It was a cool, fall, Wednesday night around 9:30 p.m. on November 16th, 1966, when Linda Susan Pierson was last seen cruising along Fairfield Avenue in the passenger seat of a 1957 Chevrolet. She was totally unaware that in a matter of hours she would be brutally raped and murdered. Linda was just eighteen and 2 months shy of her nineteenth birthday when her partially nude body was found on the banks of the Ohio River in Dayton, Kentucky, just a couple miles from downtown Cincinnati.
Her body was discovered by some boys on their way to go fishing just the day after she was last seen alive. She was found wearing only her bra and a sweater that was pulled up around her neck, otherwise she was naked. A coat was thrown over her body and the rest of her clothing items (pants, underwear, shoes) were found nearby.
Kentucky State Police detailed her location at the time, saying she was found about 40 feet north of what was once the intersection of Jackson and Front Streets in Dayton, Kentucky. The area is quite a bit different now than it was a half century ago. Front Street no longer exists as it was removed for flood wall installation and Jackson Street is also long gone as it was renamed for the high school which stands nearby. It is now Greendevil Lane. At the time Linda’s body was found, the area served as a popular “lover’s lane” spot. It was also just two blocks from Linda’s home.
It was determined that Linda had been raped and marks around her neck suggested she was strangled with some type of thin ligature. Investigators also concluded that the murder did not occur at the site where her body was dumped but was committed elsewhere. John Moran, then Dayton police chief, and other officials said the position of the discarded clothing indicated the “possibility” the girl had been killed elsewhere and then carried to the place where her body was found. He also mentioned the wooded area where she was found lacked any signs of struggle.
At the time of Linda’s murder, the Cincinnati Strangler was wreaking havoc throughout the city. Between December 1965 and December 9, 1966, the killer murdered seven women in the area. It was reported that when authorities discovered Linda’s body they wondered if the Strangler was to blame. At the time of her death, the identity of the Cincinnati Strangler was still unknown, it would be in just a matter of weeks that serial killer Posteal Laskey Jr. was arrested for that string of heinous crimes. Authorities quickly ruled out the Cincinnati Strangler in the case of Linda Pierson probably because there were no shortage of suspects much closer to home. Three men were originally questioned in Linda’s murder but investigators quickly honed in on one in particular. The young man who was reportedly seen driving Linda around in the Chevy that night.
Upon questioning, the young man said he had been at home since 4:00 p.m. the night in question. His family backed up his alibi. Interestingly enough, not long after Linda’s murder, several people contacted authorities claiming they had indeed seen the young man driving the Chevy and Linda was in the passenger seat. The young man changed his story and claimed he was indeed with Linda but dropped her off much earlier in town. He agreed to a lie detector test but backed out at the last minute. Years passed and with no real physical evidence – remember this was way before the advent of DNA research – the case went cold.
In 2013, the case got some attention when it was the topic of a local news segment. I’ve linked that news video in the comments below. It’s short, but well done and worth a watch. It mentions the Chevy driver being asked to do a lie detector again, as recently as 2013. But alas, he cancelled at the last minute via an attorney. History repeats itself. The news piece also goes on to say that man claimed he had submitted DNA for testing by the state crime lab – that was also back in 2013. I have been unable to find anything further in regards to this purported DNA test or its outcome. I’ve reached out to the now retired WKRC reporter Deborah Dixon in hopes of getting more information and I’ll update this story new details.
If you have any information on the murder of Linda Pierson please contact Kentucky State Police at 1-800-222-5555.
Cold Case: The Murder of Linda Susan Pierson. Accessed November 17, 2020. http://www.kentuckystatepolice.org
Kentucky Girl Victim of Rape and Strangling. The Cincinnati Enquirer. November 19, 1966.
Schmidt, Jessica. Detectives Looking for New Leads in NKY Cold Case Dating Back to 1966. Wave3 News.
Pierson Murder with Deborah Dixon. Uploaded by KTKvideo (linked in blog comments)