Seventeen years after Alyne Barrick vanished, her family holds out hope that law enforcement can piece together how she disappeared, where her body is and who might be responsible.
“We just want to give our mother a proper burial and to really know that she’s at peace,” said Barrick’s daughter, Kaye Biggers. “That’s what has bothered me the most all these years, thinking about how she died and just wondering if her spirit is at peace.”
Barrick was 61 years old when she was last seen on April 12, 1996, walking her Pomeranian, Fifi, in her Edmonson County neighborhood on Nolin Lake along Laurel Ridge Road.
Three days later – a Monday – a neighbor reported Barrick missing after noticing that she had not been outside walking her dog for a few days.
Deputies from the Edmonson County Sheriff’s Office who responded to the call had to force their way into Barrick’s home, where they encountered a scene in the bedroom that suggested a struggle had taken place.
A small amount of blood was found on some bedclothes, and relatives believe that Barrick was preparing to go to bed when her assailant entered the home.
Her clutch purse and a fitted sheet from her bed were missing, and $400 in cash that Barrick kept in her freezer was still there.
Her dog was locked in its crate and a bag of trash was found on her kitchen counter, which relatives say suggests that Barrick was in the midst of her nightly chore, taking out the trash.
The case was turned over to the Kentucky State Police, which has pursued it as a homicide.
Biggers remembers her mother as a hard worker who “worked like a man” on their family farm.
When she wasn’t working in the tobacco field, Barrick could be found cooking for the work hands, shelling peas or canning vegetables. Also, Barrick was an exceptional seamstress, Biggers said.
“She made all of our clothes,” Biggers said. “At night, when we would go to bed, she would start sewing until the wee hours of the morning.”
Barrick was widowed and living alone at her residence on Nolin Lake at the time of her disappearance. The neighborhood had homes that were used mainly as vacation houses.
The mother of four daughters, Barrick enjoyed fishing near her home and growing roses.
Barrick had reportedly been dating a younger man, but her family did not know the man’s name. Family members have their suspicions about who might be responsible for Barrick’s disappearance.
“I feel like there are some people out there that know about this, and I wish their conscience would bother them enough to talk,” Biggers said.
Numerous KSP detectives have worked on the case over the years, which has involved searches in several parts of Edmonson County for Barrick’s body.
In 1997, police searched the Green River near the Mammoth Cave Ferry after a fisherman pulled hair from the river that KSP lab tests determined was human hair.
Investigators have acted on other tips that have prompted them to use dogs to aid in the search and dig up a portion of a farm in Edmonson County, but Barrick’s whereabouts remain unknown.
“Like any cold case we have, we continue to investigate and follow up with any leads we get, but unfortunately, they run dry,” said Trooper Jonathan Biven, spokesman for KSP Post 3. “That’s a case we’d love to get solved, like several of the other ones we have.”
KSP Detective Brad Stevenson is currently the lead investigator on the case, having inherited the investigation last year from Detective Scott Skaggs, who now works in KSP’s Drug Enforcement/Special Investigatons unit.
Skaggs had previously said that a man with a history of violence toward women was considered a suspect in Barrick’s death and disappearance.
Stevenson said he has heard from one caller recently about the case, but there have not been any significant developments in the investigation, and the absence of a body can serve as an impediment.
“Certainly, if we do have something that were to come in on a case such as this, when we are provided with time to do so we will follow up,” Stevenson said.
Since Barrick disappeared, a younger brother of hers has died, and Biggers said she hopes the mystery of her mother’s disappearance does not outlive her other surviving relatives.
“Mama wasn’t scared of anything and that’s what bothers me about this,” Biggers said. “I hated it where she lived, there was just something about it that was scary, but she wasn’t scared of it.”