LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- As Clay County Sheriff James M. "Matt" Sizemore went out to serve warrants on June 1, 1969, southwest of Manchester, Ky., five bullets from a high powered rifle took him down as he stepped out of the car.
Despite an intensive investigation in the foothills of the Appalachians three hours southeast of Louisville, investigators remained stumped as to who pulled the trigger, killing the lawman of seven years.
After more than 40 years, prosecutors on Thursday said they believe the answer has been found. A grand jury in Clay County charged 61-year-old Oran Brumley, a former resident of the area, with murdering Sizemore. He's currently serving prison time in Ohio.
"It was just a tip as to who might be the perpetrator in the crime. Tips have come in on our cold cases ... we always follow up on tips we do get," said Kentucky State Trooper Don Trosper, a spokesman for the London post. "It was a very valid and legitimate tip."
Brumley remained in custody in Ohio on Thursday afternoon. It was unclear when he would be returned to Kentucky to face charges. He had no attorney on the Kentucky charges. Arrangements must be worked out with Ohio for Brumley's return to Kentucky, Clay County Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Gregory said.
The investigation is ongoing and more indictments may be forthcoming. When asked if Brumley had accomplices, Gregory repeated that more indictments may be forthcoming.
"I think you can decipher that," Gregory said.
Former Clay County Sheriff Edd Jordan, who kept the investigation going during his tenure from 1990 through 2006, said it became apparent in the mid-1990s that Brumley and others were involved in Sizemore's death. Jordan said the new information linking Brumley to Sizemore's death is more than enough to solve the case.
"It's solid," said Jordan, who testified before the grand jury Thursday. "He's indicted, great. That's what he needs to be."
When Sizemore, the father of 11 children, died, investigators swept through the county conducting interviews and looking for who shot the sheriff. Brumley was among those interviewed but he wasn't charged at the time.
The shooting shook the rural area, where gunshots aren't uncommon, but the slaying of a sheriff was anything but commonplace.
"It was just a big community event at that time," said Gregory, who was 12-years-old when Sizemore died.
Jordan recalled Sizemore as a stern, but helpful sheriff who was intent on helping people when he could rather than arresting them. Jordan remembered Sizemore giving him warnings and sending him home after catching the then-teenager committing acts of youthful rebellion.
"He'd see me and told me to go home and go home now. He was like my daddy," Jordan said. "I loved the man. I loved his family."
After a while, the case went cold, with tips occasionally flowing into the sheriff's office or state police. But, until between six and eight months ago, none of the tips led anywhere -- in some cases they were nothing more than rumors sweeping through the mountains with no substantiation. Then came the call that led investigators back to Brumley.
Trosper isn't sure what the connection between Brumley and Sizemore was. When asked if Brumley was a colorful local character who would have been familiar to the sheriff, Trosper laughed.
"That's putting it lightly," Trosper said.
Gregory said Sizemore had a role in sending one of Brumley's family members to prison a few years before the shooting and retaliation may have been a motive.
"I think there were some bitter feelings," Gregory told The Associated Press. "He just developed a hatred for the sheriff."
Brumley eventually moved to Hamilton, Ohio, near Cincinnati, not far from the Kentucky-Ohio state line. When investigators wanted to re-interview him, they found Brumley in the Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe, Ohio, where he's serving time after being convicted in 2004 of murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary for a knife attack on an 80-year-old man.
"A tip came through that he may need to be revisited," Trosper said. "It was something to the fact that he needed to be re-interviewed."
Trosper wouldn't say what Brumley told investigators or what evidence surfaced after the interview. But, it was enough to take to prosecutors, who presented the case to a grand jury on Thursday.
"You sometimes start to think nothing will ever become of these cold cases," Gregory said. "Unsolved murders cry out from the grave. Thank goodness that looks like the case here."
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