Shemwell home, cold case homicide still under investigation
PADUCAH — Out of jail: a woman who had been the center of a cold case homicide investigation is free. Penny Baird Shemwell arrived home after six years in prison.
Six years ago her husband Dr. Frank Shemwell died in a suspicious fire at his home. Penny Shemwell, who was less than half his age, was the focus of a police investigation into his murder but no charges were ever filed.
In July 2006, the 81-year-old Paducah doctor died in a fire inside his home. An autopsy revealed he died from a variety of factors, including smoke inhalation and blunt force trauma.
His wife, Penny Baird Shemwell, had been the center of the homicide investigation but she was never charged in connection to Shemwell's murder.
She was, however, convicted on theft and gun charges and sentenced to 15 years.
Now, she's out of jail after serving six years.
Dr. Shemwell's grandson didn't want to go on camera but said he's not happy Penny Baird Shemwell is free.
The lead investigator on the cold case wouldn't comment on her release but did say even though this case is six years old, it's still being investigated and police won't stop until someone is arrested for the doctor's death.
"I'm home and I'm happy."
Those were the only words Penny Baird Shemwell would say to Local 6 as she arrived home. It's obvious her family members are also glad she's home.
For six years, she was behind bars for theft and gun charges and was the focus of the unsolved homicide investigation of her husband, 81-year-old Frank Shemwell, who died in his home in a fire. Penny Shemwell denied any involvement in his death.
"We still believe that she didn't tell us everything she knew about the situation," said lead investigator, Det. Sgt. Brian Laird with Paducah police.
He wouldn't say if Paducah police plan to speak with Shemwell now that she's free. He also wouldn't comment on her parole but did tell us this cold case won't be forgotten.
"Generally, leads come in fairly often. They may not be very strong leads but any type of information we receive, we follow up on," Laird said.
Over the phone, Dr. Shemwell's grandson made it clear that after six years, he's still grieving his grandfather's death. He hopes someday investigators will solve this case.
"This is and will continue to be an open case until someone is arrested for the death of Frank Shemwell," Laird said.
Penny Baird Shemwell had been in the West Kentucky Correctional Complex in Fredonia, Kentucky. Her original sentence was 15 years.
If you have any information about this case, please call Paducah police at (270) 444-8553 or you can remain anonymous by calling Crimestoppers at (270) 443-TELL (8355).