Amos and Marjorie Yoder are not typical crime victims. The two lived in a quiet community in Guthrie, Kentucky. Settling outside modern society, the Yoders resided in an area filled with Amish and Mennonite families.
"Amish and Mennonites are considered a non resistant kind of people," one Mennonite resident in the community said. "So that's our order...to live a quiet and peaceful life, and that's what we're trying to maintain."
Amos, 79, was a carpenter by trait, known for being a successful businessman. He and his wife Marjorie, 75, were sleeping in their bed when an unknown person stood above them, woke them up, bound them to their bed and beat them during a robbery in 2015.
Marjorie survived the beating, but her husband did not. Why would someone rob the elderly couple? And was the person someone in their community? Police continue to search for answers.
Chapter One | The Call
The small community the Yoders belonged to was not one to call the police over the majority of crimes.
"It's mostly carpenters [and] farmers, and they've been there for years," Rob Austin of Kentucky State Police said. "They keep to themselves. If there is crime within the community it's something they keep inside. They very rarely call for us."
But when the Yoders' son, Enos, came to their house, he found them tied to their bed, bloodied and bruised, Marjorie yelling for help.
Police said they received a call from Enos Yoder at around 8 a.m. on June 28, 2015, saying that someone had broken into his father's house. He told police he believed his father and stepmother were assaulted, and his father was dead. When police arrived, Marjorie was taken straight to the hospital, treated for serious injuries she had sustained that night. Amos was, as the son said, beaten to death.
During initial investigation, police found that an unknown amount of money had been taken from the house, and the place appeared to be ransacked.
"There was stuff that was obviously out of place, documents that were left on the floor, different things that should have been put in drawers, in closets that were out of place," John McGehee, the sergeant reviewing Yoder's murder case, said.
Family members told police that the Yoders always kept the house secure, but when they arrived that morning, the door was wide open. Someone clearly broke in looking for money, police said.
Chapter Two | Recounting the Night
Unlike many unsolved murders, police had a witness who could give them more information on Yoder's death: his wife.
While recovering from her injuries in the hospital, Marjorie told police everything she could remember, still in shock.
"Going back and listening to some of the interviews, you can tell that Ms. Yoder was under a lot of stress," Austin said.
Marjorie told police that around 2 a.m, the Yoders were awoken by a figure dressed in black standing over the bed, screaming at them and demanding money.
Yoder said she did not recognize the person or the voice, but said the person bound her and her husband to the bed, and beat them. Amos, police said, had a hip replacement just days prior to that night. He died due to the injuries he sustained from the assault.
"That just tells me that the perpetrators involved in this hold no boundaries when it comes to violent crime," McGehee said. "It takes a special kind of offender to harm someone that cannot protect themselves."
While she was unable to give any descriptions, the information she provided gave detectives a place to start. Home invasions, MeGehee said, are very rare. Home invasions where people are inside the home, robbed and assaulted are even rarer.
Chapter Three | Finding a Motive
Police said Yoder was known as a successful businessman, and with money missing, the murderer must have known Yoder's wealth.
"I personally believe, after reviewing the case, that they suspected that there would be cash on the premises," McGehee said.
The Amish and Mennonite community has existed in Todd County for years, and Austin said the outside communities are used to them. While they keep to themselves, they do interact with locals for business.
"There is a lot of interaction because the local community members go to the Amish for canned goods, for vegetables, for construction work, so they intermingle regularly," Austin said.
McGehee said they believe the robbery was done by a person, or multiple people, outside the Amish community.
"I think they were looking for money and thought this residence would be quick cash for the perpetrators," McGehee said.
In fact, McGehee said there's a chance the robbers never meant to kill Amos, only take his money.
"Undoubtedly, somebody involved, this has been eating at them. They are not typically capable of killing someone. They didn't intend to kill someone that morning," McGehee said.
Chapter Four | Catching the Criminals
While Marjorie Yoder was unable to identify her husband's killer, police believe they can work to find the criminal(s).
McGehee said the criminals made mistakes that could work in their favor. The blood splatter showed where the perpetrators were at different times, and the messy files showed what they were searching for.
When the crime lab arrived on the scene, they quickly took prints and collected DNA samples that could possibly lead to suspects. Nothing has come back yet, but McGehee said he was optimistic.
"At this point I feel like the greatest chance of solving this case is from some of the prints that were developed from the scene that are currently...being compared to other people already in the system," McGehee said.
McGehee said when police do find the person or persons responsible, he wants to understand why they went after an elderly couple in a quiet community. Did Yoder know the person?
"Whenever we prove who [did] it, and we talk to them and understand why, we may be able to answer some of those questions," McGehee said.
The local Mennonite said that while the community is quiet and peaceful, there are still secrets the rest of society would be shocked to hear.
"We are all human beings and unfortunately, we all have internally our share of complications," the man said, "and if the public actually knew the details, they'd probably be shocked."
Chapter Five | Help Solve My Case
Police are seeking the robbers responsible for Yoder's death. Kentucky State Police asks that if you have information, you call KSP Post 2 in Madisonville at 270-938-3607.
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