoma.
Those were still the circumstances a year later when he tackled the Dola Oldham case.
Acting on a tip that the woman had been murdered in Latimer County, Albro and his partner searched the mountains for months. They eventually found her body, and a Presbyterian minister would be charged and go to prison.
Years later, Albro still considered the case the high point of his career.
In the Girl Scout case in 1977, when three Girl Scouts were murdered during a campout near Locust Grove, Albro was one of the first investigators on the scene.
When Gene Leroy Hart emerged as the chief suspect, Albro, who was part of the manhunt, already knew him well: He had handled the two-time prison escapee’s previous rape cases.
A jury later acquitted Hart of the murders. He died shortly afterward in prison, and the case remains unsolved.
Albro “was just sick,” about the acquittal, said his daughter, Wanda Cobb. “He didn’t talk about it much, other than to say how sorry he felt for the families.”
A native of Bristow, Albro was a World War II Army veteran and served in a glider unit in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France.
He started his law enforcement career in 1949 as an Ottawa County deputy. He left the field for six years but was drawn back, becoming a deputy in Delaware County.
During his OSBI career, he would take part in several high-profile cases, among them the murder of millionaire rancher E.C. Mullendore.
Cobb even helped her father out a couple of times.
Once, she said, she played his girlfriend in an undercover drug sting in Tulsa. Then there was the time he transported a female prisoner to Vinita. He needed someone to go with him, so Cobb stepped in.
“All the way to Vinita, this prisoner propositioned him to let her loose. We got a good laugh about that over the years,” Cobb said.
Albro was a natural storyteller. And though he didn’t talk about them much, his cases gave him plenty of good fodder.
One story he did tell occurred during the manhunt for Hart, when Albro went to Hart’s mother’s house, Cobb said.
“There was a crack in the door and he could just see the mother inside and a sawed-off shotgun,” Cobb said. “She poked it through the crack and laid it right on the tip of his nose and said, ‘You are not going to take my boy.’ He said he was so surprised he almost fell off the porch. He liked to tell that story a lot.”
Albro was preceded in death by two spouses, Wilma Albro and Aleene Kay Albro; and two sisters. Survivors include his daughter, Wanda Cobb; two granddaughters; five great-grandchildren; and a brother. Memorial donations may go to First Baptist Church of Jay or a charity of choice.