Serial killers in Kentucky are very rare yet there are frequent cases that can be documented of serial killers from or outside the state committing murder in the state. Kentucky serial killers are rare, leading to a low record for most murders by a serial killer in the state, but frequent. Serial killers in Kentucky are rare but some famous serial killers such as the Railroad Killer and the Angel of Death came through Kentucky to commit their crimes.
Michael Andrew Abner
Michael Andrew Abner is believed to have killed at least three different people in Somerset, Kentucky. Abner is believed to have killed Jack Roerink, Mamie Mercer and Mae Stringer. Authorities discovered he’d broken into the home of Jack Roerink, an elderly man at the time of his death.
Authorities reportedly discovered Roerink’s body in his home in Eubank. Abner, who reportedly knew Roerink, was found later after officers found Roerink’s missing truck at the location of Abner’s ex-wife’s home. Investigators believe that Abner stabbed Roerink multiple times with a kitchen knife during the incident before taking several items and fleeing with some of Roerink’s property, including his truck.
Mamie Mercer’s body was discovered in her South Hart Road in the Saline community of Somerset on October 12, 1983 in her bed. She was a victim of strangulation, and Abner was questioned during the proceeding investigation by the Kentucky State Police. Although he was never arrested, the case remained open and unsolved throughout the years until Abner was arrested in 2010.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Eddy F. Montgomery, reading from evidence received from authorities outlining Abner’s confessions, said Abner entered Mamie Mercer’s home while another woman, who lived with Mercer, was in the shower and strangled Mercer, unbeknownst to the other female.
Abner strangled 83-year-old Mae Stringer in 1988, when he was 25 years old.
Stringer’s family and investigators believed she had perished in a house fire on Dec. 2, 1988. Investigators said Abner stated he strangled the 83-year-old woman to death in her home on Ringgold Road before setting the house on fire. He was subsequently sentenced to the death penalty for his role in the three murders.
The Angel of Death
Donald Harvey was an American serial killer who claimed to have murdered 87 people, though official estimates and historical recounts believe the number falls between 37 and 57 victims. When he began killing patients, Harvey claimed to be “easing the pain” for them. However, as time bean to progress, he admitted to liking killing more and more. He considered himself a “angel of death” by his own description. Many of Harvey’s murders took place in the Marymount Hospital in London, Kentucky. Harvey was serving 28 life sentences at the Toledo Correctional Institution in Toledo, Ohio, as he plead guilty to murder charges to avoid a death penalty.
Harvey, however, did not limit his victims to those that were helpless in the care of a hospital. When he suspected that his lover Carl Hoeweler was cheating on him, Harvey decided to poison Hoeweler’s food with arsenic so that he was too sick to ever leave the apartment. Harvey would later kill Hoeweler’s father with arsenic. Furthermore, Harvey poisoned two o his neighbors with hepatitis serum int heir drinks and putting arsenic in another neighbor’s pie.
Harvey was found badly beaten in his prison cell on March 28, 2017. He died a few days later from the injuries he suffered.
The Louisville man was sentenced to death after he admitted killing his 25-year-old foster son in 1996 for $250,000 in life insurance. He told the AP in a prison interview last year that he confessed to killing Dannie Boy Edwards outside Burton, east of Cleveland, because he wanted the death penalty. Edwards had already been serving life sentences for his other crimes. He had pleaded guilty to killing Bill Lavaco, 21, of Doylestown, and Judith Straub, 18, of Sterling, in 1977. They were shot in the neck at close range.
In Wisconsin, he admitted to killing 19-year-old sweethearts Tim Hack and Kelly Drew, who disappeared from a wedding reception in Jefferson County in August 1980. Their bodies were found weeks later in the woods.
The investigation into their deaths languished until 2007, when state analysts developed a DNA profile from semen found on Drew’s pants. Investigators gathered DNA from more than 75 potential suspects in hopes of a match. One of Edwards’ children saw stories about the murders in 2009 and called authorities to say Edwards might have been the killer.
The child remembered starting school in Watertown in 1980 but then abruptly leaving Wisconsin, and said Edwards was working at the reception hall where Hack and Drew were last seen. The child remembered Edwards saying the bodies would turn up in a field. Detectives traveled to Louisville, got DNA from Edwards and matched it to the profile. They arrested him in 2009.
Born in Akron in 1933, Edwards wrote in his 1972 autobiography Metamorphosis of a Criminal that he spent his early years being beaten by nuns in an orphanage. When a nun asked him what he wanted to be, he told her, “Sister, I’m gonna be a crook, and I’m gonna be a good one.”
According to his book, he escaped from jail in Akron in 1955 by pushing past a guard and fled across the country, holding up gas stations for money. He never wore a mask because he wanted to be famous.
Robert Carl Foley
On Aug. 18, 1991, Lynn Vaughn, 30, and Rodney Vaughn, 39, both of Somerset, were reported missing by their mother after they didn’t return from visiting Foley at his home on White Oak Road. The brothers’ bodies were found in a pool of water 200 yards down a hill off of White Oak Road. Then-coroner Ed Bowling said they were shot to death. Foley killed the brothers during an argument at his home.
He was sentenced to death. Ten days after the Vaughns’ bodies were found, police searched a pond for Bowersock, Contino, McMillen and Reynolds, who had been missing since 1989. The search was unsuccessful. Their bodies were ultimately found in a septic tank in Bald Rock, covered with lime and cement.
On April 27, 1994, Foley was given a second death sentence for their slayings. Court proceedings revealed he shot them because he thought one of them had reported him to his parole officer. Foley is on death row for killing more people than any other inmate.