David Alonzo Van Meter is one of those cases you hit upon after an email, a tweet, and then a reader sent an old newspaper clipping. According to the family, his name is Alonzo and not Lonzo. As I have no further documentation, I use the name Alonzo.
This case is unsolved however, I did discover a detail that matters in researching this case.
I have one newspaper clipping from January 3, 1976. It was sent to me by a reader. It is not perfectly sharp but it is reabable. It is posted here in three parts. I am not sure from which newspaper this article comes but as always, as soon as I have more details I update the posts involved, and of course, the database.
The article mentions Det. Charles W. Logsdon, more about him below. From him we know that David Lonzo (not Alonzo, apparently) of Upton, Kentucky, was living a secluded farmer’s life.
He was found dead on Dec 5, 1975 approx. six days after he had been killed by a .22 caliber bullet that hit him in the chest. No suspects were found and there was a huge lack of evidence.
The reclusive lifestyle made it difficult to retrace his steps and make a timeline. I have not found anything about the trajectory, an autopsy, or any follow-up.
His body was discovered by neighbor Roger Knight around 9am on Dec 5, 1975. Knight lives about half a mile away and he was the nearest neighbor. More about this below.
David Alonzo Van Meter was a bachelor. He lived in a modest three-room home on 20 acres. It wasn’t an easily accessible home as it was on a dirt road. His only mode of transportation was his horse Prince on which he often rode into Upton for supplies.
His home did not have electricity, no running water, no telephone, and there were no traces of bills to pay. He bartered for supplies, rented part of his land to another farmer who grew tobacco, and received a monthly Social Security Check. The fact that he didn’t pick up his check was what alerted Knight that something might be wrong. The article does not explain what Knight has to do with Van Meter’s finances. Also, I’d like to know whether Knight and the tobacco farmer were excluded as suspects.
In 1974, Van Meter was the heir to a substantial amount of money. He also made some selling timber. How he inherited is not clear. Apparently, he was robbed then. The theory is that those robbers came back. They found no money and thus killed Van Meter. Who inherits now from Van Meter?
The house was ransacked but because the interior was of rough wood, it was hard in 1975 to get fingerprints. The M-Vac would have been very useful. The rain washed away any traces outside the house. Despite the ransacking, police determined that there was no struggle. The murder weapon was never found.
Van Meter was rumored to own a gun and it is possible that during a defense, he was overpowered and shot with that gun. The article doesn’t confirm that Van Meter’s gun was a .22 caliber. It did state Logsdon saying that nobody had ever seen the gun.
The horse, Prince, was outside at the time of his death. Was the horse taken care off? Did he have food and water? Was he inside the stables or did Van Meter not have a stable for his horse? That seems very unlikely as he was a farmer but we are brainstorming here. The condition and the behavior of the horse should match being left alone for a few days with nothing to eat.
Det. Logsdon hinted in the article to one items that might be a piece of evidence and it was sent to the FBI in Washington, DC. I don’t know what it is.
From Logsdon we know that Van Meter was a harmless person who lived in an isolated part of the country like they did 100 years ago.
Van Meter had two sisters. One of them, Effie Mae Pringle, is quoted in the papers as saying that she wished he lived less secluded. She mentioned that if he lived at a better accessible road she’s be able to stop by more often. Van Meter had been thinking about it, according to her.
Effie was at the crime scene. Everything was scattered around, pictures, letters, and his mattress was on the floor. “His good quilts and blankets were gone.” That is interesting. If they were on the bed that night then they may have been used to wrap around something or, someone thought they might sell them for a good price. What few cooking utensils he had were gone. His clothes were pulled out of the drawers and were on the floor. She said in the paper that his Social Security Card was not found. I assume there was no further action on his account.
Van Meter’s grave
I found the obituary from Van Meter’s mother. The article is from March 28, 1959. It mentions that she lived with her son and passed away after a long illness. Her funeral was at Oak Hill Baptist Church, LaRue County, Kentucky.
I could not find ‘David Alonzo Van Meter’ on the usual websites with grave stones so I checked for his mother, Mrs. Ollie Belle Van Meter. She is buried in the Oak Hill Baptist Cemetery, LaRue County, Kentucky.
According to this website, check the screen shot I made on the left, Ollie Belle Van Meter is buried there. And guess what it states above her name:
Vaneeter, David Lonzo (1904-1975)
What are the odds that a typo was made?
Our David Alonzo Van Meter was 71 years old in 1975 so the year 1904 fits. In the obituaries, his mother’s name is Ollie Belle and in those obituaries one of his sisters is called Effie Mae Pringle, the same name from the newspaper article.
Our victim, David Alonzo Van Meter, could not be found online because of a typo. So I searched again but this time with the typo and here he is, on the Find-A-Grave website. However, I did not find any other newspaper clippings under the adjusted search about his case.
Is it possible that there is a David Lonzo Vaneeter (1904-1975) who is buried near our victim’s mother? Of course, it is always possible. But I think that I found the location of our victim’s burial place.
The article names the people who assisted Det. Logdson: Sheriff RalphBaskett, Deputy Sheriff Ray Copeling, the Hardin County Evidence Collection Unit, Frankfurt and FBI crime labs, and Kentucky State Police Detective Allen F. Johns. The last one was optimistic that the case would break any day but I have not found anything else online. if you have newspaper articles or pictures of David Alonzo Van Meter, please contact me.
There are a lot of questions open in this case. Aside from that, I have not found a lot in newspaper archives yest. The article you see is the only one I have. I did sharpen the image. If you have links to newspaper articles, please let me know. If you take pictures, please place the article or picture flat, be mindful of lights above and behind you (glare), and please don’t crop them.
If you have any information about this case, please call the Hardin County Sheriff at 270-765-5133.
Rest in peace, David Alonzo Van Meter.