The first murder happened nearly 28 years ago, at the Lake Barkley State Resort Park. Assailants gunned down Kenneth Ladd while working the desk overnight on October 5, 1980. Investigators gave the theft of $1,775, which was never recovered, as the motive for the murder. State Police arrested Michael Lee Cunningham, charging him with Capital Murder and First Degree Armed Robbery.
The investigation revealed that Ladd had been shot twice in the head and once in the heart with a .22 caliber rifle.
The KSP also arrested David Mitchell, charging him with Complicity in Capital Murder and First Degree Armed Robbery.
A Trigg County Jury acquitted Cunningham of all charges on January 27, 1981. Prosecutor (now State Supreme Court Justice) Bill Cunningham told The Cadiz Record at the time of the trial, “The evidence was clearly there.” He attempted to match tool marks from shell casings at the scene to tool marks created by Defendant Cunningham’s rifle.
Then-Commonwealth Attorney Cunningham called upon an eyewitness to identify the suspect’s car leaving the scene, a second witness to place the defendant at the Lodge, and a third, a cooperating defendant in the case to identify Defendant Cunningham as a participant in the crime.
Despite evidence presented, the jury acquitted the suspect. Charges were later dropped against Mitchell in December of the same year. His attorney, Kenneth Kennedy said that without a conviction of the primary defendant, a collaborator could not be identified or tried.
Trooper Dean Patterson of the Kentucky State Police said that he was unfamiliar with the murder of Ladd. He said that the KSP might consider the case closed, despite the acquittal since defendants may not be tried a second time for the same offense. “In some cases, if the suspect is acquitted, we may close a particular case with no other suspects in the mind of investigators at that time.”
The second unsolved murder in Trigg County happened on June 24, 2002. An assailant or assailants gunned down 33-year-old Chantell Humphries in a rural part of the county near Cerulean.
Read about all of the county's unsolved murders in The Cadiz Record.