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'It tugs at your heart': Cold case detective determined to solve 2007 cold case homicide

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Posted at 4:47 PM, Nov 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-02 19:12:05-04

(LEX 18) — Alyssa Hughes was just 3 years old when she first appeared on LEX 18 asking for help to find her mom Amanda, who was missing.

The Hughes family last heard from Amanda just after Valentine's Day in 2006. They filed a missing persons report in March 2006.

In October 2007, a hunter scouting hunting locations for the upcoming deer season found Amanda Hughes's skeletal remains on the shoulder of Martha Layne Collins Bluegrass Pkwy in Mercer County.

This week marks 15 years since that day. Alyssa is all grown up, but no closer to learning the truth about what happened to her mom.

"I was wondering why anyone would do that to somebody else and then I'm just thinking the hope that one day we'll know something," Alyssa, now 19 years old, said.

While she seeks answers, she also seeks to know her mother.

"Every night I'd be like so what did she like to do?" Alyssa said. "What's her favorite song and stuff like that."

"She was very mischievous," Amanda's father, Donald Hughes, said. "Always cutting up. Never saw a person she didn't like, and she loved kids."

Donald has helped fill in the gaps for Alyssa while grieving the loss himself. He and his wife, Linda, visit her grave every week. While there, he talks to his little girl.

"That I miss her," Donald said about what he says at Amanda's grave. "I wish she was here and someday I'll see her again."

The Hughes family hopes someone who may not have watched our first story in 2006 is watching this time and that they tell the police what they know.

KSP Post 7 cold case detective Luke VanHoose, who was assigned Amanda's case in 2019, said one person could make the difference in solving this case.

Detective Luke VanHoose

"You might think it's something small but it's each puzzle piece that goes together is what makes the case," VanHoose said.

VanHoose said the passage of time has had its benefits when it comes to his investigation. For example, some people he has interviewed aren't scared to talk anymore.

"They have moved on," he said. "They got a family of their own and they're able to talk about some of the things that they saw that they were afraid to speak of at that time."

The case also has its challenges.

For example, people in Amanda's orbit at the time she was missing who could shed light on the case may have moved away or gotten married and changed their names, making it more difficult to get in touch with them.

There is also a lack of physical evidence in terms of the items found on or near Amanda's body.

"Even some of the physical items that were there have deteriorated as far as fingerprints and things of that nature, DNA being attached to those," he said.

Despite the challenges, VanHoose is determined to find those responsible.

"I got daughter myself and to see this go without any answers for so long, it tugs at your heart," he said.

"Somebody needs to pay," Donald said. "I may never live to see it but hopefully they find him."

Anyone with any information about this case is asked to please contact Det. Vanhoose at (859) 623-2404.