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UPDATE: Missing Woman Tentatively Identified as Murder Victim, Investigation Hindered by Law

DSC 0304HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (2/2/12)—At approximately 1pm this afternoon, February 2nd, area officials held a press conference regarding a murder in Hopkins County and revealed that the victim has been tentatively identified as missing 46 year-old Coiltown, KY resident, Sherry Hays (pictured below and to the left).

As reported, the remains of what seem to be Hays were first located within a “shallow grave” in the far south portions of Hopkins County on McKnight Road yesterday evening. Investigators remain at the scene today.

Hopkins County Sheriff Frank Latham - alongside Kentucky State Police Post 2 Trooper Stu Recke, Commonwealth Attorney David Massamore, and Madisonville Police Chief Wade Williams -announced that a married couple who was arrested and charged with complicity to committing murder and tampering with evidence, Joshua and Stephanie Osborne of Coiltown, KY, revealed valuable information relating to the incident during a recent interrogation conducted by the lead investigator on the case, Detective Will Coursey.

MissingHaysIt was confirmed that the Osborne couple had familial ties to Hays and shared a residence with her at 15 Madison Street in Coiltown, but a solid motive or actual cause of death has yet to be released.

After being served with arrest warrants for tampering with physical evidence, Sheriff Latham said that “confessions were reached” with the couple during a line of questioning.

Currently, the continuing investigation stands as a highly cooperative and/or multi-agency effort.

At this time, approximately 13-15 members of several official organizations and law enforcement groups remain at the scene collecting evidence. Organizations involved with the investigation thus far include the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Department, the Kentucky State Police, the Madisonville Police Department, the Hopkins County Coroner’s Office, the State Medical Examiner’s Office, and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

Though a positive ID has yet to be released via the state medical examiner’s office, officials state that the couple admitted to having involvement with Hays’ murder. At this time, officials believe this particular case is wholly unrelated to several other ongoing missing person cases in the area.

While Sheriff Latham said that the couple could have been placed in custody earlier in relation to several drug charges, both he and Attorney Massamore noted that a recent change in state law kept the agency from moving forward.

“We had collected evidence about three weeks ago that, under the old law of incarceration that we had here before the first of the year, would have allowed us to make an arrest on these two subjects and separated them in jail,” says Sheriff Latham. “We would’ve gotten a confession back then, but under the new law, the only thing we could do was write them a citation. It hampered the investigation. To get to this point, we had to back-up and regroup. We had to go back and look at other evidence and collect additional evidence to finally get enough for a felony arrest warrant yesterday for both of them. These are some of the hurdles we’re learning how to get around and get over with the new House Bill law.”

arrested20120202In regard to the lead investigator on the case, HCSD Detective Will “Bear” Coursey, Attorney David Massamore gave especial praise, stating that he had noticed inconsistencies in the Osborne’s stories from the very beginning of the case.

“Detective Coursey’s instincts never wavered and have now born fruit. He was right; his instincts were right on target,” said Massamore. “For his very first missing person investigation, and now homicide, he really did as good a job as you could expect from any person.”

Regarding future legal action, Attorney Massamore stated that the couple is expected to stand before a grand jury later in February.

“We want the public to give us some input,” said Sheriff Latham. “We do have other people missing in our county and the surrounding counties that touch us. We still need information from the public.”

As more information is released regarding this case, look to SurfKY News for the latest updates.

To view the initial report on this case, please click the following link: Suspects Arrested on Murder and Tampering-Related Charges

Luke Short
SurfKY News

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