VANCEBURG -- A 30-year-old cold case in Indiana has been closed following the recent death of a Vanceburg resident, according to authorities.
Neldon G. (Kenny) Kinsel, 64, of Vanceburg, was a long-term person of interest in a 1978 homicide that took place in Greendale, Ind. Although Kinsel was never charged with any crimes relating to the case, he was recently subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury as the target of the cold case investigation. However, Kinsel committed suicide on Sunday, April 25, just before the grand jury was scheduled to convene, authorities said.
Kinsel left a note for his wife before taking his own life with a handgun in the yard of his Hazel Road residence around 8:30 a.m., Sunday, Lewis County Sheriff Bill Lewis said. The note made no mention of the homicide investigation or grand jury subpoena, Lewis said.
The body of 28-year-old Pennette (Penny) J. Slayback was found the morning of Aug. 11, 1978, in the back of her home at Weaver Trailer Court in Greendale, Ind., according to a press release issued by the Indiana State Police. Slayback's 8-year-old daughter, Michelle Slayback found her mother around 10 that morning. Penny Slayback had been stabbed to death.
The initial investigation conducted by Indiana authorities revealed Kinsel, then 32, of Vanceburg, had become acquainted with the victim two days prior to her death on Aug. 9, 1978, according to the release. A black four-wheel drive Ford pickup truck with a white toolbox was seen in the parking area of the Slayback home after midnight on Aug. 11, 1978. Kinsel owned a truck with that description at the time. He had also purchased a knife at the Dearborn County Fair, but told investigators he had lost it somewhere in Kentucky. Kinsel further admitted he had been at Slayback's house until just after midnight on Aug. 11, 1978.
The initial investigation yielded primarily circumstantial evidence and investigators and prosecutors felt there wasn't sufficient evidence to secure a conviction at the time. After months of investigation, no further evidence was obtained and the case went cold, according to the release.
The case was reviewed by Indiana State Police in 1998, and the review included a consultation by a forensic pathologist. The review of the initial autopsy helped the pathologist determine the time of death occurred between 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 10, 1978, and 1 a.m. on Aug. 11, 1978, according to the release.
The case was reopened in January 2009, when detectives re-examined evidence and witness statements. The body of Penny Slayback was exhumed and witnesses were re-interviewed. Detectives attempted to re-interview Kinsel who refused to make any statements, according to the release.
"This particular case and one other were the only unsolved homicides in the Versailles District," Sgt. Noel Houze of the Indiana State Police said. "This one had more evidence than the other and was reopened."
Based on the re-examined and new evidence, Dearborn-Ohio County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard proceeded with the case and called for a grand jury investigation. Kinsel, the target of the cold case investigation, was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury, according to the release.
The six-member grand jury would have heard the case and determined if there was sufficient evidence to indict Kinsel on charges related to the homicide, Houze said.
Negangard made the decision to close the investigation after Kinsel's death, as he was the only person of interest and possible suspect in the case, authorities said.
Authorities will hold a press conference today at 10 a.m. at the Greendale Fire Department, which is very close to the homicide site, Houze said. Attorney Negangard, authorities and Michelle Slayback will be present to make the announcement of the closed case.
Graveside services and military rites for Kinsel will be held today at 1 p.m. at Lewis County Memory Gardens in Black Oak. Kinsel leaves behind a wife, two children and four grandchildren.
Contact Melinda Charles at email@example.com or call 606-564-9091, ext. 274.
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