Though today marks 18 years since the unsolved murder of Holman House restaurant co-owner Bobbi Holman Williams, Kentucky State Police and her family are still seeking justice on her behalf.
According to Kentucky State Police Sgt. Dean Patterson, the homicide is one of the warmer cold cases that state police are investigating.
"Over the past 18 months we have received information that has seemed promising, and we are still following up on that information," Patterson said. Investigators are exploring several recent leads, he added.
Family members, meanwhile, continue to hope for a breakthrough.
"Our family still needs to have closure, and we are thankful that my sister's case is active," said Regina Vaughn, Holman Williams' sister.
On July 16, 1996, Holman Williams, 35, was found dead by her estranged husband, Neil Williams, in the bathroom of her home in Sharpe in Marshall County. She had been strangled and suffered blunt trauma to the head, police said. She and other family members owned and operated the Holman House in Paducah.
In 1999, Neil Williams was convicted of conspiracy to commit the murder of his wife and was sentenced to 12-years in prison. Prosecutors said he paid $50,000 in 1995 to Valva Buford, a hair stylist, who gave the money to Randall Yost of Forest Park, Ill., to carry out the crime. Buford also was convicted of criminal conspiracy to commit murder and given a 10-year sentence.
According to court files, Williams became romantically involved with Kathy Beach after 10 years of marriage to Holman Williams and met Buford through Beach. At Williams' trial, Yost testified that he had no intention of carrying out the murder and accepted the money to rip off Williams. Investigators at the time said there was no evidence that the alleged conspiracy led to her murder.
Yost was later convicted on a federal charge of attempting to extort $100,000 from Williams.
Williams maintained his innocence throughout his conspiracy case and argued that he was set up by two people who cooperated with investigators in an effort to have their sentences reduced for crimes they committed.
Williams claimed they made up the story after he reported to police that Yost attempted to extort $300,000 from him. He said Yost had told him he was a Chicago police officer with evidence that Williams paid money to members of a Chicago motorcycle gang to kill his wife. According to the Department of Corrections, Williams was released from prison in 2006.
The case gained national attention in 2002 after being profiled on "City Confidential" on the A&E channel.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Kentucky State Police Tip Line at 1-877-735-2648 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Andrea Moore, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8684.