Too Close to Home: The Tragic Case of Jessica Dishon

This is a synopsis of the case, meaning it will include details and themes that may be sensitive to some readers.
The picture above is a missing persons flyer from 1999. The picture was printed and posted from when Jessica Dishon went missing. I love and miss you so much.. I miss spending the night with you and just being carefree kids. Rest in peace Jessica Dawn Dishon, Michelle Eddington, a friend of Jessicas said.
The picture above is a missing persons flyer from 1999. The picture was printed and posted from when Jessica Dishon went missing. “I love and miss you so much.. I miss spending the night with you and just being carefree kids. Rest in peace Jessica Dawn Dishon,” Michelle Eddington, a friend of Jessica’s said.
The Initial Disappearance
Jessica’s brand new Pontiac she was taken from. (WDRB News)

According to just about any Mt. Washington citizen, the city’s safety is unmatched. Not much happens in this white-collar suburbia, making it one of the safest places in Kentucky to be. We’re surrounded by higher crime areas, such as Louisville, Shepherdsville, Bardstown, etc., though we still maintain our peaceful prowess. Clearly, things were different in the 90s.

This week, 24 years ago, on Sept. 10, a girl was taken from this world far too soon.

“We thought moving out of Louisville, we’d feel safe. Can’t trust anymore.” Imogene Curry, Shepherdsville resident, said to the Courier-Journal on Sept. 29, 1999. 

It was a normal Friday for the Dishon family, at their house on Deatsville Road in Shepherdsville, Kentucky on Sept. 10, 1999; Edna and Mike Dishon had already left for work, and their two boys, Christopher and Michael Dishon got on the school bus and left for Bernheim Middle School. 17-year-old Jessica Dishon, the oldest child, gathered her belongings and headed out to her brand new red Pontiac she had just bought with money she made at her job at Hardee’s.

At about 1:30 p.m., Edna came home first from work. She immediately noticed Jessica’s car still in the driveway. Upon further inspection, the car held Jessica’s backpack, work clothes, purse, one of her shoes on the driver’s side floor, and her phone on the seat. What worry Edna felt immensely arose when she noticed Jessica’s phone had dialed, “91”. Panic set in, and Edna began frantically searching for her daughter.

Michael was the second one to come home to the site. “I thought maybe she went with a friend, but after hours passed and everything, you start getting very nervous and stuff,” Michael said to the Courier-Journal.

Police Turn a Blind Eye
Another missing poster police put out to find Jessica when they still believed her to be a runaway. (WDRB News)

When Mike came home from work, the parents called the school to ask if she had shown up that day. Upon denying her appearance, Edna and Mike turned to the Bullitt County Police Department. When Mike Dishon called, Deputy David Greenwell answered, later reaching out to Detective Charles Mann on two separate occasions, asking for assistance with the issue. In both instances, Mann refused to go. “The teen was just a runway. She’d be back.” Mann said.

When the police weren’t doing enough, Mike brought in the FBI to help. They gathered a search party and began to look for her. Around this time, Mt. Washington and Shepherdsville, for a first, felt dread. “It was just about the first time I had heard anything this bad happening in Mt. Washington.” Vivian Sullivan, a long-time Mt. Washington resident said.

Around this time, The Dishon’s next-door neighbors, the Brooks brothers, were acting off. They harassed the Dishons over the phone, saying “Please don’t kill me! Please don’t kill me!”. When first questioned about their location at the time of the murder, one of the brothers, Bucky, said that he saw her that morning. The police didn’t have much to go off of, and Bucky was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Therefore, he was taken into custody.

Discovering the Body
Both images clipped from an article from Wed, Sept. 29, 1999. (Left) FBI agents discovering Jessica’s body. Image taken by Travis Doster. (Right) The location of her body in the context of her home and the city. Graphic by Wes Kendall. (Courier-Journal)

On Sept. 27, 1999, Jessica’s body was discovered. About 60-90 feet off Greenwell Ford Road, in the River Bottoms, bus driver Karen Hobbs saw a figure lying in the grass. Edna went to the site to confirm the body was Jessica’s, and they examined it further. The body had fingers missing, and a broken jaw. Autopsy reports showed she had been kept for multiple days leading up to her death.

“Police also determined her body had been moved about 15 feet to where it was visible from the road, possibly up to 18 hours before the discovery.” Bailey Loosemore, Courier-Journal writer said. This information made people realize that whoever had killed Jessica, wanted her to be found.

Upon questioning Bucky, he claimed he was working on his family’s farm and saw Jessica get into her car that morning. He later changed his story, claiming that he didn’t see her at all. Bucky was hooked up to a polygraph test, which he failed tremendously. With no alibi, a failed polygraph, and his ever-changing story, Bucky was charged with the kidnapping and murder of Jessica. 

The date of the trial came on Jan. 29, 2003, and tensions rose. Members of the family, especially Mike Dishon, were convinced this was the man who killed Jessica. When it came time for trial, the detective at the time, Charles Mann, testified in court that the main reason they had Bucky as the primary suspect was because he failed his polygraph test. For those who are unaware, a polygraph test can be taken, but you cannot use it in court as a defense. Therefore, the trial was dismissed as a mistrial. Mann had also presented spotty evidence that was mostly circumstantial. It’s important to mention something that a lot of people didn’t focus on; Bucky had an IQ of only 61. The average IQ of an adult male is 85-114. Looking back at the footage of Bucky’s questioning, many of his answers were heavily swayed, making a seemingly forced confession from the man.

Things Begin to Add Up
The bedsheet found in the barn, and missing from Jessica’s bed. (WDRB News)

Detective Lynn Hunt, who specialized in cold cases, decided to take on the case. She chose to focus on a new primary suspect; James Coulter, a drug dealer of Jessica’s. However, when it was revealed that Coulter had an alibi, the focus left him. Though, some speculate he or another dealer may have had something to do with her death. 

On Sept. 30, 2013, a prisoner from the Kentucky State Penitentiary informed Hunt of a potential lead. Upon the interview with said inmate, he claimed to be in a cell with someone who took claim over Jessica’s murder. The informant stated that the man said he had Jessica for a couple of days, and then he took her life. The reason he mutilated her body was to try and make it look like some drug dealers or the mafia maimed her. The man was upset with her because she started a relationship with a boy her own age. The man continually called Jessica and her boyfriend obscenities, whilst referring to them. He claimed that the man in question was Jessica’s uncle, Stanley Dishon.

Though the prisoner gave substantial information, informants are not always trustworthy. It’s simply word of mouth of a man who believes he may get time knocked off his sentence. However, with this man, he got no time off his sentence and claimed he just wanted to do the right thing. The only piece of evidence that Hunt believed she could find to back it all up, was the claim that some of her personal belongings were hidden under a fallen tree in the area where she was killed.

Hunt and one of Jessica’s brothers, Michael, went searching. After quite a large amount of digging (potentially 175 holes), and 6 or 7 hours later in the pouring down rain, they gave up on looking for buried evidence. They stopped at a barn where Michael knew they used to party. There were a few buildings there, and they searched the first with minimal lighting. In it, they found material that resembled Jessica’s bed sheet. Upon returning to the Dishon house, they noticed that the sheet on her bed was not there.

It made even more sense that Stanley would have been able to pull this off, considering that he knew the layout of the Dishon house. “Through interviews, Hunt pieced together where Stanley was living from the time he was a teenager through his arrest in 2002 and found that he jumped between siblings’ homes, abusing many of their children. According to a timeline Hunt established, Stanley lived in Mike’s home with Jessica from 1989 to about 1996. The inmate who spoke with police said Stanley allegedly had a relationship with Jessica during that time.” Bailey Loosemore, Courier-Journal writer said.

To further back up the claims, Stanley exhibited odd behaviors during the initial disappearance. During the first morning of the search, when they got to a mile from where the body was, Stanley became physically ill. Stanley’s then-wife, Carol Ann Walters pointed out that he had taken a sudden interest in watching the television, and struggled with sleep before and after Jessica’s disappearance.

The family could hardly believe it was Stanley who would do something like that. Michael said that if Stanley had done it, he deserved the death penalty. Through the investigation, they discovered more of Stanley’s victims. They met with one, and when asked what Stanley had done to her, she stood up and passed out. His victims included 3 more of his family members. He was on trial for multiple counts of sexual assault of several different victims, Jessica Dishon’s murder and rape, as well as multiple accounts of incest. 

No Justice
(Top) Clipped from a WDRB News article, family portrait of the Dishon family. (2nd down) Clipped from a WDRB News article, memorial for Jessica. (3rd down) Clipped from a WDRB News article, Jessica’s diploma from BCHS. (Bottom) Clipped from a Courier-Journal article from Wed, Sept. 29, 1999. (WDRB News)

In addition to Jessica’s assault, Stanley’s list of victims includes: A female relative who was abused in two separate time frames (at one point she was 6-9, the other she was around 15-20 years old) a 7-year-old female relative, a 9-10 year-old boy, a 7-10 year-old girl, and another 6-8 year-old girl.

He chose to take an Alford plea (a type of guilty plea you can take meaning you don’t exactly admit to committing the crime, but agree that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict you) and be done with the case. Stanley Dishon pled guilty to 4 counts of sexual assault, in addition to the “manslaughter” of Jessica Dishon. Because of the plea agreement, he only received a 20-year sentence with parole. Stanley is expected to be released from prison on Aug. 31, 2033, though he could be released as early as Dec. 31, 2028 (5 years from now).

Even to this day, Stanley refuses to admit that he murdered Jessica to anyone who’ll listen. “I’ve been wrongfully convicted and put into prison. … I did not kill Jessica Dawn Dishon. I never had nothing to do with that,” Stanley said. “I don’t understand the law, I don’t understand how the law even works,” Stanley said. “I don’t care what you got. I did not do anything to harm my niece. I know that. … I did not murder my niece. I am innocent,” Stanley said.

Hunt later found a letter from a second prisoner informant in 2002. This informant was in the same cell as Stanley, when he admitted to the murder of his niece, explaining that he dumped the body in the River Bottoms. The case should have been solved a lot sooner, considering both the Commonwealth Attorney and the Sheriff’s office had copies of this letter, and didn’t do anything with it. All of this took place during the trial of Bucky Brooks. Though this could have helped along the case a lot sooner, DNA evidence had by that time been tampered with, and there was no real way of knowing that Stanley committed the murder. 

This case may seem to have a happy ending, but we are still left on a cliffhanger. Both parents, Edna and Mike, believe Stanley was the one to kill their daughter. “I look at it this way, if he was innocent … he should have never took a plea bargain,” Mike said. “If you did not do it, or you was not involved with it, you are going to fight for your innocence,” Mike said. Interestingly, both agree that there was more to it than just Stanley, arguing that it would have taken at least two people to have moved her body. “I think Stanley did it, my mind’s not going to change about that, but if there are other people involved, they don’t need to be out there on the streets,” Edna said.

It’s important to remember the girl at the center of this case; Jessica was a senior in high school at Bullitt Central. She had a job, friends, and passions. Jessica wanted to study culinary arts and enjoyed cooking for her family. “Sometimes it was stuff you really couldn’t eat,” Michael told Courier-Journal news.

“This isn’t justice,” Edna said to Cold Case Files.

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    Shelia Metcalfe-FarmerMay 11, 2024 at 9:01 am