71-year-old man arrested at healthcare facility for Aug. 1980 ra - WDRB 41 Louisville News

71-year-old man arrested at healthcare facility for Aug. 1980 rape, murder

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Harriet Hardy Harriet Hardy
Jerry Lee Weatherford (Source: Louisville Metro Corrections) Jerry Lee Weatherford (Source: Louisville Metro Corrections)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A man has been indicted for raping and murdering an 87-year-old woman more than 34 years ago.

Police tracked down the 71-year-old suspect at an adult care facility on Monday afternoon, crediting good police work back in the 1980s -- and DNA evidence -- for helping them to crack this case.

Jerry Weatherford has been a free man all 71 years of his life. But for more than 34 of those years, police say he's lived with a dark secret, until cold case homicide detective Kristen Downs put handcuffs on him Monday at a healthcare facility in Jeffersontown.

Downs says he wasn't surprised or shocked.

"I wouldn't describe him as either, just pretty flat," she said.

When he was 37 years old, police say he did something horrible: he allegedly raped 87-year-old Harriet Hardy and killed her. Hardy lived alone and used a walker to get around her home on Oxford Place -- a quiet street in Saint Matthews. Weatherford had been a family friend.

On Aug. 4, 1980, Hardy's granddaughter found her dead at her home with bruises.

"You just can't imagine being able to do something like this to someone like that," Downs said. "She's lived a long life and she didn't deserve to have her last years taken like that."

Downs said the case came down to two things: good police work, and a hair sample that could finally be tested.

"We had the funding to send everything off," she said. "The testing finally came back. The detectives on it originally did a fantastic job this is one of the most thorough case files I've ever read."

Weatherford is charged with rape and murder. Downs said it's a development the family has been waiting for for 34 years.

"The best thing is to be able to give closure to that family," Downs said. "To finally, regardless of what the outcome is in court, to finally give them the answers and to give them that closure..."

Signature Healthcare of East Louisville released this statement to WDRB: 

"Reported to us today by the authorities, but this man has no criminal history and this investigation does not concern our facility in any way, rather, this concerns an allegation long before he became a resident at our facility. The safety and well-being of our residents and employees are our top priorities at all times and we will cooperate with legal authorities to the fullest extent."

Brian Mueller, Facility Administrator, adds that officials at the facility will address the issue with any concerned residents or family members.

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