Listen to Strange Disappearances in Kentucky
Hey, y’all, and welcome to Southern Macabre! I’m Aeryn and I am so glad you’re joining me for Missing Person Monday! Today I’m going to tell you about twelve people who are missing from Kentucky. Some may have been murdered, one may be hiding to avoid prosecution, and one may have left town to live her best life somewhere else.
We’re going to start off in Persimmon Grove, Kentucky, a small community near the Kentucky-Ohio-Indiana state lines. I couldn’t find much information on it, so I’m assuming there isn’t much there. It was probably even smaller when the event I’m going to tell you about took place.
George William Hawkins was 48 years old when he went missing on April 3, 1961. His day started off normal enough. He fed his oldest daughter breakfast and kissed his wife before leaving his home, an apartment above the general store he owned. He was also a peace officer. He lived in Persimmon Grove, but was last seen in Newport about 20 miles away.
He called his wife at 1PM to tell her he would be on his way home after he met with his lawyer about his upcoming IRS audit. She said that he sounded normal. Sadly, he was never seen or heard from again.
On April 7, so four days later, his 1959 Plymouth Fury station wagon was found alongside a river in Dayton, Ohio. It had half a tank of gas, the keys were still in the ignition, and there was muddy water in it. It also looked like it had been washed and rinsed with a muddy rag.
There is evidence that ol’ George was taking bribes from organized crime officials, including those who ran gambling businesses, during his time as a peace officer. Allegedly, he was increasing his prices and the criminals were getting tired of paying him and wanted him dead. The case is still unsolved.
Corbin is a small town located in Whitley and Knox counties in southern Kentucky. It is the home of the first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, so you will find the Harland Sanders museum and a statue in his likeness in town.
On May 21, 1971, Claude Taylor and Martha Sue Shelton put their three children to bed. One of their daughters heard them talking about going to King’s Truck Stop about five miles away, but they never made it there.
The Shelton’s had been saving up money and had $600 in a bowl on the kitchen counter. When the children woke up the next morning, their parents, the family’s 1967 Ford Galaxie 500, and their parents were gone.
Claude had been steadily employed for ten years and no one believed he or Mary Sue would willingly leave their children behind. They have never been seen or heard from again.
Claude was 37 years old and Martha was 27. Neither of them or their car has ever been found and foul play is suspected.
Fort Campbell is an Army base located along the Kentucky-Tennessee line in Hopkinsville, Kentucky and Clarksville, Tennessee. It’s located sixty miles northwest of Nashville. It is home to the 101st Airborne Division and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
Alice Fay Jefferson was living at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. She had two children from a previous relationship and was a proud Army wife in 1974 or 1975 when she went missing.
Her husband, Andrew Lee Jefferson, said he came home and Alice wasn’t there. When no one showed up to pick them up, her children walked home and knocked on the door. They knocked, and knocked, and knocked. They noticed their mom’s car in the driveway. Finally, Jefferson opened the front door, but told them that they could not go in their room. When they went into their mom’s room, her clothes were still hanging in her closet.
After a couple of days, he packed some bags and drove the children to Alice’s parent’s home in Little Rock, Arkansas. He claimed that she had abandoned the three of them to stay with friends in Nashville, Tennessee. He never reported her missing.
Her parents tried to report her disappearance to police in Kentucky and Tennessee, but both states claimed it was outside their jurisdiction. An investigation was finally opened in 2013, forty years later!
Someone observed her holding a .38 revolver just before she vanished. Was she just wanting it in case something happened? Or was she afraid of someone? Her daughter said she may have feared Jefferson.
Lexington, Kentucky is the second largest city in the state. It is known as the “Horse Capital of The World”, but the Kentucky Derby is held in Louisville, 77 miles away. There are a number of race tracks here, though. Lexington is the first place to enact an urban growth boundary to preserve the infamous horse farms.
On January 25, 1977, Melanie Dee Flynn was a secretary at the Kentucky High School Athletic Association on Cooper Drive in Lexington. She was seen leaving her office that day around 5PM for a doctor’s appointment at 5:30. She never made it there.
Her red 1975 Ford Elite was found in an apartment parking lot that was known for drug activity on February 8th. Her red leather coat and her suitcase from a trip the previous week were in the car.
In August of that year, her purse was found floating in the Kentucky River near Camp Nelson. The purse contained lipstick, a perfume atomizer, and two bottles of medicine, one of which was Melanie’s antihistamines.
She was working with the police as an informant when she went missing. She was pretending to date a detective, Bill Canan, and was introducing him to members of the drug culture. She was trying to keep herself from being arrested for marijuana.
Canan was a friend of the family and he’s the officer Melanie’s father, Bobby, reported her disappearance to. Bobby and her mother, Ella Ritchey Flynn, believe he had something to do with her disappearance.
He was arrested in 1993 on felony drug charges and passed away after his release. Melanie has never been seen or heard from again.
Henderson, Kentucky is a small city that is considered the southernmost suburb of Evansville, Indiana. The Ohio River runs through it providing lots of recreation opportunities in the area. Also, John James Audobon spent a lot of time here in the 1810s so there is a park and a museum that you can visit along with nine cast-bronze sculptures of him in town.
James Mann Morris, known as Mousie, was last seen on May 4, 1977. He’s the hippie-looking man on our Facebook page.
Mousie’s vehicle was found a few days later in Evansville, Indiana, about ten miles from where he was last seen in Henderson, Kentucky. Authorities believe that he was taken to a remote area of Henderson and shot, but his case remains unsolved.
Daviess County is well-known for its production of distilled spirits, especially Kentucky bourbon. Coal has also been mined in this large county that nearly 100,000 people call home.
Three young people went missing from Daviess County in 1986. 23-year-old Angie Dickens’s body was found in a cornfield late that year, but her case is still technically unsolved.
Investigators spoke to John Reneer, a man with a long criminal history, about the three missing people because he had connections to all of them. Shannon Green was walking to his house on July 6th to babysit his children, that’s the last time she was seen. He said that before David DeWayne Bell went missing on July 11th, he had told him that he had killed Angie and Shannon. He claimed that DeWayne had also confessed to killing a woman and her child in Tennessee.
Reneer also said that DeWayne’s father had helped bury Shannon a couple of days before his disappearance. Reneer passed a polygraph test.
Did DeWayne meet with foul play? Or is he still on the run? He would only be 54 years old today.
Paintsville, Kentucky is a small town in the middle of the state. It was a coal mining town, but as the need for coal has dwindled, so has the population. Walmart and Lowes caused small mom and pop businesses to close their doors in the 1990s. The Levisa Fork River runs through here, but there isn’t much else.
Ruvil Hale resided at The Paintsville Healthcare Center when he disappeared at the age of 47 on July 3 of 1990. He was being treated for a brain aneurysm at the time and had suffered a stroke, seizures, severe headaches, and muscle weakness. A Ford Tempo was stolen fifty feet away from the nursing home and was reported at the same time Ruvil was reported missing.
At first investigators thought Ruvil may have stolen it, but he wasn’t able to drive any distance. He also only had $2 and there was half a tank of gas in the car. He received disability and his last check was never cashed.
Police have never found anything related to his disappearance.
A private investigator was hired who found out that Ruvil had discovered a scam going on at the nursing home where they were purchasing low-quality items at high-quality prices. The P.I. felt that Ruvil was going to tell so someone who likely had daily contact with him at the nursing home abducted and murdered him.
No one has ever been arrested for the scam, however, and this case is cold.
I’m going to tell y’all the details of this case and then I’m going to speculate just a little bit.
Morehead, Kentucky is a small town in Rowan County near the Ohio state line. It is an official Kentucky Trail Town with hundreds of miles of multi-use trails. The Sheltowee Trace Trail runs alongside Main Street.
Gladys Stella Kidd went to her bank on August 6, 1990 and cashed a check for $80,000 from selling her farm and equipment in Morehead, Kentucky. She told her children that she wanted to sell the farm, but did not tell them she had listed it. They took her around to look at houses, but she didn’t seem interested in any of them.
Her son found out she had vanished when he received a letter from her about seventeen days later. Part of it said, “Don’t try to find me, I would just leave. Don’t spend money trying. Love, Mom.”
Her children say that it was definitely her handwriting, but the grammar and spelling were perfect – something that stood out to them as she only had a fourth grade education. They felt that someone may have coached her.
She was 71 years old and had been a widow for almost eight years, but she had a secret boyfriend who seemed to live in the community for about two years. He never spoke to her children or grandchildren and still has not identified himself. She told them that they would be shocked to learn his identity, implying it was someone they knew.
She took all of her clothes and her filing cabinet with her when she left. She parked her car in town and left the keys in it.
Her children and a grandson said that the last year or two she became more distant with them and they blamed her boyfriend. He would call her and she would rush to her car and go meet him at an undisclosed location. If one of them answered, he would hang up and call back.
I think she was disinterested in buying a new home because she was planning to leave. It is suspicious, though, that her social security checks haven’t been cashed, her driver’s license hasn’t been renewed, and her social security number hasn’t been used.
Police do suspect foul play, but they don’t say why. Today she would be 102 years old so we may never find out what happened to Ms. Gladys.
Scottsville, Kentucky is another small town that is located on the border it shares with Tennessee. The Noah Hoover Mennonites, an Old Order branch, reside here so y’all know you can get good food if you visit. Dollar General was founded here in 1968. I love how when I visited their website and clicked on “Visitors” it immediately listed restaurants before parks, museums, etc. Very southern of them!
Getting to our final story, Peggy Sue Ashley-Vinson went to the Allen County Police Department on July 29, 2000 after being assaulted with a deadly weapon by her boyfriend. He has never been named and has not been considered a suspect in her disappearance.
After leaving the police department around 1:30AM, she showed up on surveillance video at A.O. Smith factory in Scottsville around 2AM. There was a white pickup truck following close behind her.
Peggy Sue had three children, two lived with their fathers and one was with a babysitter. She has never made contact with anyone and no one has reported seeing her in almost twenty-two years!
In 2019, police obtained a search warrant for property belonging to Calvin Smith, who was considered a person of interest. There is no further information on this case and it seems to have gone cold once again.
If y’all want to read the transcript, it can be found by visiting the website, southern-macabre.com and the pictures will be on the Southern Macabre Facebook Page. If you want to reach out to me, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a voice message at Anchor.fm/SouthernMacabre.
Thank y’all so much for listening today – I appreciate each and every one of you! Come back on Wednesday for a new paranormal story and on Friday when I’ll tell you about a true crime! I hope y’all have a wonderful, safe week. God bless, y’all!