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Vicki Heath’s life was on an upswing.
The 41-year-old mother of two from Hardinsburg, who enjoyed reading romance novels, had recently become engaged, was working and lived in Radcliff.
Then came a phone call her sister, Kathy Johnson, never will forget. Just like that, her sister was gone.
Heath’s body was found Feb. 21, 1987, near a trash bin behind a Super 8 Motel on North Mulberry Street where she worked as a desk clerk. She had been sexually assaulted and shot twice in the head with a .38 caliber handgun.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,’’ said Johnson, who lives in Leitchfield. “I had to tell my parents what happened; I didn’t believe it when it happened.’’
Heath’s killer has never been identified and investigators believe Her murder was the act of a serial rapist/killer.
Three similar assaults that led to two deaths at motels along Interstate 65 have investigators linking them. The assaults occurred in less than a three year stretch from Heath’s murder through 1990.
Two in Indiana were on the same day — March 3, 1989.
In addition to Heath, Mary Margaret Gill was killed at a Days Inn in Merrillville, Ind., and Jeanne Marie Gilbert was killed at a Days Inn in Remington, Ind.
An unidentified woman was raped Jan. 2, 1990, at a Days Inn in Columbus, Ind. She managed to escape during the attack and was able to describe her assailant.
A segment at 9 p.m. Saturday on WDRB-TV called “I-65 murders” will be featured on “America’s Most Wanted: America Fights Back.”
“National exposure will be the key to solving the case,’’ said Elizabethtown Police Detective Clinton Turner. “We’re glad ‘America’s Most Wanted’ has taken an interest in this case.’’
The 24-year anniversary of Heath’s death is Monday. Johnson said the exposure could help lead police to the killer with the aid of a national audience.
“I’m hoping for some answers,’’ she said. “I want to know who it is, not just for me, but for all of the other families who need closure.’’
Turner said investigators have worked various leads over the years, including one recently in California, but so far there have been no arrests.
“Most serial killers don’t stop killing,’’ he said.
Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at (270) 505-1757or at firstname.lastname@example.org.