Family searching for answers in 38-year-old murder mystery - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Family searching for answers in 38-year-old murder mystery

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - A family has put up a large reward with the hope that it will help solve a 38-year-old murder mystery.

"She cooked a lot, and we were poor. I often wondered when time come to eat, wonder what mom's going to have on the table today. But whatever she had, she had plenty for everybody," said Catherine Lush, of her late mother, Eva Grant.

Everyone has their favorite memories of a departed loved one.

She was the grandma everybody would want. sweet, soft-spoken," explained Kevin Lush. "You could go visit her and she'd be like, 'I got some chocolate sticks in the freezer,'" he smiled as he recalled. 

"A lot of times I'll think of something I want to ask her, you know, just in my mind. And I'll think, she's not here to answer me. She was a treasure, as good as gold," said Lenora Rooks, of her mother.

Everyone has a happy memory of Eva Grant. The widow was  murdered when she was close to 81 years old, on August 16, 1976. 

"We didn't know what happened," said Catherine Lush. 

"I remember we were, like, why was she taken for an autopsy?" said grandson Kevin.

"(We were) just thinking maybe she had a heart attack. We didn't know until we stopped at the funeral home in Clarkson," said Catherine Lush. "And he (the funeral director) told us what happened. That she was murdered. And that just about done us all in."

"It was probably something you never forget, those words," said Kevin. Eva's grandson, Kevin Lush, was 12 years old when his grandmother was murdered. She had nine children. Only two are left -- sisters Lenora, 94, and Catherine, 85. 

"Something happens with you everyday that reminds you," said Catherine Lush.

Seven of their siblings have passed -- without answers. 

"We all wanted to know -- and I think I know who did it. But I can't, I don't want to get in trouble, I don't have any proof, but it's going to come out," said Catherine Lush. 

The sisters and grandson visited Eva's grave in Peonia, Kentucky in Grayson County recently, with WDRB and Kentucky State Police officers. 

"We look at this just as a family member for us. We are constantly in contact with the family," said Sergeant Kevin Johnson, a detective on the cold case. "You have multiple cases that you're working at all times, but to them, it's their number one priority, and you always have to remember that."

Thirty-eight years after Eva was murdered, Kentucky State Police want closure, too. Eva lived right across the street from St. Anthony's cemetery where she's buried. Her home burned two years after her death. There's a trailer on the property now. The day before she died, all of her family came over for a huge family reunion, but left and went home for the night.

Police believe she was murdered the next morning. It was a Monday morning, on August 16, 1976. 

That's when, Robert Johnson, a milkman, was on another ordinary drive on his milk route. Johnson stopped at Eva Grant's house to deliver her milk, but he soon realized something was not right when he got to the door. 

"Every time I'd stop, she had to get up from her chair and come open the door 'cause it was latched." said Johnson. "I started to go on in. I didn't get all the way in, cause I saw something real bad. You don't see blood running all across the floor and all over the place and not know something happened," he explained.

What Johnson saw has haunted him for years. "Her laying back there kind of looking up at the ceiling. Her teeth was out, blood on the wall, ceiling. Whoever it was, hit her quite a few times," he remembered.

"They went in and beat to death an old lady, 81 years old," said grandson Kevin, sternly. "(She) would've given you anything she had. And they beat her to death. And we're still angry about that."

Police say the motive was likely a robbery. Money and some silver was stolen from the home. They say there was no forced entry. "She would only allow somebody in her residence that she knew," Sgt. Johnson explained.

Nearly 38 years later, investigators are looking for new leads. They have persons of interest. 

"If the public can give us more information, that may be what allows us to solve this case. We just need a little more information. We don't want to be 99 percent sure that this person did it. We want to be 100 percent sure that the person or persons committed this crime," Johnson stated.

Police have sent blood samples and fingerprints to the FBI. This evidence could be used in comparison with persons of interest. They are also asking the FBI for a behavioral analysis "(to) see if they can build a profile of who would've wanted to commit this crime," explained Johnson. 

And there is one more thing that might generate tips: a substantial reward. 

"We want it solved and we're offering a $25,000 reward for the person that will come forward and tell us and help us solve this," Kevin said matter-of-factly. "Just help us. Clear your conscience," he said.

"We're hoping this reward will bring forward somebody. Money talks," said Catherine Lush.

Police also want to refresh memories with photos that were taken the day of the murder. Investigators and family are crowded at the home. In one of the photos an unidentified juvenile can be seen. Police want to find out who that person is. 

"We also have a person that is standing in the front yard in one of the pictures that was taken at the residence," Sgt. Johnson said, adding: "We're hoping that someone maybe knows who this person was back then and can give us some insight. (It) may be relevant, may not be relevant to the case at all, but we're not going to pass up any information on this case."

The family feels close, and is hopeful the right tip could seal the deal. Investigators are tight-lipped about who might be involved. 

"We're staying optimistic that with the right information we can close this case out with an arrest," Johnson said.

But Catherine Lush is convinced. 

"There was a couple times when she was coming out of church and she told me this: 'He almost knocked me down coming down the steps.' And I said, 'Do you think he deliberately did this? She said 'yes,'" Catherine Lush said.

Police won't comment directly about persons of interest in the case. But grandson Kevin shares the same feeling about the same man. "It is a heartless, spineless coward in my opinion that would do that and we think we know who they are. They've moved on with their life, (and are) married with kids," he added.

As the sisters age, time moves closer to 38 years without answers.

Catherine Lush pointed to her grave -- near her mother's, where she will one day rest. Hopefully -- with peace. 

"And I do believe, (though) I might be wrong, but I'll go to my grave thinking it's the same one," she said.

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