Part Five: Daniel Cahoe 

From 2013 to 2016, a series of high-profile crimes shook the region of Bardstown, Kentucky. But predating all of them was a mysterious murder. On January 5th, 2012, Daniel's remains were found in a barn out in rural Spencer County. Police and loved ones had no idea how Daniel had gotten out there - or why he had done so - but his death has left investigators bewildered in the years since... 

From 2013 to 2016, four high-profile criminal investigations shook the region of Bardstown, Kentucky.

In May of 2013, Bardstown Police Officer Jason Ellis was ambushed on his way home from work, and fatally shot multiple times just off of the Bluegrass Parkway. A little over a year later, Kathy and Samantha Netherland - a local educator and her teenage daughter - were murdered inside their home. In July of 2015, a local mother named Crystal Rogers went missing under suspicious circumstances. And in November of 2016, the father of Crystal Rogers - Tommy Ballard - was shot and killed while hunting with his grandson just outside of Bardstown city limits.

In each incident, local and national media organizations rushed to the region to cover these stories, but there would be no resolution for any of them. One by one, the leads began to dry up, and - despite investigators insisting otherwise - these cases seem to have grown cold.

However, these are not the only violent crimes to happen in or around Bardstown. For years, the region has been home to numerous bizarre mysteries, each of which is more confusing and troubling than the last. And tied in to each incident is a group of loved ones left without any answers - who simply want to learn what happened.

This episode is very similar to those that come before it; in fact, it's almost a composite of the various Bardstown stories I've covered so far. But it just so happens to predate all of them - including the ambush of Officer Ellis.

This is the story of Daniel Cahoe.

Daniel Dale Cahoe was born on April 21st, 1977, to his parents Roger Cahoe and Joan Hagan. Daniel happened to be born an identical twin - with his brother also being named Roger (Allen). He would have another brother named Nathaniel.

Daniel - who was nicknamed "Sparky" by those that knew him well - was known to be a bit of a free spirit. Having been born in Bardstown, Kentucky, Daniel grew to love the outdoors, becoming an avid hunter and fisherman.

His love of the outdoors and his simple-minded, free spirit also resulted in Daniel becoming known as a bit of a drifter. He was known to just wander from place to place in search of a good time, but this habit would often result in Daniel staying and/or sleeping wherever he happened to drop. Friends and family recall him - on multiple occasions - just finding some hole to sleep in; even in downtown Bardstown, which is where he was hung around constantly.

Mind you: he wasn't homeless. This was just a weird quirk of his.

Jerry Boone - the namesake of Boone's Butcher Shop - recalls this habit of Daniel's that some might describe as weird:

"As long as he had something over his head, he didn't care. [He] was just a happy-go-lucky kind of guy."

Because of his reputation as a drifter, Daniel never sat in one place for too long. He was always on the go, and this resulted in him working a couple of part-time, on-and-off jobs throughout Bardstown. One of these jobs was at the Smith Brothers Distributing Company, but Daniel was most well-known for working at Boone's Butcher Shop - located just outside of downtown Bardstown. That was where he could usually be found when he wasn't outdoors - doing something.

At Boone's Butcher Shop, Daniel was known for doing all kinds of odd jobs: yard work, landscaping, washing cars, etc. That was, of course, in addition to working inside the shop, helping customers find exactly what it was they wanted or needed.

Daniel had worked at Boone's Butcher Shop for the better part of ten years, where he had become well-known by staff and customers. He was well-liked, and regarded as a good, friendly worker.

During his time working at the butcher shop, Daniel had become friends with Matthew Boone - the son of shop-owner Jerry Boone. Matthew recalled about Daniel, his friend of several years:

"He wouldn't worry about tomorrow until tomorrow. On a nice summer day he would go fishing and go walk in the woods to find stuff, so he wasn't going to be tied down to anywhere too long."

One of the few things that kept Daniel grounded was family.

In 2011, Daniel Cahoe was 34-years-old, and was cemented into his free-spirited, carefree lifestyle. But one of the few things that kept him grounded was his family - in particular, his son, Daniel Jr., who was 10 years old at this point.

On December 24th, 2011 - Christmas Eve - Daniel spent the day with his father, Roger, and his son, Daniel Jr. The three hung out, and everything seemed to be normal. Roger doesn't recall anything seeming out-of-the-ordinary from their usual visits.

Before they said goodbye, Roger and Daniel made some loose plans for the following week (after New Year's). They wanted to go hunting together, and agreed to firm up their plans in the coming days.

When they said goodbye to one another, there was no real sentiment behind it. Roger told Daniel that he'd see him the next day - for Christmas - and Daniel gave his customary farewell:

"I'll see you later."

The next day, Daniel Cahoe was a no-show at holiday gatherings.

He had made plans to visit with a friend and some family throughout the day, but Daniel - perhaps living up to his reputation as a drifter - was a complete no-show.

When he failed to show up for a family gathering, his loved ones began to grow worried. Daniel was known to have a mind of his own, but he was respectful of his family and friends, and wouldn't just fail to show up like that. It wasn't like him.

So, Daniel's family began making attempts to find him. They called his phone, but he wasn't answering - and he didn't seem to be home. His known friends and acquaintances were contacted, but they, too, had no idea where Daniel was. Their only guess was that Daniel had chosen to go off-of-the-grid for a time - perhaps having gone out hunting or fishing, and not telling anyone that he was going to be gone.

Over the next several days, Daniel's loved ones - in particular, his father, Roger - would make repeated attempts to get in-touch with Daniel. Unfortunately, all of these attempts failed, and no trace of Daniel could be found.

A handful of days later - on New Year's Eve - a family emergency shook the Cahoe family.

In the early morning hours of December 31st, 2011, Daniel's twin brother Roger was shot in the stomach. The hostile encounter was described as a domestic dispute between Roger and a woman, which spilled out to include 58-year old Edward O'Bryan, who ultimately pulled the trigger and fired at Daniel's twin brother.

Thankfully, Roger was not killed. He ran to a neighboring house and called for help. When paramedics arrived, they were able to take Roger to Flaget Memorial Hospital, and he was transferred shortly thereafter to the University Hospital in Louisville with a bullet lodged in his liver. There, he was stabilized, treated, and then patched up.

The incident would make local headlines, but - thankfully - was not a big deal. The gunman - 58-year old Bardstown native Edward "Eddie" O'Bryan - was arrested and charged, and the matter was ultimately settled.

However, when loved ones attempted to make contact with Daniel and let him know that his twin brother had just been shot - something that would be major news in any family - he was still nowhere to be found. It had now been several days since Daniel had been seen or heard from by any friends or family, and he wasn't answering his phone or making contact with anyone. His loved ones left multiple voicemails, explaining what had happened to his brother - that he had been shot and was still in the hospital - but it is not believed that Daniel ever heard any of them.

Speaking to the Kentucky Standard, Daniel's father - Roger - stated:

"Right then, we knew something was wrong because he would have been there. But he never showed up."

Spencer County - which is north of Bardstown's Nelson County - is a quiet and rural place. The entire county has a population of approximately 18,000; all of which is spread out throughout the county's nearly-200 square miles.

On January 5th, 2012, a vehicle was driving along the 2000 block of Bowman Lane, a small, one-lane road just barely big enough for a single car. This region, in particular, is pretty bereft of civilization - miles away from the nearest town (Taylorsville), there are homes scattered along Bowman Lane, but they are pretty few and far-in-between.

The vehicle was prepared to round a large curve - where the road became blanketed with thick vegetation - when they passed by a single barn. The barn was (and is) an old, dilapidated shack, surrounded by overgrown shrubs and weeds. Just feet away from the road, the building - which was once a tobacco barn - has been slowly falling apart for years now.

However, as this vehicle drove past the barn, a passenger within saw something. A large gap in the side of the barn revealed what looked like a body.

The police were notified, and soon arrived at the scene. There, they were pointed to the barn - and the body - by the passers-by that had made this discovery. Tamie Atcher, the woman that had made the phone call to police, later told local news station WDRB:

"I still go over it and over it. I didn't know him, I felt bad 'cause I knew he was somebody's family."

The body had no form of identification on it, so the remains were transported to the medical examiner's office in Louisville. There, it was identified as being Daniel Dale Cahoe - the Bardstown man that had gone missing more than a week prior.

An autopsy was performed on Daniel's remains, but the cause of death was evident. He had been shot once in the head - a shot that was not self-inflicted. Police would not reveal any explicit details - such as which direction he had been shot from, or the type of weapon or ammo used - but did state that he appeared to have been shot at "point blank" range.

Police immediately labeled the death as "suspicious," with those that knew Daniel coming to understand that he had been taking out to the barn he was later found in and executed.

Roger Cahoe - Daniel's father - would tell reporters that the night he learned about Daniel's death, he had been at home. He had actually been making phone calls in the hopes of locating Daniel, but - after more than a week - his efforts were becoming more and more vexing.

Roger had been trying to summon the courage to file a missing persons report, and says that - prior to the knock on his door - he had resolved to do so the very next day. Sadly, he no longer had to.

That night, Roger Cahoe wouldn't tell anyone - not even Daniel's ten-year old son, Daniel Jr. That happened the very next day, and Daniel Jr. had a hard time making sense of what had happened. For some time after, he would continue to ask relatives when his father's killer would be found, and they had no answer for him.

Daniel Cahoe's funeral was held at Mann and Greenwell Funeral Home, in his hometown of Bardstown, and his remains were cremated shortly thereafter.

In the following days, Daniel's loved ones would travel out to the barn where he had been found. In an effort that was described as equal parts cathartic and traumatic, they would hang up a photograph of Daniel, hoping to memorialize the spot that Daniel spent his final moments.

The investigation into Daniel Cahoe's death was headed by Kentucky State Police Detective Stephen Spurlock, with assistance from Spencer County Sheriff Buddy Stump. Despite the original description of the case as a "death investigation," Daniel's death was investigated as a homicide - and it was labeled as such.

Police believe that Daniel died on or around January 2nd - roughly three days before his body was found. That gave investigators a rather-broad period of time to work with, since Daniel's loved ones had not seen him in nearly two weeks - since before Christmas 2011. They had already been scouring his known hangouts - and speaking to his known acquaintances - with no luck. Police officials didn't fare any better, in that regard.

Investigators reached out to Daniel's known employers - both the Smith Brothers Distributing Company and Boone's Butcher Shop - and learned that Daniel had not been working during the entire time he was missing. Jerry Boone, of Boone's Butcher Shop, said that Daniel usually dropped in three or four times a week.

"It was just very unusual for him not to come around. It had been two weeks since anyone around here had seen him, which was very unusual."

One of the major facets of the case that investigators would struggle to comprehend was: why was Daniel found all the way out in rural Spencer County? Spencer County neighbors Bardstown's Nelson County to the north, and is even more sylvan and pastoral. It's almost nothing but woods and farmland, especially near the Salt River - where Daniel's body was found.

Daniel was found just off of Bowman Road, which is just a one-lane road used primarily by locals. It's miles away from any real town, and - despite there being some homes and farms nearby - it was isolated enough for Daniel's remains to have been sitting there for several days without being noticed.

There was really no reason for Daniel to be out in that region. It is not believed that he knew anyone in Spencer County; due, in part, to him rarely ever even leaving Nelson County. Besides, he didn't drive, and this location - approximately 15 miles away - means it is very unlikely that he would have or could have gotten there on-foot. At least, not without being noticed by several people.

As far as Daniel's friends and family are concerned, they don't believe that Daniel had ever been out to this neck of the woods, near Taylorsville. If he had gone out there, they say, he would have had to have driven with somebody - likely somebody he knew.

Over the next several months, investigators began to weigh a handful of numerous possibilities.

Since Daniel was known as a bit of a vagabond, who seemed to head out into the woods for days at a time, investigators looked into the possibility that he might have stumbled upon something he shouldn't have. Perhaps, something like a drug deal gone awry... or something like that. The idea is a bit trite - and perhaps overly ascribed in unsolved cases - but in lieu of more solid evidence, it was a worthy lead.

However, it is not believed that investigators found anything of value in that theory. Nor, in the theories that perhaps Daniel had fallen in with the wrong crowd or gotten involved in any kind of major drug activity. Drugs were not believed to have been an issue in Daniel's life; his family knew that he liked to smoke weed from time to time, but that was about it.

The only thing that gave investigators pause was Daniel's willingness to do odd jobs for scattered pay - an attribute that may also be ascribed to drug dealers. However, it is not believed that investigators found any proof of Daniel being a drug dealer, or having anything more than a loose personal connection with local pot dealers.

There was also no evidence that Daniel had "fallen in with the wrong crowd." He was a known drifter - who seemed to wander from place to place without any real direction - but he had kept in touch with his family and friends through Christmas Eve 2011. Perhaps he had finally encountered someone that guided him in a bad direction, but - if so - they had left behind very little trace of themselves in Daniel's life.

One theory that I have - which may be a bit silly, I admit - is the possibility of mistaken identity.

Daniel was an identical twin, and his twin brother - Roger Allen - was pretty close to being a spitting image of him. At the time of Daniel's death, Roger had longer hair, but that was about it. Other than that, they might as well have been the mirror's image of one another.

Both of the brothers happened to be shot just days apart: Roger Allen on New Year's Eve (December 31st, 2011) and Daniel on January 2nd (or thereabouts). The odds of twin brothers being shot so close to one another - in totally separate incidents, miles apart - has to be microscopic.

Despite that, though, investigators don't believe that the incidents are linked at all. Daniel's case would remain unsolved, but Roger Allen's shooter was jailed at the time investigators believe Daniel was killed.

Roger's shooter, 58-year old Edward "Eddie" O'Bryan, was arrested on December 31st and charged with first-degree assault, tampering with physical evidence, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He claimed that he shot Roger Allen Cahoe, after Roger started harassing and arguing his girlfriend. Afterwards, O'Bryan made incriminating remarks to police officers, but alleged that Cahoe had been assaulting his girlfriend; hence him stepping in with a firearm.

Police labeled the issue a "domestic dispute," and it was not believed to be a premeditated incident. Just a bad case of someone having a gun when they shouldn't, and an argument that quickly grew out-of-control. Edward O'Bryan later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault under extreme emotional disturbance, which is only a Class D felony in the state of Kentucky.

It is possible that in the days after this shooting, someone with an ax to grind might have taken it upon themselves to deal with Roger Allen Cahoe or his loved ones. Perhaps, they mistook Daniel for Roger, and things escalated to the point of no return. Or, perhaps, they wanted to deal a blow to the Cahoe family, in an "eye-for-an-eye" fashion. After all, investigators stated their belief that Daniel had met his fate on or around January 2nd - just two days after his twin brother was shot.

There's not a lot of evidence to back this up - especially since Roger Allen's shooting was resolved quickly - but Daniel Cahoe was murdered in a cruel and callous manner. That implies to me that whoever killed him was trying to exact some kind of revenge, and investigators seem to have found nothing to warrant that against 34-year old Daniel.

At the time of Daniel Cahoe's murder, it was an outlier; not because Bardstown was immune from violent crime (spoiler alert: it wasn't and still isn't) but because there was no other specific case to link it to.

As you are undoubtedly already aware, that is no longer the situation. In the years since, multiple high-profile crimes have rocked Bardstown: the ambush of Officer Jason Ellis in May 2013; the murders of Kathy and Samantha Netherland in April 2014; the disappearance of Crystal Rogers in July 2015; and finally, the shooting death of Tommy Ballard in November 2016.

None of these cases seem to be linked to each other - perhaps, other than the latter two, Crystal Rogers and her father, Tommy Ballard. However, investigators have not ruled out the possibility of these cases being connected, stating as recently as October of 2018 that they are still considering the idea and have yet to rule the theory out.

Perhaps there is a slight possibility that Daniel's death is connected to any of them. Police have yet to reveal specific details about their investigation into Daniel's death - such as the type of weapon or ammunition used, if there were any drugs in his system at the time of his death, possible leads or suspects, etc.

It remains possible that Daniel might have been loosely-affiliated with some kind of drug organization, which may tie in to the other cases. He was known for working odd jobs throughout Bardstown, and may have fallen in with the wrong group of people in his final days. Even his family admits that it's a possibility, and police officials have yet to rule out any potential connections to other violent crimes in the region.

To this day, Daniel Cahoe's murder remains unsolved. The case is open and being periodically investigated, but many in the region regard it as a cold case. After all, police have not revealed any specific information - not even a potential motive - and it has now been more than seven years since Daniel was killed.

To Daniel's family, it seems like a resolution is as far away in this case as it was in January of 2012. In fact, his loved ones feel like Daniel's story has been overshadowed in the years since, with the high-profile string of deaths and disappearances that began the following year, with the ambush of Officer Jason Ellis in 2013. They feel like Daniel's case deserves just as much attention.

Roger Cahoe, Daniel's father, stated in a 2015 interview with the Kentucky Standard:

"I know [Daniel's murder] isn't high profile, but he was still a person."

"I just hope that we can find these people who done this. I think they're cowardly people and if they done it to my son they'll do it to somebody else's. They have no remorse for life."

In that same interview, Roger Cahoe gave a message to his son's unknown killer(s):

"I'd ask them, why would you take somebody's life over a little money or something like that? That's if he owed them money. I've heard it was drugs. I've heard it was stealing. But I've never known the boy to take anything. He worked for all kinds of rich people that had money. He stayed in their house and they trusted him. I just don't think he stole anything... But no matter what it was, it wasn't worse than taking someone's life."

Roger Cahoe personally raised a small reward of $5,000, which exists for any information that may lead to an arrest in this case. If you have any information, you are encouraged to make contact with the Kentucky State Police (who can be found online, or given a call at 502-227-2221).

Until such a time, the story of Daniel Cahoe remains unresolved.