EARLIER: Family of slain man appeals to public to help find killer

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Sisters give emotional plea at press conference

By Lisa King

At an emotional press conference on Tuesday, the family of a man who was brutally murdered recently appealed to the public to help find the killer.

"On behalf of my family and myself, we are pleading for the public that if there is anyone out there with any information, please call the state police at 502-227-2221,” Catherine Nichols read from a written statement.

Her brother, James "Jim” Duckett, 43, was found murdered Nov. 10 at his home at 5300 Rockbridge Road. At the time his body was discovered, his gray Ford pickup truck was also found to be missing. The truck was found abandoned later that night off Taylorsville Road.

The family's appeal

At the press conference on Tuesday, both Duckett's family and police appealed to the public for information.

Nichols talked about her brother and stressed the viciousness of the crime against someone who was gentle and kind.

"He did not have a mean bone in his body,” she said. "He would do anything for anybody. He was always trying to help lost souls find their way. He was up in the morning to fix breakfast for my kids before they went to school. He would drive 40 minutes away to fix your car if it broke down. We want the public to know that we are still looking for any information that you can give us. We know that no matter what we do, it will never bring Jim back to us, so all we can look for is closure, to help mend our broken hearts.”

After reading her written statement to the press, Nichols lowered the paper and she and her sister, Rebecca Cecil, seated beside her, tearfully composed themselves.

"Our family is hurting,” she said. "He was more than my brother, he was my best friend. I miss hearing his voice and seeing his smiling face. I want you to know that he did come from a good family, and my brother did not deserve this.”

The police's appeal

KSP trooper Ron Turley appealed to the public for information, asking people to call the state police and ask for KSP detective Mitch Harris, who is in charge of the murder investigation, to relate any information they might have, because the murder has everyone in town scared and uneasy.

"Shelbyville is a small town,” he said. "And to have something like this happen, it doesn't just affect us, it affects the whole community. There are people that are afraid to go out. So everybody needs closure. The whole goal, both for the family and the state police, is to find the individual responsible for this.”

In addition to appealing to the public, Turley also spoke into the camera with a message exclusively for the killer.

"We want them to know that we are working on this, and we are putting in a lot of man hours to solve this case and it's only a matter of time before we find out who is responsible,” he said.

Killer still at large

So far, police still have not apprehended any suspects in the especially brutal murder that was committed in an execution-type manner. Police have said they cannot comment on how the investigation is proceeding. When asked whether he thought the public was in any danger from the killer, Harris said that anyone who could kill another human being in the fashion in which Duckett was murdered, would have to be classified as a dangerous individual.

Police would not say whether they have a motive for the crime, but in a previous interview with Brittney Claycomb, the dead man's niece, she said she could not imagine why anyone would want to harm her uncle.

"Uncle Jim never knew a stranger; he would do anything for anybody,” she said.

She added that Duckett was a good person.

"He had no enemies that I'm aware of,” she said.

Reward offered

On Nov. 17, Kentucky State Police, who is heading up the investigation, offered a reward of an undisclosed amount of money, for information leading to the arrest of the killer. On Nov. 21, Harris told The Sentinel-News that he had several phone calls since announcing the reward. He said he could not comment on whether or not any of the calls had led to a lead in the case.

"I can't reveal whether that has led to obtaining any useful information,” he said.

At the press conference on Tuesday, Turley emphasized that the reward is still in place.

"We can't disclose the amount, but it is still being offered,” he said.

Patrols increased in Rockbridge area

On Nov. 21, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office announced they were stepping up patrols in the area where Duckett was murdered while the killer is still at large.

Shelby County Sheriff's detective Jason Rice said that deputies have visited with residents in that area, both to let them know they are patrolling there intensively and to urge them to call police if they see anything suspicious.

"We have gone and talked to residents to let them know that we are there, to make them feel safer,” he said. "And also to urge them to call us if they see anything out of the ordinary. We're still looking at everything and anything, and it's important to keep the story going so that people know the reward is still being offered and that it's imperative that they come forward if they know anything,” he said.

Duckett's history

James Duckett has been a resident of Shelby County for four years. He recently acquired his contractor's license and had been doing some construction work on Rockbridge United Methodist Church, where he was a member. He was an Army veteran, and had been a member of the military police. He was an "Army Brat” and came from a long line of family members who served in the military. He has one son who lives out west. Since he has been in Shelby County, he has been arrested twice, both in 2008, according to Jailer Bobby Waits. In January, he was incarcerated for driving on a suspended license, and in May, he was jailed for his third DUI. Despite an apparent problem with alcohol, Waits said he had not heard anything else negative about Duckett.

"He was not a bad guy, from what I've heard,” he said.