KSP identifies murder victim from 1990 cold case in Philpot

April 20, 2024 | 12:15 am

Updated April 20, 2024 | 12:51 am

Reconstruction of the victim

Kentucky State Police has identified the victim in a 1990 cold case where an unidentified male was found deceased with his hands and feet cut off in a wooded area off of Pleasant Valley Road in Philpot.

KSP said attempts to identify the victim over the years had previously been unsuccessful. Recently, with the assistance of the Trans Doe Task Force, the victim was identified through genealogy testing as William Dennis Mathews (10-12-52) of Louisville, according to KSP.

According to the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case web page, an unknown white male was found in the mid-morning hours of January 7, 1990, on Pleasant Valley Road near South Hampton Road. Hunters discovered the unidentified male while approximately 40 feet into the wood line off Pleasant Valley Road. The unknown male had been shot numerous times, both hands had been cut off, both feet had been cut off, he had multiple skull fractures, and numerous teeth were missing.

A January 8, 1990, edition of The Messenger-Inquirer detailed the discovery. KSP Trooper Larry Abel described it as “the most brutal murder” he’s seen in 15 years on the job. At the time, there were virtually no identifying factors on the body, with KSP officer Ed Brady telling The Messenger whoever committed the crime “attempted to obscure the identity of the body.” The victim was described as being white, 25-35 years old, about 5-foot-7-inches, and 125-140 pounds with collar-length brown hair.

Multiple media reports from the time show that police officials believe the victim was not killed where the body was found. The Daily News reported on January 9, 1990, that Daviess County Coroner Bob Howe believed the victim had been dead for at least 2 days.

A January 9, 1990, edition of The Messenger reported that a KSP K-9 was used to see if the missing body parts could be found at the site; none were. The dog’s handler KSP Trooper Fred Davidson told The Messenger that the dog, Bingo, would have been able to find “something as small as a tooth of the victim, if any flesh was attached to it.”

As detailed in multiple news stories over the years, there have been varying theories about the killer and the motive, but none of those leads ever panned out.

In 2007, the body was incorrectly identified as Scott Michael Morris, who was a teenager when he went missing from Indianapolis in 1978. However, more DNA testing a couple of years later proved the body did not belong to Morris.

In April 2022, it was announced that the Trans Doe Task Force was working on the case in association with the Kentucky State Medical Examiner’s Office.

Limited information on the case has been available on the NamUs website and TheDoeNetwork.org.

Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact Kentucky State Police Post 16 at 270-826-3312.

This story may be updated.

April 20, 2024 | 12:15 am

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