HAZARD — There are currently hundreds of unsolved cases in Kentucky, many of them homicides or missing person cases. Officials with the Kentucky State Police say these cases haven’t been forgotten, and they’re hopeful that anyone with information might come forward.
Authorities are renewing efforts this week to urge the public to provide information in these cases. Two years ago KSP officials released more than 8,000 decks of playing cards to prisons in Kentucky that included information about 52 unsolved homicide or missing person cases. Three of the cases have been solved since that time, and officials hope that sharing this information again can lead to new information.
“We have received hundreds of tips in the past two years that we hope will lead to more cases being solved,” said Trooper Michael Webb, who reviews leads when they come, and then relays that information to KSP’s local posts. “Not only do these tips assist with solving cases, they sometimes provide additional information about other criminal activity taking place.”
Though none are included in the 52-card deck, the Kentucky State Police does list a total of seven open cold cases in Perry County, six of which involve a murder. There are a total of 12 cold cases in the Post 13 area, which also includes Knott, Letcher, Leslie, and Breathitt counties.
Some of the Perry County cases have remained open for more than three decades and date back to the 1970s. The following is a list of those cases:
- Arlie Combs was killed in the Allock community of Perry County and found lying on his front porch with a gunshot wound to his right arm and side on Aug. 12, 1975. According to the state police, a neighbor reported that Combs had been shot before returning fire from the general direction where he thought the initial shots were coming. Police reported that .22 caliber bullets were recovered at the scene, a .22 shell casing was found approximately 200 feet from residence, and a .22 rifle was later found near the scene. To date, police say the perpetrator has not been identified and no charges have been filed.
- Burton Jones died on May 28, 1979 while riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle along Ky. 80 in Perry County. That’s when police say a shot was fired into the vehicle from a passing red Monte Carlo with a white vinyl top. Jones was struck one time, and died instantly. Police suspect that Jones’s murder may have been related to an ongoing coal strike at the time, and his death may have been a mistake. It also possible that his death is related to the murder of Donnie R. Gibson several months later.
- Donnie Gibson was killed on Dec. 17, 1979 while traveling east on what was then called the Daniel Boone Parkway (now the Hal Rogers Parkway). Gibson’s vehicle was shot three times with a shotgun, and later discovered on the parkway. Police say one individual was charged in the murder, but the charges were later dropped due to a lack of evidence.
- Lawrence W. Watkins was killed on Aug. 18, 1981 while driving a coal truck north along Ky. 15 in the Engle community. According to police, at least one shot was fired into the cab of Watkins’s truck. He was struck by the bullet before the truck ran through a guardrail and down an embankment. He was transported to the Hazard hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. No perpetrator has been identified.
- Johnny Begley’s body was recovered on Jan. 5, 1984 following a house fire on the Left Fork of Maces Creek in Viper. An autopsy was later performed, during which a .22 bullet was recovered. Police have made no arrests in this case.
- Robert Moore was shot in the head on March 12, 1986 while inside his residence in the Wabaco community of Hazard. He died from the injury nine days later at a Lexington hospital, and no one has ever been charged in his death.
- James Michael Boggs was last seen on Mach 2, 1987, the same evening he was seen inside the former Imperial Club in Vicco. According to police, Boggs was involved in an altercation while at the club and was asked to leave. He was last seen walking along the roadway that evening.
Anyone with information about these cases can contact Lt. Claude E. Little at the Hazard post, at 606-435-6069, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.