In September 1999, 17-year-old Jessica Dishon apparently vanished from the driveway of her family’s home in Sheperdsville, Kentucky, and left only a few things behind in her car: a shoe, her purse, her backpack and her cell phone — with the number “9” dialed.
Dishon’s body was reportedly found more than two weeks later at a nearby dumping ground. Authorities said she had been beaten, strangled and “violently sexually assaulted,” according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Though a neighbor was identified as a suspect and charged in her death, a judge declared a mistrial and the charge was later dismissed, the Courier-Journal reports.
Answers remained elusive for years. But beginning in 2013, the case gained momentum, until authorities revealed the killer was a relative: her uncle Stanley Dishon.
In January 2015, Stanley Dishon reportedly entered an Alford plea to a lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter in her death, and records show he remains behind bars. (An Alford plea is a kind of guilty plea in which the defendant maintains his innocence.)
The case’s twists and turns will be featured in Thursday night’s episode of Cold Case Files on A&E.
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“The murder of Jessica Dishon is particularly terrifying because it exposes the greatest fears of any parent,” says Ari Mark, president of the series’ production company, AMPLE.
“One, maybe the law can’t protect your children; and two, maybe your kids aren’t even safe in their own homes.”
In an exclusive clip from the episode, Dishon’s father, Mike Dishon, recounts the family’s distress in the aftermath of her disappearance.
“It was kind of hard to come back home when Jessica was still missing,” he says. “We couldn’t sleep.”
Mike also recounts a moment when he thought his son had heard Jessica near their home, calling for help.
“So I run in my bedroom, I got my gun and out the door I went,” he says. “I went to find her.”
Cold Case Files airs Thursday (10 p.m. ET) on A&E.