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Beyond Bardstown Episode 4: A secret sin

Reporters Shay McAlister and Madison Wade revisit the case of Amos Yoder, an elderly Amish man who was killed in an attack that also left his wife severely injured.

An Amish couple bound and badly beaten, left for dead.

In the middle of the night on June 28, 2015, a dark figure woke up Amos and Marjorie Yoder, demanding money. The elderly couple had no chance. Amos was killed in the assault, Marjorie severely injured. Their case is still unsolved.

When we started UNSOLVED, we asked Kentucky State Police for cases in hopes that a share might shake a stalemate. This was one of the cases police asked us to spotlight in this series.

Breaking the silence in this community would be a challenge but we gladly accepted.

Chapter One | Understanding the Victims 

Before taking the two and half hour road trip past Bowling Green, we started researching Amish and Mennonite culture.

We emailed professors and bloggers that studied and wrote about their quiet, usually peaceful, communities. The group the Yoders belonged to is considered the oldest Amish community in Kentucky, according to Steven Nolt, a professor at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.

"These were Amish who continued to wear plain dress, speak Pennsylvania German, and use horse and buggy transportation, but they were interested in mission and evangelism and had a more open stance toward using technology in the home, given the nickname the 'Electric New Order Amish," Nolt said.

Almost everyone we talked to wasn’t sure about which community the victims belonged, Amish or Mennonite. In search of more information, we reached out to local libraries and the newspaper, the Todd County Standard.

The Standard sent us copies of their coverage of the crime referring to the couple as Mennonite. Police reports called them Amish, so we referred to them as Amish, a more commonly understood concept, for our story.

There are differences between the two groups but in general, they follow a strict interpretation of the scripture.

Chapter Two | The Crime

We met with police, reviewed the details of the case and learned more about the unique community.

Police said they rarely receive calls about crimes in Amish or Mennonite communities, knowing that they often keep to themselves.

"If there is crime within the community, it's something they keep inside," Rob Austin of Kentucky State Police said. "They very rarely call for us."

John McGehee, the officer investigating Yoder's murder, said he believes the killer's motive was to steal money. Yoder was well-known in the community, and people were aware of how successful his business was.

When police arrived, the place was ransacked. Papers were everywhere, clothes were thrown on the floor, the door was wide open. In addition to print found in the house, police were also able to get Marjorie Yoder's account.

"Going back and listening to some of the interviews, you can tell that Ms. Yoder was under a lot of stress," McGehee said. "She was in the hospital whenever they conducted the interviews...she was in a lot of pain, and I believe at the time of the assault that Yoder was 75."

Yoder confirmed that the person was screaming at them, demanding money. With this understanding, and with prints being processed, McGehee said he believes the case could be solved.

Chapter Three | Closed and Contained

Crime is rare in Amish communities. Experts all said there are only a handful of homicides on record.

They have their own school system and society is centered around the church. Police said Amish rarely reach out to them for anything at all.

They interact with outsiders only for employment as carpenters, skilled trades, businessman and farming.

When we arrived in Todd County, the community was wary, but kind to the team. One store owner agreed to talk to us on camera but said he couldn’t be shown.

He explained it is a sin to pose, so he could not be photographed, but kindly explained the cornerstone beliefs of the community.

"Everything like the television and the modern entertainment and news, excuse me, brings to you is loaded with that strife," the man said. "So that's our order the way we understand it, to live a quiet and peaceful life, and that's what we're trying to maintain." 

Their peaceful native brings up even more questions. Who would do such a thing? Police believe the killer, or killers, may not have meant to kill Yoder. Instead, they were just hoping to get money. 

Chapter Four | 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.

Read Amos Yoder's story here.

We're looking into some of Kentucky and Indiana's biggest unsolved cases, and hoping you can help detectives find answers. Visit WHAS11's UNSOLVED series at https://www.whas11.com/unsolved.


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