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Kentucky family still hoping for arrest in restaurant owner's slaying after 18 years

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SHARPE, Kentucky — When it comes to degrees of cold cases, Kentucky State Trooper Dean Patterson considers the death of Bobbi Holman Williams among the warmer ones.

Patterson told The Paducah Sun (http://bit.ly/1mMhWuw) investigators are exploring several recent leads in Holman Williams' death 18 years ago in Benton.

"Over the past 18 months we have received information that has seemed promising, and we are still following up on that information," Patterson said.

Neil Williams found the 35-year-old Holman Williams, his estranged wife, dead on July 16, 1996, in the bathroom of her home in Sharpe in Marshall County in western Kentucky. Police said she had been strangled and suffered blunt trauma to the head. Holman Williams and other family members owned and operated the Holman House in Paducah.

While the case has taken twists and turns over the years, no one has ever been charged with or convicted of killing Holman Williams.

Family members 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.

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, Illinois, to carry out the crime. Buford also was convicted of criminal conspiracy to commit murder and given a 10-year sentence.

Prosecutors said 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.


Information from: The Paducah Sun, http://www.paducahsun.com

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