Investigators looking into possible link between Stephenson murders and Delphi case

Boone County investigators were recently in northern Indiana looking into the tip.
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 10:48 PM EST
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BOONE COUNTY, KY (WXIX) - One of Boone County’s most horrific killings remains unsolved nearly 12 years later, but the detectives working the Stephenson case are leaving no stone unturned.

In recent months, their investigation has even led them to Indiana to look into a possible connection to the highly publicized Delphi double murders.

Detective Coy Cox and his partner, Tim Adams, make up the Boone County Sheriff’s Office’s Cold Case Unit. However, they say the murders of Bill and Peggy Stephenson are far from cold.

The Stephensons, both 74, were found dead inside their Boone County home on May 29, 2011. A concerned family member found them when they did not show up for church.

“It was a very complex, brutal, disturbing crime scene. We think it was, you know, a very quick surprise attack,” Cox said. “There was some blunt force trauma.”

When Cox and Adams were sent to the scene that day, they discovered the house had been altered and the bodies had been staged. Whoever killed the couple had not taken off right away.

“There were things that were done to their bodies that, that was horrific... They changed several things in the scene, which is really, really unusual for any murder scene anywhere in the country or in the world,” Cox said. “There was quite a bit of time that the perpetrators, the killers, stayed in the residence or felt comfortable coming back to the scene.”

In general, detectives believe that kind of behavior points to a suspect who knows the victims, and Bill and Peggy Stephenson were loved by many people.

“They were amazing people, good Christian people,” Cox said. “They wanted to share their faith and their love with the community.”

Bill and Peggy’s daughter, Beth Stephenson-Victor, called it a scary situation.

“It’s pretty bad that somebody could stay, that they could stage something, and stay with bodies like that for, you know, multiple hours. It’s pretty sick,” she said. “You were constantly looking over your shoulder, and just up until about three years ago, my front blinds never opened. Just within the last three years, I’ve been able to sit with the blinds open.”

Beth described her parents as devoted churchgoers, a couple who loved their big family. Beth called her mother, Peggy, the quiet one and said she was an experienced and talented musician.

“[She] played for many weddings, funerals, played for a couple of the grandkids’ weddings,” Beth said. “She loved to play the organ. she played the piano too.”

Bill was the opposite in that he was often called the life of the party. As a man heavily involved in ministry, he shared his faith with truck drivers every Sunday at a truck stop in Florence.

“They had a trailer out, that they would open up during the week, and if truckers wanted to stop in and pray, they would pray with them,” Beth said.

That connection to the community became a possible lead for detectives. Over the years, they have interviewed quite a few truck drivers.

“Early on in the investigation, we had information that someone had been at the truck stop, looking for Bill pretty aggressively, banging on the door to the chapel, asking if anyone had seen Bill,” Cox said.

There are truckers they have ruled out, while some are still on their radar.

They have also looked into Charles “Stevie” Stephenson, who is the nephew of Bill and Peggy. Detective Cox said they have even spoken to him recently.

Stevie is currently serving a sentence of life in prison for beating an Indiana woman to death with a skillet.

“We feel pretty comfortable that that’s in a good place. There is no final statement on there. [It] isn’t that he’s been cleared, but we have certainly vetted him in every way possible,” Cox said.

One of the largest developments in the case could still bring them the break they need to close it. Cox says they have an unknown DNA profile.

“We don’t know who that DNA belongs to, and it was found at our crime scene,” he said.

It is complex, so genealogy is not an option right now. However, they are waiting on results from the lab to see if DNA from two truck drivers matches the unknown profile found at the crime scene.

“We have two gentlemen that are in the trucking profession that we have collected DNA from, and we are awaiting a response back from the Kentucky State Police lab,” Cox said.

In November 2022, a tip led them to Indiana.

“We had received some information from an individual regarding the Delphi murders in Indiana, and they had said, ‘For all of these reasons, we believe it may be the same person that was involved in the Stephenson case,’” Cox said.

Right away, detectives say they started looking into a possible connection between Bill and Peggy’s 2011 murder and the murders of Abby Williams and Libby German in Delphi, Indiana in 2017.

“There’s things that will make you really interested in a case, simply more than just somebody saying, ‘Hey, we we think this person might have been involved.’ But we had a little piece of information that really made that case specifically interesting to us,” Cox said.

The information pointed Boone County investigators toward a specific person who had a specific item they were interested in.

“I’m not going to tell you about what that item was,” Cox said. “We’ve recently been in the northern part of Indiana, investigating this guy, following him around, looking for things, collecting all of the information and evidence that we would need to at least vet him as best we could with our case. He was cooperative... We were able to go down that path with him, and he articulated good reason to why that [item] may have existed.”

Cox said they sent what they found to Indiana State Police, since that is the agency handling Abby and Libby’s murder case.

To be clear, Cox says their investigation into a potential link between the two cases did not include Richard Allen. When Boone County detectives were in Delphi, Allen was already in jail, where he has been since October 2022, accused in the murders of Abby and Libby.

“We received information from Indiana as it related to some persons and we forwarded that to them... We did not send them the information that led them to Richard Allen. We sent them information that may have had some parallel consistencies with where they are with that case right now,” Cox said. “I know that sounds a little cloak and dagger, but I’m just sorry about that. We’re not getting farther with that.”

The developments have Cox feeling hopeful. As someone who has been on the case since day one, it feels personal.

“That’s hard. That’s, that’s on my watch. That’s my case. I want to solve it,” he said. “It’s, I don’t want to say it’s more special, but it’s definitely it’s a very special case, and I’d really like to get it solved, as we would all of them, obviously... but yeah, this one has a little extra tug.”

Beth says she too believes one day they will find peace, justice and healing.

“We’re just still hopeful, just hopeful that they’ll come up with the right evidence that they need, and you know, a confession would be great, but we’re just, we’re still hopeful that they’ll solve it,” Beth said. “Somebody deserves to pay for what they did.”

When talking about all of the latest leads, Detective Cox said they have not ruled anything or anyone out in this case. Even though some leads do not look as likely, they have not eliminated anything completely. He said they have tried as many things as possible, including speaking to mediums.

He confirmed that they do know the Stephensons’ exact time of death because of a medical device that was inside one of them, which could help them pinpoint the killer.

Cox will not say whether they have any specific suspects or people of interest, but he believes whoever did it, committed other crimes.

Anyone with information on this case is urged to call the Boone County Sheriff’s Office at (859) 334-2175. There is a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

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