Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Police: 3 men shot to death, dumped in Kentucky River

By Joe Biesk
The Associated Press

WINCHESTER, Ky. - Three men were shot to death, then wrapped in tarps before being dumped in the Kentucky River, investigators said Tuesday.

The men's identities had not been determined.

They appeared to be between the ages of 25 and 45, and none carried identification, said Capt. Stephen Wright, commander of the Kentucky State Police post at Richmond.

He said state police were investigating the possibility that the men, who were Hispanic, may have been migrant workers in Winchester, Richmond or Lexington.

"There's still a lot of investigation ahead of us," Wright said.

Clark County Coroner David Jacobs said autopsies showed the men were shot multiple times.

Time of death had not been determined, but the victims probably were not in the water for more than 12 hours when they were found about 10:30 a.m. Monday, Jacobs said.

Wright said the river might not be the death scene.

"It is a possibility that they were brought into that area after being shot," he said.

Authorities appealed to the public for help in identifying the victims.

Photos of embroidery on their clothing were distributed to reporters and camera crews.

Jacobs said other items found on the bodies were being studied as well.

He declined to elaborate.

Investigators photographed tire tracks found at the scene.

Wright said there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol use or gang activity.

Fishermen had spotted the bodies close to the Boonesboro Road Bridge and called police.

Stella Sparks works at Waterfront Station, a short walk from the bridge.

Sparks said she was worried when she learned the bodies had been found so near to the restaurant and bar where she's worked since 1994.

"It's unbelievable that it would happen this close," Sparks said. "That's the scary part. You don't know if it happened here or not. I couldn't let it bother me though. If I did, I couldn't work here."

Fifteen-year-old Vincent Lawson, a high school freshman who lives in a mobile home park less than a mile from the bridge, said he first heard about the discovery at school.

"It's just devastating," Vincent Lawson said. "I was at school and somebody said they found three bodies there. That really started to freak me out."

Debbie Purcell, 31, of Richmond, said she will think twice before returning to the area for camping and nighttime fishing.

"It makes you wonder, did someone from here in Richmond actually do this?" she said.

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