Elderly man accused of 1980 rape and murder answers to charges Tuesday morning

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- 71-year-old Jerry Weatherford was hunched over, walking slowly and somewhat unsteadily as deputies guided him into a circuit courtroom in Jefferson County Tuesday, to face charges of rape and murder. He awkwardly held his hands, which were in handcuffs.

Cold case homicide detective Kristen Downs says his age and condition should not have an impact on the trial or his stay in jail. “To my knowledge, it's nothing more than corrections normally deals with all the time with inmates,” said Downs.

On August 4, 1980, 87-year-old Harriet Hardy was raped and murdered at her home in Saint Matthews. Police say Weatherford, a family friend, did it. He was 37 at the time. “He was arrested originally in 1980, however, because technology wasn't the same as we have now,  they weren't able to have enough solid information to feel comfortable with going forward with an indictment."

Hair samples collected in 1980 were recently sent off to be analyzed and led to this latest arrest and charges. A man in the courtroom told the judge Weatherford doesn't have anything, and will need a public defender.

A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.

As Weatherford was led out of the courtroom -- you could see him stop--trying to talk to those there to support him.

As for Hardy's family, Downs says it has been tough. “It's (the arrest) opened up a lot of doors that they have had closed for some time. It's a mixture of emotion for them."

Signature Healthcare Of East Louisville, where Weatherford was staying, released a statement saying they will cooperate with authorities and the safety of the residents and staff is their top priority.

Weatherford's next court date is in March.

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