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Sarah Jane Kelley

A 79 year old woman's murder is marked one of the most brutal in Covington, KY

  • Last updated: October 27, 2022
  • Covington, KY
  • July 5, 1979

Overview of Sarah Jane Kelley

Tragically, very little information about who Sarah was as a person or her death are available.

Based on her obituary, Sarah was originally from Lincoln County, KY, but was living in Covington, KY at the time of her death. Sarah was one of nine children in her family, totaling 3 brothers and 5 sisters. Sarah had two children and four grandchildren.

Sarah is found murdered in her apartment.

Authorities were called to Sarah’s home in Covington, KY on July 5, 1979 when she failed to attend a regular prayer meeting. When police arrived, Sarah’s body was found inside her second floor apartment. Authorities noted that burglary likely wasn’t the motive in her murder, because $400 in cash along with a $176 Social Security check were found hidden underneath her mattress.

“People will always remember Sarah Kelley. It was very high-profile. And I’ve seen a lot since then, but this is still one of the worst in terms of brutality.” - Covington Police Captain, Steve Wills.

According to authorities, Sarah would often use a butter knife to enter her apartment. This butter knife was usually left on the windowsill of her apartment. Authorities quickly ruled this method of entry out as a possibility for the killer to enter her apartment.

Sarah’s case is revisited at a seminar in Louisville, KY.

In October of 1996, local investigators traveled to Louisville, KY to meet with investigators from across the state of Kentucky and discuss cold cases. Sarah’s case is presented, analyzed, and reviewed, along with physical evidence, with hopes of finding a new clue.

Where the case stands today.

In November of 1996, detectives reenacted Sarah’s murder for Crime Stoppers, which is recorded and aired on television, with hopes of bringing in new information and to raise awareness for her case.

“I have a feeling there are people out there who’ve been told about this. We just have to find them.” - Covington Police Captain, Steve Wills.

Today, more than 43 years later, Sarah’s murder remains unsolved and is still considered a cold case. In 1996, Covington Police Captain Steve Willis expressed his wish to use new DNA technology on old evidence from Sarah’s apartment. If you have any information regarding Sarah’s case, please contact the Covington Police Department at (859) 292-2234.


  1. Date of Death:July 5, 1979
  2. Birthday:November 18, 1901
  3. Age at Incident:77
  4. Gender:Female

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