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Missing Person: Randy Sellers

Updated: Feb 10


On Saturday August 16, 1980, 17 year old Randy Sellers was taken from the Kenton County fair by volunteer police officer, Sgt. Robert Wehner. According to a friend who was with Randy that night, Randy was under the influence of both alcohol and drugs. Eventually Randy would have difficulty even standing up. He was brought to a make shift command center for the volunteer police officers which was housed in the trailer of a semi-truck on the fairgrounds. Robert Wehner indicated to other volunteer officers that he would take Randy home and Randy was placed in the back of his cruiser, which lacked a partition between the front and rear seats. Statements given by Sgt. Wehner differ as to what seat in the cruise Randy occupied.

Radio transcripts show that a short time after departing the fair, Wehner radioed for assistance stating that Randy was "giving him some problems." Radio transcripts also show Wehner was instructed to arrest Randy if he was intoxicated or continued to give him trouble. Sworn officer Jay Seifried was directed to meet Wehner. Radio transcripts show Seifried was to advise Wehner as to what to do next when he arrived. Randy never made it home that night.

Wehner and Seifried's stories of what happened that night, when it happened, and where it happened, diverged greatly. However, both stated they dropped him off somewhere in the vicinity of what was then Visalia school. In 2021, I obtained diagrams drawn by Seifried and Wehner that showed conflicting accounts of the locations of their cruises at the time they said they let Randy go. The two diagrams differed in both the locations of the cruisers as well as the directions that the cruisers were facing. I also obtained several different radio transcripts, certified by the Kenton County secretary at different points in times, which vary in the content provided of what transpired over the radio that night.

At the time of Randy's disappearance, both officers gave written statements as to what occurred the night of August 16, 1980. Despite the fact that radio transcripts show specific directions to Randy's house were given via radio, both officers stated Randy would not tell them where he lived and that consequently, they let him go to find his own way home. However, Wehner's handwritten statement recounts that when he last saw Randy he "went under the overpass towards home." This statement indicates Wehner did indeed know the location of Randy's home.

A few years later both Wehner and Seifried gave sworn statements affirming that neither officer had harmed Randy the night he disappeared. Years later however, Wehner would confess that officer Jay Seifried hit Randy that night. In 2022, I obtained audio of not one but of two different occasions in which Wehner made this statement to law enforcement.

According to a statement by Kentucky State Police Investigator Fred Scroggins, at the time of Wehner's confession, he requested to travel to Chicago to interview Jay Seifried. Seifried had resigned from policing shortly after Randy's disappearance and had moved out of the area. According to Fred Scroggins, he was told the Kentucky State Police did not have the budget for him to travel.

As the weeks rolled into years without answers and without justice, Wanda Cotton, Randy's mother, became an advocate for missing children, joining the voices of John Walsh and other parents of missing children. She has stood with parents during their darkest hours, testified in front of a congressional subcommittee, and met with presidents, all to advocate for resources for missing children and yet, she has no answers. Over four decades have now passed since Randy left the Kenton County fair in the back of Robert Wehner's cruiser.

Randy's younger brother Ty passed away about ten years after Randy's disappearance. John Cotton, Randy's step father, who raised Randy from pre-school age, died in February of 2023 after many years of battling cancer. Wanda is the only member of the family remaining and she believes she is still alive to see to it that Randy is not forgotten and that those responsible for his disappearance are held accountable.

On February 8, 2024 the New York Times shared Randy and Wanda's story in a moving piece written by veteran journalist, Shaila Dewan. You can find that article here.

I have been investigating this case for three years now, pro bono, working closely with Wanda and with John before he passed away. I remain committed to finding the truth of what happened that night and to bringing Randy home to Wanda.

Please share this post and join Wanda Cotton in her relentless quest for justice.

Age Progression photo of what Randy Sellers may have looked like at age 49 provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Randy would now be 61 years old.



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