Kentucky Death Row Inmates

Profiles of Kentucky Criminals Sentenced to be Executed

Empty chairs in jury box
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Since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1976, only three people have been executed in Kentucky. The most recent execution was of Marco Allen Chapman, who was sentenced to death in 2005 and killed by lethal injection in 2008 after waiving his right to appeal.

According to the Kentucky Department of Corrections, the following are the inmates currently living on death row in that state.

Ralph Baze

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Ralph Baze
Kentucky Death Row Ralph Baze - 36 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

Ralph Baze was sentenced to death February 4, 1994, in Rowan County for the murder of two police officers.

On January 30, 1992, Deputy Arthur Briscoe went to Baze’s home regarding outstanding warrants from Ohio. He returned with Sheriff Steve Bennett. Baze shot the two police officers with an assault rifle. According to the prosecutor's office, each officer was shot three times in the back. ​One officer was executed with a shot to the back of his head as he tried to crawl away. Baze was arrested the same day in Estill County.

Thomas C. Bowling

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Thomas Bowling
Kentucky Death Row Thomas Bowling - Age 37 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

Thomas C. Bowling was sentenced to death January 4, 1991, in Fayette County for the shooting deaths of Eddie and Tina Early in Lexington, Kentucky. The husband and wife were killed on the morning of April 9, 1990, while sitting in their car prior to opening their family-owned dry cleaning business. The couple's 2-year-old child was wounded.

Bowling rammed the Early's car, then got out and shot all three victims. Bowling went back to his own car but returned to the victims' car to make sure they were dead before he drove away.

Bowling was arrested on April 11, 1990. He was tried and convicted on December 28, 1990, of two counts of murder.

Phillip Brown

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Phillip Brown
Kentucky Death Row Phillip Brown - Age 21 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

In Adair County in 2001, Phillip Brown beat Sherry Bland with a blunt instrument and stabbed her to death in a dispute over a 27-inch color television. He was sentenced to death for the murder and also received 20 years for robbery and burglary charges to be served consecutively for a total of 40 years.

Virginia Caudill

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Virginia Caudill
Kentucky Death Row Virginia Caudill - Age 39 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

On March 15, 1998, Virginia Caudill and accomplice, Jonathon Goforth, entered the home of 73-year-old Lonetta White. After beating White to death, they burglarized her home. Afterward, they placed White's body in the trunk of her own car, drove to a rural area in Fayette County, and set the car on fire. 

Caudill and Goforth were sentenced to death in March of 2000.

Roger Epperson

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Roger Epperson
Kentucky Death Row Roger Epperson - Age 35 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

Roger Epperson was sentenced to death on June 20, 1986, in Letcher County for the murder of Tammy Acker. On the night of August 8, 1985, Epperson and his accomplice, Benny Hodge, entered the Fleming-Neon, Kentucky home of physician Dr. Roscoe J. Acker. They choked Dr. Acker unconscious and stabbed his daughter, Tammy, 12 times with a butcher knife, then proceeded to rob the home of $1.9 million dollars, handguns, and jewelry. Tammy Acker was found dead, a butcher knife stuck through her chest and embedded in the floor.

Epperson was arrested in Florida on August 15, 1985. He received a second death sentence for the murders of Bessie and Edwin Morris in their home in Gray Hawk, Kentucky on June 16, 1985, in which Hodge also participated.

Samuel Fields

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Samuel Fields
Kentucky Death Row Samuel Fields - Age 21 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

On the morning of August 19, 1993, in Floyd County, Samuel Fields entered the home of Bess Horton through a back window. Fields hit Horton on the head and slashed her throat. Horton died as a result of multiple sharp force injuries of the head and neck. The large knife used to slash Horton's throat was found protruding from the area near her right temple. Fields was arrested at the scene.

The case was transferred to Rowan County. Fields was tried and sentenced to death in 1997. That death sentence was reversed on retrial but in January 2004, the death sentence was reinstated.

Robert Foley

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Robert Foley
Kentucky Death Row Robert Foley - Age 21 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

In 1991, Robert Foley shot and killed brothers Rodney and Lynn Vaughn in his own home in Laurel County, Kentucky. At the time of the murders, 10 other adults and five children were present.

Male guests had checked their pistols in a kitchen cabinet, however, Foley kept his .38 Colt snub-nose revolver concealed under his shirt. The men were drinking and a fight broke out between Foley and Rodney Vaughn. Foley knocked Rodney to the floor, pulled his gun, and shot him six times. With multiple gunshot wounds to the left arm and body, Vaughn bled out and died. Foley then shot Lynn Vaughn in the back of the head, killing him as well.

Foley and three accomplices dumped the brothers' bodies in a nearby creek, where they were discovered two days later. Foley was charged with capital murder. After a jury trial, Foley was sentenced to Death on September 2, 1993, in Laurel County.

In 1994, Foley was convicted for the 1989 murders of Kim Bowerstock, Calvin Reynolds, Lillian Contino, and Jerry McMillan. The four victims had recently arrived from Ohio. Foley was angered after reaching the conclusion that Bowerstock had told his parole officer that he was selling drugs.

Foley found Bowerstock and assaulted her. When Reynolds came to her assistance, Foley pulled out his pistol. After shooting Reynolds, he took aim at Bowerstock, Contino, and McMillan. He then returned to Bowerstock to shoot her again in the back of the head. None of the four survived.

Foley relieved his victims of any valuables and then placed their bodies in a septic tank, after which, he covered them with lime and cement. The bodies were not found until two years later. Foley was sentenced to death for the four murders on April 27, 1994, in Madison County, Kentucky.

Fred Furnish

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Fred Furnish
Kentucky Death Row Fred Furnish - Age 30 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

Fred Furnish was sentenced to death on July 8, 1999, in Kenton County for the murder of Ramona Jean Williamson.

On June 25, 1998, Furnish entered Williamson’s Crestview Hills home and strangled her to death. After killing Williamson, Furnish used her debit cards to withdraw money from her bank accounts.

In addition to the murder charges, the jury also found Furnish guilty of robbery, burglary, theft, and receiving stolen money by fraud.

Furnish, who'd already been convicted for theft and burglary multiple times, had spent nearly a dozen years behind bars. Each time he was released, he soon returned to prison for another burglary. By the time he was released in April 1997, he'd hit a prison guard, adding an assault charge to his record.

John Garland

Kentucky Death Row Inmate John Garland
Kentucky Death Row John Garland - Age 30 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

John Garland murdered three people in McCreary County in 1997. Garland, 54 at the time, had been in a relationship with 26-year-old Willa Jean Ferrier. Their relationship ended and Garland suspected she was pregnant by another man.

Garland, along with his son, Roscoe, went to the mobile home where his former girlfriend was hanging out with a male and female friend. He shot all three of them to death.

Roscoe Garland gave a statement to the officers explaining that his father was jealous of Ferrier and angered by the thought of her being involved with other men. Garland's son was the key witness at the trial. Garland was sentenced to death on February 15, 1999.

Randy Haight

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Randy Haight
Kentucky Death Row Randy Haight- Age 33 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

On August 18, 1985, Randy Haight escaped from the Johnson County Jail, along with his girlfriend and another male inmate. At the time, Haight was awaiting trials in three counties. Haight had spent all but two of his 15 adult years in Ohio, Virginia, and Kentucky prisons.

After the escape, Haight stole guns and several cars; he shot at a Kentucky State Police Trooper and was responsible for causing the death of a police officer during a gunfight.

On August 22, 1985, Haight executed a young couple, Patricia Vance and David Omer as they sat inside their car. He shot Omer in the face, chest, shoulder, and back of the head. He shot Vance in the shoulder, temple, the back of the head, and through the eye. Neither victim survived. Height was sentenced to death March 22, 1994, for their murders.

Leif Halvorsen

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Leif Halvorsen
Kentucky Death Row Leif Halvorsen- Age 29 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

On January 13, 1983, in Fayette County, Leif Halvorsen and his accomplice Mitchell Willoughby murdered Jacqueline Green, Joe Norman, and Joey Durham. The teenage girl and the two male victims were executed inside a home they were remodeling.

Halvorsen and Willoughby shot Green eight times in the back of the head. They shot the younger man five times, and the older male three times. All of the victims expired as a result of their wounds.

Leif Halvorsen was sentenced to death on September 15, 1983.

Johnathon Goforth

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Johnathon Goforth
Johnathon Goforth Johnathon Goforth - Age 39 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

On March 15, 1998, Johnathon Goforth and accomplice, Virginia Caudill, entered the home of a 73-year-old Lonetta White and beat her to death.

After killing White, they burglarized her home, then placed her body in the trunk of her own car. After driving to a rural area in Fayette County, they set the car on fire. Goforth and Caudill were sentenced to death in March of 2000.

Benny Hodge

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Benny Hodge
Kentucky Death Row Benny Hodge- Age 34 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

Benny Hodge was sentenced to death June 20, 1986, in Letcher County for the murder of Tammy Acker.

Hodge and his accomplice, Roger Epperson, broke into the Fleming-Neon, Kentucky home of Dr. Roscoe J. Acker on August 8, 1985. They choked Dr. Acker with an electrical cord and stabbed his daughter, Tammy Acker, 12 times with a butcher knife during a robbery that netted them $1.9 million dollars, handguns, and jewelry. Tammy Acker was found dead. The butcher knife stuck through her chest was embedded in the floor. Dr. Acker survived.

Hodge also received a second death sentence on November 22, 1996, for the murder and robbery of Bessie and Edwin Morris in their home in Gray Hawk, Kentucky on June 16, 1985. The victims were found with their hands and feet tied behind them. Bessie Morris was shot twice in the back and succumbed to her wounds. Edwin Morris died as a result of a gunshot wound to his head, two blunt force head injuries, and obstructed breathing resulting from a ligature gag. Roger Epperson, who participated in the murders, received a second death sentence as well.

James Hunt

Kentucky Death Row Inmate James Hunt
Kentucky Death Row James Hunt- Age 56 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

James Hunt shot his estranged wife, Bettina Hunt, in Floyd County in 2004. When the officers arrived at the scene, they found the body of Bettina Hunt with bullet wounds to the arms and multiple wounds to the face. Bettina Hunt was pronounced dead at the scene. Bettina Hunt’s infant granddaughter was in the home at the time of the murder.

When State troopers arrived, initially to check out a one-vehicle accident involving Hunt that had taken place approximately 200 feet from the home, they quickly realized something more serious had happened. After a brief investigation, James Hunt was locked up in the Floyd County Detention Center and charged with murder.

Hunt's trial began on May 15, 2006. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on charges of murder, burglary, burglary in the first degree, and wanton endangerment in the first degree. Hunt, who was sentenced to death on the murder charge on July 28, 2006, agreed to allow the court to sentence him on the remaining charges.

Donald Johnson

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Donald Johnson
Kentucky Death Row Donald Johnson - Age 22 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

Donald Johnson was sentenced to death on October 1, 1997, in Floyd County for the stabbing death of Helen Madden.

Madden’s body was found on November 30, 1989, at the Bright and Clean Laundry in Hazard where she was employed. It was determined that she had also been sexually assaulted.

Johnson was arrested on December 1, 1989, and charged with murder, robbery, and burglary. The sexual assault charge was added later.

David Matthews

Kentucky Death Row Inmate David Matthews
Kentucky Death Row David Matthews - Age 33 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

David Matthews was sentenced to death November 11, 1982, in Jefferson County for the brutal murders of his estranged wife, Mary Matthews, and mother-in-law, Magdalene Cruse, on June 29, 1981, in Louisville, Kentucky. In the process of committing these murders, Matthews also burglarized his wife’s home. He was tried and convicted on October 8, 1982.

William Meece

Kentucky Death Row Inmate William Meece
Kentucky Death Row William Meece - Age 31 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

William Meece burglarized a family's home in Adair County in 2003. On February 26, 2003, he shot and killed Joseph and Elizabeth Wellnitz, and their son, Dennis Wellnitz, in their home in Columbia, Kentucky. Meece was convicted on three counts of murder, burglary in the first degree, and robbery in the first degree. He sentenced to death on November 9, 2006.

John Mills

Kentucky Death Row Inmate John Mills
Kentucky Death Row John Mills - Age 25 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

John Mills was sentenced to death October 18, 1996, in Knox County for the killing of Arthur Phipps at his residence in Smokey Creek, Kentucky.

On August 30, 1995 Mills stabbed Phipps 29 times with a pocket knife and stole a small amount of money. Mills was arrested that same day at his home—which he rented from Phipps, on the same property where the murder occurred.

Brian Moore

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Brian Moore
Kentucky Death Row Brian Moore - Age 22 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

In Jefferson County in 1979, Brian Moore robbed and executed 77-year-old Virgil Harris as he begged for his life. Harris had been on his way to celebrate his 77th birthday with his adult children.

Moore drew a gun on Harris as he returned to his car in a grocery store parking lot. Moore commandeered the car and threw the victim down an embankment several miles away. Moore then shot Harris at point-blank range, hitting Harris in the top of the head, in the face below his right eye, inside his right ear, and behind his right ear. Moore returned hours later to remove a wristwatch from his victim's body. Moore was sentenced to death November 29, 1984

Melvin Lee Parrish

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Melvin Lee Parrish
Kentucky Death Row Melvin Lee Parrish - Age 34 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

On December 5, 1997, Melvin Lee Parrish stabbed and killed Rhonda Allen, along with her 8-year-old son, LaShawn, during an attempted robbery. Rhonda Allen was six-months pregnant at the time. Parrish also stabbed Allen's 5-year-old son nine times. The 5-year-old survived and was able to identify Parrish as the person who'd stabbed his mother and brother to death. Parrish was sentenced to death on February 1, 2001, in Jefferson County.

Parramore Sanborn

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Parramore Sanborn
Kentucky Death Row Parramore Sanborn - Age 38 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

Parramore Sanborn received the death penalty for the 1983 kidnapping, rape, and murder of Barbara Heilman, a mother of nine. Sanborn tore out Hellman's hair, stabbed her nine times, and then dumped her body alongside a country road.

Sanborn was originally tried and found guilty of capital murder on March 8, 1984. He was sentenced to death on March 16, 1984, however, the Kentucky Supreme Court reversed Sanborn’s conviction in June 1988, resulting in a new trial. In October 1989, Sanborn was again found guilty of murder, kidnapping, rape, and sodomy and sentenced to death May 14, 1991.

David Lee Sanders

Kentucky Death Row Inmate David Sanders
Kentucky Death Row David Sanders - Age 27 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

David Lee Sanders shot Jim Brandenburg and Wayne Hatch in the back of the head while robbing a grocery store in Madison County in 1987. One victim died almost instantly, the other died two days later.

Sanders confessed to the executions, as well as to the attempted murder of another grocery clerk, who survived a gunshot wound to the head, one month earlier. Sanders was sentenced to death on June 5, 1987.

Michael St. Clair

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Michael St. Clair
Kentucky Death Row Michael St. Clair - Age 34 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

Michael St. Clair escaped from an Oklahoma jail while awaiting trial for two murder charges. St. Clair carjacked a man in Colorado for his truck and then shot him.

On October 6, 1991, St. Clair was at a rest stop in Bullitt County, Kentucky, where he carjacked Frances C. Brady. After forcing Brady to an isolated area, St. Clair handcuffed him and shot him twice, killing him. St. Clair returned to the rest stop to burn Brady’s car, where he subsequently shot at a state policeman as he was being apprehended.

St. Clair was sentenced to death September 14, 1998, for the murder in Bullitt County. On February 20, 2001, St. Clair received a second death sentence in Hardin County for capital kidnapping charges.

When the Bullitt County death sentence was reversed, St. Clair was remanded in order to conduct a new capital sentencing phase due to the trial court’s erroneous instructions that did not permit the jury to consider a sentence of life without the possibility of probation or parole. In 2005 a new jury sentenced St. Clair to death for the second time for murder. However, in 2005, due to various trial errors, the death sentence for capital kidnapping was reversed and remanded.

Vincent Stopher

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Vincent Stopher
Kentucky Death Row Vincent Stopher - Age 24 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

On March 10, 1997, in Jefferson County, Deputy Sheriff Gregory Hans was dispatched to the home of Vincent and Kathleen Becker. Stopher and Hans got into a fight. Stopher was able to get control of the officer's gun, and shot Hans in the face, killing him. Vincent Stopher was sentenced to death March 23, 1998, in Jefferson County.

Victor D. Taylor

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Victor Taylor
Kentucky Death Row Victor Taylor - Age 24 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

On September 29, 1984, Victor D. Taylor kidnapped, robbed, bound, gagged, and ultimately executed two high school students, Scott Nelson and Richard Stephenson, who’d gotten lost on their way to Louisville, Kentucky football game. Taylor sodomized one of the victims before killing him.

Taylor confessed to four different people that he’d murdered the boys. Personal property belonging to the victims was found in his possession. He was arrested on October 4, 1984, and sentenced to death on May 23, 1986.

William Eugene Thompson

Kentucky Death Row Inmate William Thompson
Kentucky Death Row William Thompson - Age 35 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

William Eugene Thompson was serving a life sentence for a murder for hire that he'd committed in Pike County and was serving out his sentence Lyon County. In 1986, after reporting for work detail, Thompson took a hammer and hit prison guard Fred Cash 12 times in the head, killing him. Thompson dragged Cash's body to a nearby barn, where he took the guard's wallet, keys, and knife. Thompson stole a prison van and drove to a bus station. Police arrested him there on his way to Indiana.

Thompson was convicted and sentenced to death in October 1986. Seven years later, however, the state Supreme Court threw out his conviction and ordered a new trial. After winning a change of venue from Lyon County to Graves County, Thompson entered a plea of guilty on January 12, 1995, to charges of capital murder, robbery in the first degree, and escape in the first degree. Thompson was sentenced to death on March 18, 1998.

Roger Wheeler

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Roger Wheeler
Kentucky Death Row Roger Wheeler - Age 36 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

In Jefferson County, in 1997, while on parole for 10 counts of robbery, Roger Wheeler murdered Nigel Malone and Nairobi Warfield in their apartment. He stabbed Malone nine times and left him to bleed to death. Warfield, who was three months pregnant, was strangled to death and stabbed with scissors. It was later determined by the medical examiner, that Warfield was stabbed post mortem. Wheeler left the scissors embedded in Warfield's neck.

On October 2, 1997, Louisville police discovered the bodies. Detectives on the scene found a blood trail leading from the victims' apartment to the street. Blood samples collected at the scene matched Wheeler's DNA. Wheeler's death sentence was thrown out on technical grounds on appeal but reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.

Karu Gene White

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Karu White
Kentucky Death Row Karu White - Age 21 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

On the evening of February 12, 1979, White and two accomplices entered a Haddix, Kentucky store operated by two elderly men, Charles Gross and Sam Chaney, and an elderly woman, Lula Gross.

White and his accomplices bludgeoned the three shopkeepers to death. They took a billfold containing $7,000, coins, and a handgun. Due to the brutal nature of the fatal beatings, the victims were buried in body bags. Karu Gene White was arrested on July 27, 1979. He was sentenced to death March 29, 1980, in Powell County for the murder of three Breathitt County residents.

Mitchell Willoughby

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Mitchell Willoughby
Kentucky Death Row Mitchell Willoughby - Age 25 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

Mitchell Willoughby was sentenced to death September 15, 1983, in Fayette County for his participation in the execution-style murders of Jackqueline Greene, Joe Norman, and Joey Durham in a Lexington, Kentucky apartment on January 13, 1983. Willoughby and his accomplice, Leif Halvorsen, attempted to dispose of their victims' bodies by throwing them from the Brooklyn Bridge in Jessamine County, Kentucky. Halvorsen was also sentenced to death in connection with the murders.

Gregory Wilson

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Gregory Wilson
Kentucky Death Row Gregory Wilson - Age 31 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

On May 29, 1987, Gregory L. Wilson kidnapped, robbed, raped, and murdered Deborah Pooley in Kenton County. After raping her, despite pleas to spare her life, he strangled Pooley to death. Wilson then took Pooley's credit cards and went on a shopping spree.

Pooley’s body was found weeks later near the Indiana-Illinois border. The date of her death was established by the extent of blowfly maggot development on her body. Wilson, who had previously served an Ohio prison sentence on two counts of rape, was sentenced to death October 31, 1988.

Shawn Windsor

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Shawn Windsor
Kentucky Death Row Shawn Windsor - Age 40 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

In Jefferson County in 2003, Shawn Windsor beat and stabbed his wife, Betty Jean Windsor, and the couple's 8-year old son, Corey Windsor, to death. At the time of the murders, there was a domestic violence order in effect which ordered Windsor to remain at least 500 feet away from his wife and to commit no further acts of domestic violence.

After killing his wife and son, Windsor fled to Nashville, Tennessee in his wife's car, which he left in a hospital parking garage. Nine months later, in July of 2004, Windsor was captured in North Carolina. 

Robert Keith Woodall

Kentucky Death Row Inmate Keith Woodall
Kentucky Death Row Keith Woodall - Age 24 at the time. Death Row Prison Photo

Robert Keith Woodall abducted 16-year-old Sarah Hansen from a local convenience store in Muhlenberg County on January 25, 1997. Hansen had gone to the store to return a video. Woodall took Hansen from the parking lot to a wooded area, where he raped her, slashed her throat, and then dumped Hansen body into Luzerne Lake.

An autopsy later revealed there was water in Hansen’s lungs. The report concluded Hansen died as a result of drowning. She was alive when Woodall threw her into the icy lake.

Woodall was sentenced to death September 4, 1998, in Caldwell County for capital murder, capital kidnapping, and first-degree rape.