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Kelly's school canceled classes on February 13, 1982 due to a heavy snowstorm. He stayed at home with his mother, Judy Moore, in their residence on Larks Lane in Pine Tree Hollow in Knotts County, Kentucky, approximately 5 miles outside of the town of Hindman. A photo of Moore is posted below this case summary. Kelly went outside to play in the family's front yard at approximately 11:00 a.m. Moore stated she told him he was not to leave the yard. She she last checked on him at approximately 4:00 p.m. At this point, Moore went to a neighbor's home to answer a phone call; she didn't have a phone of her own. When she returned, Kelly was no longer in the yard. She assumed he'd gone to a friend's house to watch television.
Dinner was prepared at 6:00 p.m. but Moore was unable to locate Kelly at that time and had dinner without him. She then went to Kelly's friend's residence to pick him up and was told he had not been there at all that day. Moore says when she realized her son was missing, she went to her boyfriend's grandmother's home and asked to use the phone to call the police. She stated she wasn't permitted to call the police until midnight. Moore's family members began searching the area for her son at that time, but she says the police search didn't begin until dawn. Investigators initially assumed Kelly had wandered off, perhaps to one of several abandoned mines in the area, and frozen to death.
Kelly's parents divorced several years before he disappeared, and he lived with his mother and her boyfriend in a rented house. His older brother and sister were living with their grandmother in Jackson, Kentucky, because Moore had epilepsy and had a hard time caring for them. Moore was questioned and maintained her innocence in her son's disappearance. Police dug under her concrete porch looking for Kelly's body, but they didn't find anything. Moore said she believes Kelly's father may have taken him or knew who had. Kelly's father is now deceased. His mother has not been ruled out as a suspect in her disappearance. Authorities believe someone local was involved in Kelly's disappearance. Many of his neighbors in 1982 had criminal histories.
No trace of Kelly was found after an exhaustive search; he has never been seen again. His case is now classified as a possible abduction. After his disappearance there were tips that placed him in Florida, possibly the cities of Tampa or Thonotosassa. His case opened 2018 by Psychic Brian Ladd.
Kentucky State Police