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“I know something bad happened;” family fearing the worst as Jill Clayton disappears

Posted at 5:36 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 17:46:21-05

MOREHEAD, Ky. (LEX 18) — Katherine Holbrook knows her sister, Jill Clayton, well enough to know she wouldn’t just fall off the grid for hours, much less days at a time. It has been 12 days now since Jill has been seen or heard from.

“She’s always with her phone, always likes to be at home, so we knew from the get go that something bad happened,” Holbrook said.

Clayton was last seen on Thanksgiving morning with her boyfriend, Gary Jeffries. Holbrook said the couple had been arguing at a neighbor’s home in their Rowan County neighborhood. Their verbal disputes weren’t uncommon, as Sheriff’s Deputies confirmed having received calls about the decibel level of those arguments in the past. Holbrook claimed the relationship was abusive and “volatile” but the Sheriff’s office said no formal domestic abuse charges were ever filed by Clayton.

Family members became concerned when Jeffries arrived for Thanksgiving dinner alone, telling Katherine that Jill stayed home because she wasn’t feeling well. Days later, family members came to check on Jill, and found only her cell phone, purse, keys and the food she had been preparing for that Thanksgiving dinner.

“We have evidence that suggests foul play,” Holbrook said of what the Sheriff’s office has learned. “I can’t tell you what that evidence is but the Sheriff’s office believes foul play was involved."

Jeffries is currently a person of interest in the case, and was recently arrested in Louisville on unrelated charges. Jeffries, who has at least one prior conviction on a felony charge in the state, was questioned by police in connection to the disappearance of Clayton, but Sheriff Matt Sparks said Jeffries hasn’t given them much to go on.

Sparks told LEX 18, that there’s a “remote” chance that Jeffries truly doesn’t know what happened to Clayton, but that doesn’t seem likely.

Detective Donnie Hall with the Rowan County Sheriff’s office is leading the investigation. He said the next several days in the search for Jill are crucial with the holidays coming. He also eluded to the ATV Jeffries had access to, and the topography that surrounds their Rowan County home. It’s expansive, with a lot of hills and cliffs. But Jeffries also took that two-hour drive to Louisville just after Thanksgiving, which widens the search area by a lot.

“If anyone saw him between Morehead and Louisville, maybe at a gas station; anything like that, we need to know,” Holbrook pleaded.