GLASGOW – Twenty years ago this week, Greg Fowler was reported by his wife as missing. He has yet to be found.
He had a beard and mustache at the time of his disappearance in June 1999. He was last seen wearing a grey Wildcats t-shirt, tan shorts, white Adidas tennis shoes, and a Redman camouflage cap. He was 44 at the time, 5 feet, 8 inches tall and he weighed 220. His hair was brown and his eyes blue, according to the FBI's Missing Persons page for him.
On June 19, 1999, his wife reported finding, unoccupied, on Barren River the jon boat she had helped him load that morning to go fishing with “some people from work,” according to the FBI page. His van was parked upstream, according to a previous Glasgow Daily Times report.
He was from Park City, but he lived not far across the county line in Warren County in the Smiths Grove vicinity at the time of his disappearance, said Scott Thomerson, who had been a co-worker at Farmers Rural Electric Cooperative Corp. before they became golf buddies and best friends. He said he had last seen him two days before his wife made the missing-person report.
Warren County Sheriff Brett Hightower, new to the role this year, worked for the Bowling Green Police Department at the time, so he definitely remembers the case, he said.
As he is still getting settled and addressing current matters, he said, “we don't have an investigator who's actively working on that on a daily basis.”
Hightower added, though, that if someone has a lead or information that could help with the case, they should contact the Warren County Sheriff's Office.
“We will follow up on any investigative leads that we receive,” the sheriff said. “We would love to follow-up on that information as it pertains to this case. It would be very valuable to bring some closure to family members in this case.”
New leads or not, his goal is to be able, in the next year or two or sooner if staffing permits, to assign an investigator to focus on cases long unsolved.
The plan behind that would be to have a new set of eyes on the evidence or information available and perhaps reinterview some of the same people to see whether anything new emerges.
Several years back, under the previous sheriff, a cold-case squad of a handful of well-experienced law enforcement officers, some retired, from multiple agencies had been established, and members of that group spoke with the Glasgow Daily Times in 2013 about some of the circumstances that also made them suspect Fowler may have been the victim of foul play.
Then-Chief Deputy Tommy Smith with the Warren County Sheriff's Office told the Daily Times then the gear found with Fowler's items was “a bunch of old junk, basically,” and not something you would take fishing with you. He was an established member of the community who would be unlikely to disappear on his own volition, said Smith, who no longer works for the WCSO.
“There was nothing he needed to run from,” Smith told the Daily Times in 2013.
The Daily Times also reached out to the FBI on Thursday for any update that agency by sending an email, as directed, to the spokesperson at the Louisville office. No reply was received as of Monday evening.
Thomerson said the co-workers had hung out the afternoon of the 17th, a Thursday, and Fowler talked about leaving his wife Debra.
The following day, according to a previous interview with Thomerson in 2013, Fowler's stepson called their employer, Farmers RECC, to say Fowler was sick and wouldn't be going to work that day, and Thomerson said he found it unusual that Fowler wouldn't have called himself.
On that Saturday, June 19, 1999, Thomerson went to meet Fowler for golf as planned, but he found only Fowler's brother, who said he hadn't seen Fowler, Thomerson told the Daily Times in 2013. He said he shrugged it off, thinking it was too hot for golf and that perhaps Fowler had changed his mind about leaving his wife, according to the prior report.
Thomerson also told the Daily Times then that Fowler had once told him about a tape containing a conversation between his wife and another man and to look in his work truck for it if anything happened to him. Thomerson said he found the tape and provided it to law enforcement officials without listening to it.
Fowler's niece, Denise Leraaen, who was 22 at the time of the disappearance, said he and his wife had separated a while before he went missing. They'd gotten back together, but “we'd all heard that he was planning to leave her again.”
The wife, more recently
A dozen years after Greg Fowler's disappearance, the Dollar General Store along East Main Street in Horse Cave was destroyed by fire. Debra Fowler Kessinger, who was a manager of the store at the time of the fire, was convicted by a federal jury in November 2014 of arson after a weeklong trial. Testimony during the trial indicated she had “'deliberately set the fire in the store’s break-room, to conceal information about inventory missing from the store and to conceal the theft of money from the store.' The day of the fire the store was to begin an audit process that would have exposed Kessinger,” according to a press release then from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky.
She also was convicted after pleading guilty to bankruptcy fraud and concealment of assets for failing to disclose in a bankruptcy petition “the purchase and possession of property, and the receipt and transfer of life insurance proceeds and retirement benefits of her late husband to the bank accounts of family members and others for her own benefit,” according to that same press release.
Kessinger was sentenced spring 2015 to 72 months in prison plus three years' supervised release for the fire, and she was later ordered to pay to Dollar General and an insurance company a total of more than $980,000 in restitution. Her sentence was an additional six months on the bankruptcy matters.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator website, she is in the custody of Federal Prison Camp Alderson in Alderson, West Virginia. It is a minimum security facility.
Thomerson said he got to know Fowler because the worked together but Fowler stayed on at Farmers RECC after Thomerson left in 1984, and they remained friends.
“He was a deer hunter, easygoing, give-you-the-shirt-off-his-back kind of guy, one of the easiest going guys I've ever run into,” Thomerson said. “I can still hear him laugh, see him smile. He was a special kind of fella. You just don't run into a Greg Fowler every day.”
He said people still ask him about him.
“He's not forgotten.”
Leraaen said her uncle was “a really nice, fun guy, and a lot of people loved him.”
Leraaen and Thomerson say they want the case to stay in people's minds, because they are hoping a new clue will emerge and whatever happened to him will be discovered.
“He would do the same for me,” Thomerson said. “He wouldn't let this lay down and be forgot.” Thomerson said he also wants “whoever did away with him to know he's not forgotten and we're still investigating it. Whoever did it will get caught in my lifetime, I hope.”
Leraaen said, “I just feel like I don't want people to give up. It's been a cold case for a really long time, and we in the family just want to know what happened and have some sort of closure. ... It's just the not knowing what happened and where he's at. You're pretty sure that he's gone, but you still always have that thought in the back of your head is he going to walk in any day now. You don't know, and you just wonder.”