By Dave Taylor
Residents in Lewisport were met with a mystery early Sunday morning when a bloodied man rang the doorbell at a home saying he’d been in a wreck and was locked out of his house, but although he’d clearly been injured the situation raised three questions: where was his vehicle, where did he think he was, and where were his pants?
The mystery unfolded slowly late Saturday night and into Sunday morning when one family had a mystery man, another had mysterious muddy and bloody items of clothing on their porch, and a third had a mysterious SUV.
Jade Taylor and her husband Seth woke Sunday morning to find things askew on their front porch on Mockingbird Lane in Hancock Park, but when they looked closer things got more interesting.
“I just thought that it had stormed or was really windy…” said Jade Taylor, describing how the couple had to walk out a back door to go figure out why a decorative sign was knocked over and blocking their front door.
“And that’s whenever we discovered a man’s shoe and watch, and his blood on our front porch and bloody handprints on our door hanger and on our door and all over the door handle where he had tried getting in,” she said.
The couple had been at home and hadn’t heard anything, but clearly the scene wasn’t how things were supposed to be so they called the police.
A deputy arrived and wasn’t sure what to make of the items, but he wondered aloud if they were related to another incident that had occurred across the street a matter of hours before.
“A lady from Hancock Park called and said there was a guy that had showed up at her door with a busted lip is actually what she said, and bloodied,” said Hancock County Sheriff Dale Bozarth. “I showed up and sure enough there was a guy standing there, and not only did he have a busted lip, he had the traditional mark that you see when you kiss a windshield with no seat belt on.”
He also wasn’t wearing pants and was missing at least one shoe.
Bozarth could see that the man was injured but could still walk, but he could also see that he was confused.
“He said I’m right here at grandmas,” Bozarth said. “I said where’s that at? ‘Central City.’ I said you’re not in Muhlenberg County, you’re in Hancock County, and he looked at me, so I said OK, we’re going to take you to the ambulance.”
He talked to the man a little on the short ride and was going to follow the ambulance to the hospital to figure out what was going on.
“And then I receive another call on a possible suicide person, so I have to leave (him),” he said.
After taking the other man for an evaluation Bozarth returned to the city to look for the accident scene and the black Nissan Pathfinder the mystery man said he’d been driving.
“I come back and I drive around two or three hours because I’m pretty certain his wreck is Sand Hill Road, River Road, somewhere close because it would make sense how he ended up on Mockingbird Lane,” he said. “After two or three hours of looking I never could find the Nissan Pathfinder that we were looking for. It even got daylight and I looked some more, and nobody else called it in and I started getting confused then.”
He wondered if maybe the man had crashed in Daviess County or elsewhere and gotten a ride, asking to be dropped off at what he thought was his place in Central City.
Bozarth had a presumed crash victim but no crash site.
Later that day on Sunday afternoon, a Lewisport man and his daughter found their own mystery when they spotted a crashed black SUV over the riverbank by their house on 2nd Street, quite a distance from Hancock Park.
“My daughter and I were working in our yard near the riverbank when I noticed it and I immediately dialed 911,” said David Fallin.
They’d been home the night before and hadn’t seen or heard anything unusual.
“We didn’t hear anything during the night,” he said. “We had no idea it was even down there.”
At some point the SUV had apparently driven off the end of 2nd Street, which dead ends at the river, barely missing the dead end sign, and crashed some 20 feet down, landing with its front wheels in the water. It had apparently been there at least 10 hours with no one noticing it.
Fallin had a crash site with no driver.
A sheriff’s deputy arrived and knew that authorities had been looking for a black SUV, and the story began to become a little clearer.
The mystery man was identified as 27-year-old Stewart Neal of Central City.
“He was visiting somebody in Lewisport, we found out,” said Bozarth. “How long he was down in there, when the wreck exactly was, we don’t know.”
People at the house where he’d been visiting thought Neal had been gone about two hours before he showed up in Hancock Park, attempting to get into one house and ringing the doorbell at a second and acting like he was in Central City.
“From what we know he thought it was his house,” said Jade Taylor. “I’m assuming he was banging on the door because he had handprints all over the front door and maybe where he was trying to push the door open.”
The man had left a muddy shoe and muddy watch, along with blood drops and smears on the porch.
“We have columns on our house and it’s almost like he fell into them or something or was holding on to it because you could see the blood wrapped around the columns of the house,” she said. “It was just really gross.”
“I’m just like thank God that our door was locked or I wouldn’t even know what to do,” she said. “I guess he didn’t realize there were a bunch of other houses between 2nd Street and Hancock Park.”
The houses in Hancock Park are a little more than a mile from where Neal crashed and police are still looking into the question of how he wound up so far away from the scene, although Bozarth has a theory.
“If you go straight over the bank at 2nd Street or 1st Street or whatever, it’s pretty difficult to go straight back up on foot; you’ve got to climb,” he said.
Neal, possibly coming to after having been knocked out, decided that he’d walk along the riverbank rather than climb straight up the bank, heading east and eventually ending up close to Sand Hill Road where the bank isn’t very steep.
“So I think what he (did) is he walked the riverbank and then got down there where it was easier and then he probably went up Sand Hill Road,” he said. “There’s no way he walked all the way through town.”
Bozarth believes that Neal might have even tried houses along Sand Hill Road before seeing the lights of homes on Mockingbird Lane, which was just on the other side of a large field.
“His legs had barbed wire marks on them, scratches,” he said. “And there’s a barbed wire fence right there between Sand Hill Road and Mockingbird, so it’s very possible that he got his scratches when he was crossing through there.”
But there are still more unanswered questions, like where were his pants?
“I thought well maybe he got hung up in the barbed wire fence and peeled his pants off to get out of it, but I have not located them,” Bozarth said. “I’d say he started with pants; he just didn’t finish with them.”
Neal was taken to Owensboro Health Regional Hospital with cuts and scrapes to his head, but due to COVID-19 restrictions police weren’t able to talk to him there and Bozarth said Wednesday morning Neal remained hospitalized.
Charges are possible, and according to the accident report Neal admitted to being intoxicated before the accident, but the exact charges will be determined after authorities subpoena the results of his hospital blood tests.
While not everything is known, like where Neal’s pants wound up, the overall story came together with the pieces from three families.
“It was kind of a mystery at first,” said Jade Taylor. “It was kind of like a game, you had to play Clue and find all the clues and put it together.”