A new set of eyes has taken on a Lexington murder investigation that dates back nearly 26 years.
Lexington Police recently re-established their cold case unit and their focus right now is the 1994 murder of Overton “Toby” Kavanaugh- a well known business owner, with a hint of celebrity.
Toby Kavanaugh came from a wealthy family, traveled through Europe and went to a Pennsylvania prep school before coming back to Kentucky and graduating from UK.
He loved Keeneland, gardening and his family, but his passion, was pool.
The year was 1994. A murder making headlines was nothing new, but the victim made it one of the more talked about crimes for a while.
“Toby’s pool hall was a safe haven for a lot of people,” says Christy Kavanaugh. Her uncle Toby, a Lexington native, bought the building on South Limestone across from Two Keys in 1951. Bluegrass Billiards was a popular place to shoot pool. In the beginning, that’s because it was cheap. Then came a best-selling book- and later movie- called “The Hustler” penned by Kavanaugh’s childhood friend, Walter Tevis.
Christy says, “that resulted in a big boom in the pool hall business. He ran that pool hall for 43 years.”
For decades, business couldn’t have been better, but in June of 1994, it was the last place friends would see Kavanaugh. “Friends were worried about him, hadn’t seen him that day,” says Detective Rob Wilson. “They went out to his residence, looked in a window and saw a leg sticking out on the floor.”
Lexington Police did several interviews with friends, co-workers and neighbors after the murder. Now, they’re ready to start asking some of those same questions again. Not long ago, Lexington Police re-established their cold case unit and Kavanaugh’s case is at the top of their list.
“Back in 1994 there was DNA testing, but it was in its infancy,” Wilson says. “We believe that there’s some evidence in the case that can be fruitful based on the advancements that have been made.”
Christy Kavanaugh told FOX 56, she’d love to see an arrest while she’s still around. And she’s grateful for the detective willing to give Toby’s case another shot.