BILL AND PEGGY STEPHENSON
LOCATION: BOONE COUNTY, KY
DATE: MAY 29, 2011
EVENT: DOUBLE HOMICIDE
Saturday May 28th, 2011 started out like any other ordinary bright summer day. The weather was picture perfect with temperatures in the high 70’s and not a cloud in the sky. It was Memorial Day weekend and all across Northern Kentucky, families and friends geared up for a long weekend full of holiday festivities honoring those who had sacrificed their lives for our country.
There were the usual numerous annual city parades, firework shows, graduation parties, and backyard grill outs. The Cincinnati Reds baseball team was on the road in Atlanta but would be returning home for a Memorial Day matchup against Milwaukee. Cities across the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati region posted their parade routes and details on holiday celebrations. The city of Florence announced there would be an unveiling of a new POW/MIA monument at the conclusion of the Memorial Day Parade, which ran from Boone County High School to the Boone County Veterans Memorial. There was no shortage of festivities and fun to be had.
As Saturday drew to a close and the sun began to fade, residents of the sleepy condominiums off of Oakbrook Drive in Florence had no reason to suspect they were about to come face to face with an evil that would haunt them for years to come. Before the sun rose the next day on the 29th, 74 year old Bill and Peggy Stephenson, beloved by so many, would lose their lives in a bloody, violent, predatory attack. Their spotless condo would become the scene of a bizarre, twisted, nightmarish playground.
Sunday morning, May 29, 2011 as churches all over Northern Kentucky welcomed worshippers for a special Memorial Day service, members of Union Baptist Church were surprised to find that Peggy Stephenson, faithful organ player for 42 years, had not arrived for the morning service. Eleven minutes away at the Trucker’s Chapel on Burlington Pike in Florence, attendees were also becoming alarmed when Bill Stephenson, who led a worship service there each and every Sunday, failed to show up.
Subsequent calls to the Stephenson’s residence went unanswered and, alarmed, a family member went to check on the Stephensons. What he found would forever change the lives of the family and friends of Bill and Peggy Stephenson and leave the residents of the complex stunned and terrified.
At 12:57p.m. on Sunday May 29th, 2011 a family member called 911 announcing that he had found both Bill and Peggy Stephenson dead inside their condominium. When Boone County deputies arrived on the scene they were confronted with the dead bodies of Peggy and Bill Stephenson set within a bizarre scene like something scripted from a Hollywood horror movie. Whomever had taken the lives of the Stephensons had spent a lot of time in the Stephenson’s residence and seemed compelled to assemble scenes in various places around the condo. Detectives had never seen anything like it before, nor have they since.
UNRAVELING A MYSTERY:
As word spread of the murders of the 74 yr old couple, there was an outpouring of grief and simultaneous disbelief. The Stephenson’s had dedicated their lives to serving others and were known for their commitment to their Christian faith and values of caring for and helping others. They were a friend to the down and out, lending words of encouragement as well as tangible items to help those struggling. Bill Stephenson regularly delivered food and clothing supplies to eastern Kentucky on the weekends. One friend of the Stephenson’s said “They would do anything for anyone, including giving you the shirt off their own back. Bill never met a stranger, and Peggy was so very sweet and soft spoken. They were kind, goodhearted people who wished no one anything but joy. They didn’t just talk about loving people, they lived it.”.
Bill and Peggy were doting grandparents and great grandparents and nothing brought them more delight than spending time with their family. Peggy and Bill left behind three children, seven grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Bill was from a large family, one of fourteen children; both had too many nieces and nephews to count. Family was a source of joy and pride for both Peggy and Bill Stephenson. One of the last times family members saw Peggy and Bill was at the high school graduation of one of their granddaughters who was college bound. Life was good and there was no hint of the violent rage that would be visited on them in just a few short days.
Those who knew the Stephensons said faith came first and family a close second for Bill and Peggy, and friends soon became like family. Now family and friends struggled to comprehend their tragic loss of life at the hands of a cold-blooded brutal murderer. They wondered who could possibly have wanted to harm the Stephenson’s? Who could possibly have wanted them dead?
Some speculated that it might have been someone Bill met during his ministry at the Trucker’s Chapel. However, Bill and Peggy were quite private and protective of their home and living space and very few people had access to their home, or even knew where it was. Those who knew them best said that their willingness to help others did not include inviting strangers into their homes. The killer had gained access to the Stephenson’s condominium and had spent a significant amount of time there which seemed to speak of comfort and familiarity. Friends, family, community members, and investigators were baffled.
The senseless and brutal murders of this precious elderly couple sickened those who knew and loved them and left everyone asking why. Peggy and Bill were both so loved and deeply admired, it seemed inconceivable that anyone could be capable of harming such compassionate and kind people. As the Stephenson’s were laid to rest, over fifteen hundred people came to pay their respects and a frightened community struggled to come to terms with there being a monster in their midst.
STILL SEEKING JUSTICE:
Over the years that have passed, not a day has gone by that the Stephenson’s murders have not been worked on diligently and painstakingly. Investigators have pursued countless leads, interviewed hundreds of subjects in 14 states, and brought in outside agencies to consult on the case, determined to leave no stone unturned in bringing the Bill and Peggy’s killer to justice.
Lead investigators Coy Cox and Tim Adams of the Boone County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigative Division Cold Case Unit have worked tirelessly and have no plans of letting up. They know the case is solvable and that every piece of the puzzle brings them one stop closer to identifying the killer and bringing them to justice. Says Detective Cox: “This is an old case and not a cold case.”
There were no eyewitnesses to the murders and no murder weapon was found. Additionally, the home was cleaned and the bodies were positioned in certain ways and adorned with objects. Investigators were able to retrieve DNA from the scene, a significant factor in the ability to identify the Stephenson’s killers. The DNA has been entered into the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). So far there have been no matches.
Detective Cox and Detective Adams want the public to know that Peggy and Bill’s Stephenson’s murders are unsolved and are actively being investigated daily. They are asking members of the community to continue to come forward with information and leads on this case and vow to take every lead seriously. They are committed to solving this case and they need your help to do it. Sheriff Michael A. Helmig has created a full time Cold Case Unit and in no uncertain terms, has made this a priority. Sheriff Helmig has mandated “no rock goes unturned”, and is committed to staying the course.
No lead is too small or insignificant. It may not seem like an important piece of information to you, but you don’t know how it might fit with other pieces investigators have assembled. Your piece might be thepiece that completes the puzzle.
It is important to realize that people who are capable of murder rarely look like people capable of murder. Though we would like to believe that someone capable of such heinous acts against a kind and elderly couple would somehow stand out as a monster, the reality is they do not carry a sign that says “I am capable of murder”. Murderers do not look like monsters; in fact they often look and just like you or I. They hide in plain sight and count on their appearance to shield them from suspicion.
There is a significant chance that the person or persons responsible for the murders of the Stephenson’s would have been behaving differently in the days and weeks after the murders. The Stephenson’s died between 1 and 4 am on May 29th, 2011 so this person or persons would have at minimum that time frame unaccounted for. They are likely to have been behaving oddly around the time of the murders, changing routines, and acting in ways that don’t make sense, or are out of the norm for their usual displays of behaviors and/or routines. They may have been preoccupied with news coverage of the murders, or conversely, may not have wanted to hear anything about the murders at all and become agitated if they are brought up.
YOU CAN HELP:
Peggy and Bill cared generously and compassionately for this Northern Kentucky community and now it is our turn to return the favor. It’s our turn to care for Peggy and Bill. By talking about this case, by sharing this post, you can be a part of bringing a killer to justice, a part in bringing the answers that family and friends are so desperately seeking. Let’s put this mystery to rest once and for all and give Peggy and Bill the justice they deserve.
If you have any information on this case at all, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, you are urged to contact Detective Coy Cox and Detective Tim Adams at
859-334-4807. Every lead will be followed up on, every single tip will be investigated.
If you wish to remain anonymous you may contact the Boone County Cold Case Unit tip line at 859-334-8496 or toll free at 844-210-1111.
~None Silent, None Forgotten~