Still no sign of Samantha Sperry 7 weeks after disappearance
KALER, KY — With the search for Murray woman Samantha Sperry gaining national attention on Dateline NBC, investigators told Local 6 new details about what may have led up to her disappearance.
She was last seen in Graves County, and Chief Deputy Davant Ramage with the Graves County Sheriff’s Office said the last people who saw the 25-year-old mother of two alive were her boyfriend, Rhen Hendrickson, and his father, Dusty Holder.
Ramage said Hendrickson and Sperry had driven to the home of Hendrickson’s uncle on Tuesday, March 27, in the Kaler area. Holder, who has an apartment on the property, then went four-wheeling with Sperry in the woods, according to accounts from both Hendrickson and Holder.
Meanwhile, Hendrickson told investigators he returned to Murray to spend the night at Sperry’s home.
Holder told deputies that while he and Sperry were four-wheeling in the woods, their vehicle became stuck in a swampy area. So, the two spent the night in the wilderness.
“They left the four-wheeler running because the heat from the engine — it was raining that night — and the heat from the engine, you know, they built a little shelter kind of over that, try to stay warm, put a coat over it, try to stay warm, capture that heat,” said Ramage. “And they also tried to build a fire where they took some of the gasoline out of the tank and tried to get some wet wood burning.”
Ramage said that, by Holder’s account, he and Sperry waited until around 6 the next morning to walk out of the woods. Holder told deputies he and Sperry had to wade in water from knee deep to waist deep, but they eventually made it out near Kentucky 131. A store was nearby.
“Dusty wanted to go to the store, where he can call his brother. They could get a ride. They could then go home, change clothes, and you know, get something to eat,” said Ramage. “He said Samantha did not want to do that, that she said she wanted to go in the opposite direction and indicated that she wanted to go to a family member’s home. That is where they allegedly parted company. Dusty went on to the store and he never saw Samantha again.”
Ramage said both Holder and Hendrickson passed polygraph tests. In addition, Ramage said investigators later found the stuck four-wheeler, as well as evidence of a fire, which supported Holder’s story.
Deputies first became aware of Sperry’s disappearance after receiving a report on March 28 that Hendrickson had disappeared and was possibly suicidal, Ramage said. Hendrickson resurfaced on Sunday, April 1, when he walked up to his uncle’s property. He was dehydrated and suffering from hypothermia, and was taken to a hospital, Ramage added.
Since Sperry’s disappearance, deputies, firefighters, as well as her family and friends, have conducted several searches. Ramage said the sheriff requested a Kentucky State Police helicopter to fly over the area, but the crew could not find anything. Cadaver dogs were brought along during another search.
The latest search was conducted this past weekend by the Symsonia Volunteer Fire Department at Ramage’s request, but there was still no sign of Sperry.
Sperry’s car was found abandoned along Dooms Chapel Road near Symsonia. Ramage said a Murray police officer found blood in Sperry’s home, and investigators also found what appeared to be blood in a car on the property of Hendrickson’s uncle. Ramage said once he receives lab results from those samples, he and his investigators could plan what to do next.
But for now, Ramage said he’s still considering Sperry’s disappearance a missing person case —not a criminal one. Ramage said investigators will continue to look into new leads.
“I would like to assure the Sperry family that at this particular point in the investigation, we have done everything that we can do. We have exhausted all avenues at this particular time that we can,” said Ramage. “We have had two separate conversations with the FBI, and they have assured us that we’ve done everything they would have done at this point.”
Ramage said he sympathizes with what the family is going through.
“We understand their frustration in that they have a missing family member and they are hurt over that, and that they would like to find that person and have some type of closure either way — whether if the person is missing of their own accord and doesn’t wish to be found or even if they are deceased — to be able to bring their remains back or at least give them some answers,” said Ramage. “Because I can only imagine that the not knowing is the worst part.”