In June 1976, 16-year-old, Carol Sue Klaber was found brutally murdered in a roadside ditch on Chambers Road in Walton, Kentucky. The Kentucky State Police (KSP) responded to the scene and began their murder investigation at that time. The investigation revealed that Ms. Klaber died as a result of blunt force trauma with evidence of strangulation as well as sexual assault. KSP Detective Jerry Keith worked the investigation for nearly a decade before it went cold.
The Boone County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit was established in 2017 and is comprised of two (2) detectives, Detective Coy Cox and Detective Tim Adams. They adopted Ms. Klaber’s murder investigation that same year. Detectives learned that evidence of the suspects’s DNA was collected in 1976 as well as the suspect’s fingerprints. In the years that followed, Detectives Cox & Adams targeted two (2) credible suspects, however, they were later forensically ruled out.
In September 2022, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office partnered with Othram to determine if advanced forensic DNA testing could help establish an identity for the male suspect or a close relative. With funding provided by Season of Justice, the Kentucky State Police Central Forensic Center sent Othram a DNA extract developed from the 1976 crime scene. Othram scientists used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the unknown suspect. Once the profile was built, Othram’s in-house genealogy team used forensic genetic genealogy to produce investigative leads which were returned to the Boone County Sheriff's Office. In a follow up investigation, detectives were then able to positively identify the suspect.
The suspect is identified as Thomas W. Dunaway originally of Park Hills, Kentucky. He was 19 years old when he brutally murdered Ms. Klaber in 1976. Dunaway developed an extensive and violent criminal history over the years and died in 1990 at the age of 33. The Cold Case Unit met with the Klaber family to notify them of their findings.
Dunaway’s DNA will be entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) for comparison against other unknown profiles.
We are grateful to Season of Justice for providing the funding necessary for Othram to complete the laboratory testing and genetic genealogy.