11 years after murder of Lexington bar owner, victim’s daughter determined to find killer

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Charlie Sowers was found barely alive at the bottom of his steps May 27, 2009. Investigators thought his death was an accident.  The medical examiner ruled otherwise.

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“It’s time, and I don’t think I’m going to quit pushing this time,” says Sharon McKinney.

It has been 11 agonizing years since the Madison County woman got the phone call that sent her rushing to her dad’s Augusta Drive home in Lexington.

“When I pulled up to my dad’s house, there were 13 police cars.” 

A confusing number of investigators for what Sharon and her brother Patrick were told, was an accident.  “They said he fell down the steps. Daddy’s layout of the house there’s no way. I’ve toppled down those steps myself.  Can’t be. Not where they’re saying he landed.”

On this anniversary, Lexington Police gave FOX 56 exclusive, never before seen photos taken by detectives May 27, 2009. Charlie’s stairs to his basement, his broken glasses, blood on the door and even footprints on the back door and in the mud outside Sowers’ home. While the photos were being taken, Charlie Sowers lie dying at UK Hospital.

“There, the level of suspicion of foul play increased.  Shortly thereafter, Mr. Sowers passed away,” says Lexington Police Cold Case Unit Detective Rob Wilson.

The medical examiner found the 71-year old died from blunt force trauma. It sent the investigation into an entirely different direction and the questions about what really happened in Charlie’s final hours began to mount.

“Daddy was a friend to many.  He helped a lot of people.  A lot of people stuck their hand out to daddy and daddy didn’t tell them no.”

Sowers was the owner of Charlie’s Restaurant and Lounge on Bryan Station and the laundromat next door.

It was common knowledge, McKinney says, that Sowers’ carried cash on him.  Sometimes, a lot of it.  She and her family believe, this was the result of a burglary that turned deadly when Charlie came home unexpectedly.  She says she’s also had a hunch, as far back as the day of her dad’s funeral, about who it was.  “As they say, the truth will set you free.  Just admit it,” McKinney says.  “Explain what happened that day.”

If anyone out there knows, Det. Wilson is listening. Thanks to advancements in forensics and cell phone tower data he thinks he’s close to putting this case to rest.  “I really believe that we’re one phone call away from making an arrest in this case.”

Maybe soon, police will know for sure. An arrest in the case, Sharon and Patrick say, is the only way their  dad will finally rest in peace.

“I feel like when I come, I disappoint him.  I want to come and say ‘yay!, but i don’t get to.  But I will someday.

Charlie Sowers continued to be victimized even after his death.  His bar was broken into the day of his memorial service and then again a couple of weeks later.  If you have information about Charlie’s case, even if you think it’s small, give Lexington Police a call.  There’s even some reward money up for grabs if you anonymously report your tip to (859) 253-2020.

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