In August 1975, Arlie Combs was talking to a neighbor in his yard when he was struck with a bullet shot from the hill around his home. He would later suffer additional wounds that ultimately proved fatal, and to this day his murder remains unsolved.
After suffering the first shot, Combs was reportedly able to go inside his home in the small mining community of Allock near Vicco, retrieve a weapon and fire back. According to police, additional shots then continued to rain down from the hillside until Combs was lying deceased on his front porch. A neighbor reported to police that he was unable to see from where the shots were coming since he ran for cover as soon as the first shot was fired.
Evidence of both a shot gun and a .22 caliber rifle were found at the scene. It is believed that Combs had been shot with a shot gun and returned fire with the rifle.
To date, this shooting remains unsolved and is one of the most frightening attacks in Perry County history. This sniper style shooting was investigated by the Kentucky State Police. According to a story printed just days after the shooting in The Hazard Herald, there was a suspect in the case but the person had not been arrested.
It was thought that the shooting could be related to an incident involving Combs’s son, Arlie Combs, Jr. According to the article, Arlie Combs, Jr. had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for first-degree manslaughter just two weeks before the shooting. He had been convicted in the death of Jackie Honeycutt.
While this connection seems more than coincidental, relatives of both men said that they felt they were not related incidents.
The trail went cold in the case after the suspect was found not to be guilty of the crime. According to Trooper Tony Watts with the Kentucky State Police, no new information in this case has come out in decades.
Watts said that they are still looking for people to come forward to have the case solved. Since the case is 37 years old, however, it is likely that the shooter has passed away and will never be brought to justice. But closing the case will mean finding closure for many in the community who knew Combs as well as those that followed the story as it unfolded in 1975.
The family of Arlie Combs could not be reached for comment about the case.
The Kentucky State Police are looking for anyone with information in this case to come forward. There are multiple ways to give tips to the State Police, including a form on the Kentucky State Police cold case website and calling Post 13 in Hazard at (606) 435-6069.