Boone Co. detectives have suspect, forensic evidence in 1979 cold case

Detectives have suspect in 41-year-old cold case
Updated: Oct. 19, 2020 at 10:49 PM EDT
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BOONE COUNTY, Ky. (FOX19) - More than four decades after a woman was found brutally murdered in Boone County, investigators have a suspect and forensic evidence they hope will help them solve the case.

Lesley Sparrow was last seen alive on Oct. 12, 1979. She left her home in Louisville, investigators said, to go skydiving with a man she had been seeing for some time. They were supposedly going to fly on a private jet, from Lunken Airport in Cincinnati to Arizona, with a few other people.

“She was described to be adventurous and outgoing, and that wouldn’t be unusual for her because she was very personable apparently and would meet people constantly," Det. Coy Cox with the Boone County Sheriff’s Office said.

However, by Oct. 14, 1979 Sparrow was dead. The 35-year-old never boarded a plane and was instead found dead in the trunk of her own car outside of a hotel in Richwood.

Cox says Sparrow had been brutally beaten to death.

“Police were called. They get there. The first responder found the vehicle, and there was a lot of blood in the front seat," Cox said.

To this day, detectives say they do not know if the skydiving invitation was legitimate or if it was part of a devious plot to lure Sparrow away from her home.

Investigators say they do have fingerprints, and they even have a suspect.

“Over the years, several detectives that have looked at it felt like that he was actually the person that was involved," Cox said. "There was never enough physical evidence.”

Now, 41 years later, Sparrow rests in a Boone County cemetery, where for years she only had a makeshift marker.

This year, Liam Collins, 15, decided to change that by giving Sparrow a permanent headstone as part of his Eagle Scout project.

“I thought something more permanent, maybe fit in more with the rest of the cemetery would look nicer and especially a gravestone that would withstand the test of time," Collins said. “I think that doing things like this even if no one sees is what you should do just to be a kind person and make sure that everybody even after death has a nice place to rest.”

Cox says the suspect they have been investigating is now dead, but they still hope they can get the evidence they need to solve the case.

Detectives plan to try to track down one of Sparrow’s relatives soon.

Sparrow’s relatives actually live in the United Kingdom, which made it difficult for Sparrow’s remains to be moved back in the ’70′s, hence why she was buried in Boone County.

Anyone with information on the case is urged to call the Boone County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit at 859-334-4807.

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