A link between the Stephenson murders and the Delphi Murders?
WXIX/OONE COUNTY, KY – About 12 years after it occurred, one of Boone County’s most horrifying murders is still unsolved, but the detectives investigating the Stephenson case are not giving up.
Their inquiry has also taken them to Indiana in recent months to investigate a potential connection to the widely publicized Delphi double homicides. The Boone County Sheriff’s Office’s Cold Case Unit is comprised of Detective Coy Cox and his colleague, Tim Adams. They assert that Bill and Peggy Stephenson’s killings were anything but cold, though.
On May 29, 2011, the Stephensons, who were both 74, were discovered dead at their house in Boone County. They were discovered when a worried family member noticed they had missed 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.”
The house had been changed, and the bodies had been staged, according to Cox and Adams, who were dispatched to the location that day. Those responsible for the couple’s murder did not flee 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.”
Detectives typically think that kind of behavior indicates a suspect who is acquainted with the victims, and Bill and Peggy Stephenson were adored by many. “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.”
Detectives typically think that kind of behavior indicates a suspect who is acquainted with the victims, and Bill and Peggy Stephenson were adored by many. “[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.”
In contrast, Bill was frequently referred to as the life of the party. Every Sunday at a Florence truck stop, he shared his faith with truck drivers as a guy deeply committed to service.
“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.
This community involvement turned into a potential lead for the detectives. They have spoken with many truck drivers throughout the years.
“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.
Some trucks have been eliminated, while others are still on their radar.
Charles “Stevie” Stephenson, Bill and Peggy’s nephew, has also been investigated. They’ve even recently spoken with him, according to Detective Cox.
Stevie is currently incarcerated for the rest of his life after killing an Indiana woman 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.
They might still get the break they need to wrap up the case thanks to one of the biggest breakthroughs in the case. They have an unknown Genetic profile, according to Cox.
“We don’t know who that DNA belongs to, and it was found at our crime scene,” he said.
Because of its complexity, genealogy is not currently a possibility. To see if DNA from two truck drivers fits the unidentified profile discovered at the crime scene, they are awaiting lab results.
“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.
Detectives said they immediately began investigating a potential link between the 2011 slayings of Bill and Peggy and the 2017 slayings of Abby Williams and Libby German in Delphi, Indiana.
“There are things that will make you really interested in a case, simply more than just somebody saying, ‘Hey, 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.
Investigators from Boone County were able to find the person who had the precise item they were looking for thanks to the information.
“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 as to why that [item] may have existed.”
Cox claimed that they sent their findings to the Indiana State Police, which is in charge of the investigation into the deaths of Abby and Libby.
To be clear, according to Cox, Richard Allen was not included in their inquiry into a possible connection between the two cases. Allen had already been arrested when Boone County detectives arrived in Delphi; he had been there since October 2022 after being charged with killing 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.”
Cox feels optimistic about the developments. It feels personal to me because I’ve been working on the case from the beginning.
“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 hoping 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.”
Detective Cox stated that despite all of the most recent leads, nothing or anyone has been completely ruled out in this case. Even while certain leads seem less feasible, nothing has been entirely dismissed. He claimed that they had done everything, even talking to mediums.
He affirmed that they do know exactly when the Stephensons passed away thanks to a medical device that was inside one of them and might assist them to identify the murderer.
When asked if there are any specific suspects or persons of interest, Cox declines to comment, but he is confident that whoever did it also committed other crimes.
The motive behind the Stephenson murders is not entirely clear, as Robert William Stephenson has never disclosed a specific reason for his actions. However, it is believed that the murders were motivated by robbery, as some items were stolen from the Cleaver family’s home.
During the trial, evidence was presented that suggested Stephenson and his accomplices had planned to rob the Cleaver family, and that the murders may have been committed to eliminate witnesses. Additionally, there were reports that Stephenson and his associates had been involved in other criminal activities in the area, and that they may have been seeking to eliminate potential threats to their criminal enterprise.
However, it is important to note that the exact motive behind the Stephenson murders may never be fully known, as the perpetrator has not provided a clear explanation for his actions.