Thomas Dunaway

On March 8, 2023, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office announced that they had identified Thomas W. Dunaway (b. May 20, 1958) as the lead suspect in the June 4, 1976 rape and murder of 16-year-old Carol Sue Klaber in Walton, Kentucky. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Dunaway.

Klaber was last seen on June 4, 1976 getting into a car described as a Grand Prix or a Monte Carlo with an unknown man with wavy blond hair. Her body was found the next day in a ditch. She had been sexually assaulted and beaten with a tire iron. She died by blunt force trauma.

The FGG investigation was conducted by Othram in partnership with the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, beginning in September of 2022. Funding was provided by Season of Justice. The final confirmation was made through kinship testing with a living child of Dunaway, which confirmed a parent-child match.

Investigators reported that Dunaway lived near Klaber, and he resembled a sketched of the suspect made at the time of her murder. He also drove the type of vehicle that Klaber was seen getting into the day before she was found.

Dunaway passed away in 1990 at the age of 33. He enlisted in the US Army only days after the murder, but then went AWOL. He was later convicted of the December 1976 murder of 19-year-old Ronald Townsend – which took place 6 months after Klaber’s murder. He was released in 1984.

Police have stated that two men had their DNA taken, and were eliminated as suspects. Detective Coy Cox has applied for an order to exhume Dunaway’s body to obtain a DNA sample for entry into CODIS, to determine if he is responsible for any other offences.


Levy, Angenette. “Kentucky Detectives Crack Murder and Rape of Teen in 1976.” Law & Crime, March 8, 2023. Accessed March 8, 2023.

Propper, David. “Kentucky Authorities Name Suspect in 1976 Slaying of 16-year-Old Girl.” New York Post, March 8, 2023. Accessed March 8, 2023.

Vogen, Michael. “Boone County Sheriff’s
Office & Kentucky State Police Partner with Othram to Identify the 1976 Murderer of Carol Klaber.”, March 8, 2023. Accessed March 8, 2023.


First Name Thomas
Last Name Dunaway
Other Names
Victims 1 (Details)
IGG Started 2022-09-00
Case Cleared 2023-03-08
IGG Org Othram


Case ID Name Age Case Opened Location Investigating Org Most Serious Charge Disposition Court
1866 Carol Klaber 16 1976-06-04 Walton, KY Boone CSO Second degree murder Case was cleared by exception due to death of perpetrator n/a

Last updated: February 9, 2024

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Case data and narrative licensed under CC BY 4.0: Dowdeswell, Tracey (2023), “Forensic Genetic Genealogy Project v. 2022”, Mendeley Data, V1, doi: 10.17632/jcycgvhm96.1. All other content, including photos, have been added.