Cold case detectives hint at murder charge in 1974 disappearance of NKY man

At the end of a quiet country road in Boone County sits a farm that’s become the focal point of this 47-year-old investigation.
Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 9:12 PM EDT
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BOONE COUNTY, Ky. (WXIX) - Cold case detectives in Boone County are confident they are close to solving a 47-year-old cold case: the disappearance of Ed Nichols.

Nichols vanished at the age of 22 on Dec. 3, 1974. He had told one of his sisters he was going hunting with a friend that day, but according to Boone County Det. Coy Cox, he may not have made it to the hunting grounds.

Cox believes Nichols and his hunting companion were headed to a farm along the Boone-Gallatin County line. Nichols’ friend was spotted with a shotgun, alone, near the property that day. Cox says Nichols was last seen alive buying hunting socks at a convenience store.

“This is a very undeveloped area, wooded area, thick,” Cox said.

Cox believes Nichols spent time on the farm, which is private property, prior to his disappearance. He reportedly spent time partying and hanging out with friends there. Cox said Nichols was involved in some “risky behavior.”

[More on Ed Nichols: ‘We believe we know who killed him’]

“Like the saying that you hear sometimes, ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’ What happens on the farm stays on the farm,” Cox said.

1974 cold case disappearance of Eddie Nichols
1974 cold case disappearance of Eddie Nichols(Provided)

Nichols came from a large family and had seven siblings. They have said Nichols was indeed free-spirited, a sign of the times, but did not deserve to have something awful happen to him.

“It breaks the family. It leaves a hole,” Janice Kincaid, Nichols’ sister, said. “It’s a different kind of hurt. It’s a different kind of pain.”

Nichols’ siblings remember him as a family-oriented, humorous prankster.

Through the years, they have held on to hope that someday they will be reunited with Nichols, even if he returns to them in the form of remains.

“We just hope to bring him home and put him to rest,” Nichols’ sister, Peggy Stratman, said. “That would be the greatest gift.”

Detectives have described Nichols’ case as a “no body homicide” investigation. Over the past year, they have searched several local areas and have traveled to a southern state to complete fresh interviews.

“Those were successful. We had some information that had developed, and it was corroborated by at least two different people,” Cox said.

Throughout the investigation, they have considered multiple theories. There is the idea that Nichols was eaten by wild boars, which Cox said is unfounded. There have also been rumors that Nichols was murdered and placed in a well, or killed over drugs.

“Another theory is there was a love triangle that went bad, and one individual ended up shooting Eddie Nichols, and then others got rid of the body,” Cox said. “I can tell you that there’s one theory that the more information we get, it keeps pointing toward that theory.”

Eddie Nichols
Eddie Nichols(WXIX)

Although Cox would not reveal specifics about that possible motive, he did say that he and his partner believe more than two people were involved in what happened to Nichols. They also confirmed there has never been any evidence that Nichols is still alive.

“Someone could be charged with murder in this case,” Cox said. ”I feel absolutely certain that we are headed in the right direction and that we have the right players in mind.”

In the days to come, Cox and his partner plan to interview more individuals who could be critical to the case. There are also new searches scheduled, and soon, they hope to send some items off to a lab for testing.

“We’re to the point that people who have been silent over the years that may have been involved in this, it would be to their benefit at that point in time to cooperate and to talk,” Cox said.

The 1974 cold case disappearance of Eddie Nichols
The 1974 cold case disappearance of Eddie Nichols(Provided)

Knowing there are some people who have information but have stayed quiet about Nichols’ disappearance is difficult for Nichols’ relatives to understand.

“Once you lose a person, you understand the value of life,” Connie Alford, Nichols’ sister, said.

They have turned to faith to guide them through the tough times.

“It’s not something that, you know, we think about and forget it, and it’s gone forever, because it’s never gone from our hearts,” Kincaid said. “It’s never gone from our minds.”

Anyone with information about the Ed Nichols case is urged to contact the Boone County Sheriff’s Office at (859) 334-2175.

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