12 years of sheriff's records missing

When a local sheriff took office and found stacks of records and vital evidence missing, he went on a search. So far, he has come up empty.

Now, a state special investigations unit is on the missing records case.

The missing files are affecting dozens of people's lives. They include accident victims trying to make insurance claims and detectives without crime scene photos. There's also concern about rampant identity theft.

We’re told a dozen years of vital records and evidence didn't just disappear. So, where did the files go?

Former Johnson County Sheriff's Deputy Tom Wyatt recently went to get a copy of his personnel file from the sheriff's office. He was told there is no copy and no file.

Instead, Wyatt received a letter from new Sheriff Dwayne Price, referring to Price's political predecessor -- former Sheriff Bill Witten.

Wyatt read the following from the letter, “… He found that the previous
Sheriff William D. Witten has removed all case files, collision reports, photographic records, office supplies and personnel files from the office."

Price said, "We had to replenish it. Files were missing from accident reports. Crime scenes and criminal cases, personnel files ...”

Price re-read the list for us, explaining that Witten was sheriff for 12 years, Price said those 12 years worth of all the department records and some evidence from the evidence room were gone when he took office Jan. 1.

Bill Witten’s attorney responded to the county attorney in February on Monday, insisting that the former sheriff did not remove any files or record or evidence.

Price says his criminal investigators had to scramble without case files, piecing together and salvage many cases.

Wyatt says with personnel records gone, he and maybe 75 more former deputies are now prime targets for identity theft.

“My credit, my family are in jeopardy," Wyatt said. "I don't know where my records are. They're in limbo, and that is a great concern to me.”

Price says he had an independent group, Operation UNITE, audit the evidence room and says they found discrepancies.

A state special investigations at the Pikeville State Police post is handling the missing files and evidence case.

We called Witten’s home. His wife said he wasn't home. She also referred to the entire matter as a joke. Our follow-up calls were not returned.

Under Kentucky law, tampering with public records is a felony crime.

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