'Someone knows something'

Donald 'Donnie' Saylor, 18, was killed in 1987. His case remains unsolved. 

After 33 years, the family of Donald 'Donnie' Saylor Jr. are still waiting for answers and ultimately -- resolution in the investigation of his murder.

Saylor's sister, Raylene Wright, will never forget the day she learned her brother had been murdered.

It was Jan. 30, 1987, and 12-year-old Wright was sitting at the dinner table when her family got the call from her biological father and was told she would never see her brother again.

For her mother, Loretta Wilson, it was the first time she had come down the stairs in months after a life threatening injury of her own.

"It was devastating," Wright said thinking back to the news of her brother's murder. "When (my dad) got on the phone, he said, 'They found Don's body.'"

Perplexed at what her ex-husband said, Wilson recalled saying, "Why would you say something like that? That could seriously happen, and he said, 'Well it did. They found him.'"

Wilson fainted at the news.

Saylor, who was just 18-years-old, was found shot to death in a field on Muddy Creek Road.

According to the family, he was found by an EKU security officer in the Central Kentucky Wildlife Management area with 15 cents in his blue-jean pockets, and a few Kool's brand cigarettes. Saylor was residing at Lisa Ann Court at the time of his death.

"It wasn't even what he smoked, it was Kool's and he smoked Marlboro's," his mother protested.

Police believe Saylor was killed elsewhere and his body dumped in the wildlife area about eight-and-a-half miles south of Richmond, according to an article published Feb. 2, 1987, in the Richmond Register.

Saylor was killed by a small caliber weapon and had been shot in the head and chest.

Around the time of his death, Saylor had been staying in the Dixie Trailer Park with two other women, one of whom is now deceased. Several people residing in the area were questioned over the years -- investigators hoping for any valid information of who may have killed Saylor.

Now, in 2020, the family is still trying to get the word out about their loved one, in hopes someone will come forward with information which could solve the murder of Saylor.

The investigation -- which yields little evidence according to Wright -- has been passed down through countless detectives over the years.

But there is still hope, Wright said, with a new detective on the case.

Saylor's case is now being investigated by Detective Luther VanHoose of Kentucky State Police, and Wright feels things are headed in a good direction.

"This new detective is working really hard, he really wants to solve this case," Wright said. "I cannot count the amount of detectives we have went through in 33 years, but Detective VanHoose thinks it can be solved."

In fact, the detective has several scenarios he is actively pursuing.

Two, he stated, would mean someone was mistaken in their previous testimony given to authorities regarding the night before Saylor's body was found.

The third theory VanHoose has entertained, is that the murder was a random act.

"Someone could have seen him on the side of the road and said, 'Hey, I have been looking for him,' and it could have happened that way," he said. "If that is the case, and this was random, it will be really hard."

For Saylor, who had a history of a violent temper and was known for womanizing according to his family -- the scenario could be entirely plausible.

However, with so many years having passed since his death, leads and information have been hard to come by.

People who knew Saylor, or what might have happened to him, have moved or passed away -- which VanHoose said complicates the case.

However, the lapsed time could also be an advantage, according to VanHoose, and could pave the way for the break he needs.

"...Someone knows something," he said. "The fact of the matter is, there is somebody that was in that trailer park, or knows Donald, that was scared to talk back in '87. People have done a lot of growing up, changing lifestyles and stuff like that since '87.

"I am just hoping that this is a request to contact KSP and give us what you know," he said. "It might be that little tidbit of something that I have been looking for to knock these other theories out of the way."

It is both the goal of the detective and the family to keep spreading the word about Saylor, in hopes someone will come forward -- unburdened by what may have been going on in 1987.

Now, an adult woman and mother herself, Wright has created a Facebook group titled "Cold case involving Donald Saylor Jr.," so people do not forget.

"I need people to see this case and know I'm not letting this go," she posted. "I need closure. Our dad had passed but our mom thinks about her boy she lost everyday. I know people in Richmond, Ky know what happened. Thank you for looking at our group. Everyone share away far and wide. The farther we get the more people will see this."

If anyone has any information about the murder of Donald Saylor Jr., please contact KSP at 859-623-2404 or visit www.kentuckystatepolice.org.

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