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Articles About Dr. Roscoe Jacob Acker
His Murdered Daughter, Tammy Acker
and The Killers Arrests and Trials

Daily News, Aug 9, 1985
Woman Killed in Robbery

Tammy Acker
L-R: Tammy Acker and Her Friend Robin Trivette
Benny Hodge Prison Mug Shot
Roger Epperson Prison Mug Shot
Donald Bartley Prison Mug Shot
(More About Dr. Acker and Daughter, Tammy). Fleming-Neon, Ky. (AP) - A young woman was stabbed to death and her father, a physician was beaten at an office that was used for a scene in the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter." Tammy Acker, 23 was fatally stabbed and her father, Dr. R. J. Acker was choked and beaten by two men who entered the physician's home in the East Fleming section of Fleming-Neon posing as FBI agents, state police said today. The incident occurred between 9:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Thursday, according to a report by officers from the Hazard state police post.

When the men gained entry, they pulled a weapon, forced Acker to open a safe and took an undetermined amount of money, the report said. Investigators said the intruders tied up the doctor and his daughter, fatally stabbed the daughter and choked the doctor into unconsciousness. A family dog was fatally stabbed, the report said. Officials at the Hazard post said there were no suspects.

Orlando Sentinel, Florida - 3 Sought In Kentucky Killing Arrested In Ormond - August 17, 1985 - By Bob Levenson of The Sentinel Staff

Three men arrested in Ormond Beach Thursday night by the FBI are suspects in the stabbing death of a Kentucky woman during a robbery last week, Kentucky State Police said Friday. Two of the men also were being sought in connection with the robbery earlier this year of a Rome, Ga., family who opened the door to men posing as Internal Revenue Service agents, FBI agents said. Donald T. Bartley, 26, Benny L. Hodge, 34, and Roger D. Epperson, 35, were being held without bail Friday in the Orange County Jail. Ormond Beach police and about 10 members of an FBI special weapons team captured Bartley and Hodge as they walked out of an apartment at 55 Chipping Wood Lane about 6:15 p.m., said FBI agent James Vatter.

Epperson was arrested a few minutes later about 2 miles away on North Atlantic Avenue in Daytona Beach. He was driving a 1985 Chevrolet Corvette he had bought about three hours earlier with $25,000 in cash, Vatter said. He said it appeared the three were getting ready to abandon the apartment they had been renting for about a month. Frank Fleming, a detective with the Kentucky State Police, said the three are charged with stabbing Tammy Dee Acker of Fleming-Neon 11 times in the back with a kitchen knife Aug. 8 1985. Fleming-Neon (Kentucky) is a town of 1,100 people about 150 miles southeast of Lexington. Fleming gave this account of the Kentucky case:

About 10:30 p.m. Aug. 8, three men later identified as Bartley, Epperson and Hodge conned their way into the house where Roscoe Acker, a doctor, lived with his 23-year-old daughter. They claimed they were FBI agents investigating a former associate of Acker, flashing a badge when the doctor came to the door. Once inside, the three forced Acker to open a safe, which contained several thousand dollars. They bound and gagged Acker and his daughter, then strangled Acker until he blacked out. Apparently thinking he was dead, the three then stabbed Tammy Acker to death with a knife from the kitchen. Acker awoke about 40 minutes later, escaped his bonds, and found his daughter dead with the knife in her back.

Fleming said the three are each charged with capital homicide, attempted murder, first-degree burglary and armed robbery. Capital homicide carries a minimum penalty of 20 years and a maximum penalty of death, he said. FBI agents were searching the Ormond Beach apartment, the Corvette and two other cars owned by the three men late Friday, Vatter said. He said the three were believed to have kept several guns, including machine guns, and a large amount of cash in the apartment. The three did not say Friday whether they would fight extradition to Kentucky, Vatter said.

Daily News Paper - Aug 22, 1985: Three Charged in Slaying Fight Return to State

Whitesburg, Ky. (AP) - Assistant Commonwealth's attorney Mike Caudill said he would send documents to Gov. Martha Layne Collins' office by today to begin efforts to extradite three men held in Florida in the fatal stabbing of a Letcher County woman. The three, aressted last Thursday after they were traced to an Ormond Beach condominium, are charged in the death of 23-year-old Tammy Dee Acker of Fleming-Neon and the robbery of her 77-year-old father, Dr. R. J. Acker.

Caudill said they refused through their attorneys Wednesday to waive extradition and return to face the charges in Letcher County. Roger Dale Epperson, 35, of Perry County; Donald T. Bartley, 26, of Evarts in Harlan County; and Benny Lee Hodge, 34, of Lake City, Tenn., are charged in fugitive warrants with murder, attempted murder, robbery and burglary in connection with the Aug. 8 slaying and robbery at Acker's Fleming-Neon home.

Miss Acker, a University of Kentucky psychology student who had planned to return to classes this week, was stabbed 11 times, officials said. Acker told police he was forced to open a safe an then tied up and choked until unconscious. He said he discovered his daughter's body after he regained consciousness and freed himself.

Kentucky New Era News June 10, 1986 - Acker Tells of Daughter's Death

Whitesburg, Ky. (AP) - Dr. Roscoe J. Acker, his voice quavering with emotion, described today how he found his daughter's body as soon as he regained consciousness following a robbery at his Letcher County home.

Acker was the first witness in the Letcher Circuit Court trial of Benny Lee Hodge of Lake City, Tenn., and Roger Dale Epperson of Jeff in Perry County, both charged in the stabbing death of 23-year-old Tammy Acker.

The 78-year-old physician, who had been choked with an electic cord during the robbery, removed his spectacles and wiped his eyes today as he described finding his daughter's body, bound and gagged on the floor by her bed. "I walked over and caught her up. There was the butcher knife protruding from her back and I knew she was in God's hands," Acker said.

Letcher County Commonwealth's Attorney James W. Craft said in his opening arguments Monday that he would prove Hodge stabbed Tammy Acker to death on orders from Epperson.

Daily News - Sept 18, 1988: Two Draw Death Sentences

London, Ky. (AP) - Benny Lee Hodge and Roger Dale Epperson each have been sentenced to Kentucky's electric chair three times for murders they were convicted of committing during the summer of 1985. Hodge and Epperson both received two death sentences Thursday in Laurel Circuit Court for the Jun 16, 1985, murders of Edwin and Bessie Morris of Gray Hawk in Jackson County. The Morrises were found bound, gagged and shot, and their house had been robbed.

Special Judge Clay M. Bishop also sentenced Hodge and Epperson to 20 years each for burglary and 20 years each for robbery. Bishop said the sentences would run consecutively. Hodge, of Lake City, Tenn., and Epperson, of Perry County, Kentucky also face the death penalty for the Aug. 8 1985, murder of Tammy Acker, 23, during a robbery at the home of her father, Dr. R.J. Acker, in Letcher County.

Daily News - Nov 21, 1997: Death Row Prisoner's Retrial Moved to Warren

The retrial of a death-row prisoner charged in a brutal 1985 eastern Kentucky double slaying will come to Warren County next year. Gary Gregory, commonwealth's attorney for Jackson, Clay and Leslie counties, will prosecute Roger Epperson, who faces another death sentence on charges that he killed and robbed Ed and Bessie Morris in their home in the Jackson County community of Grayhawk.

Epperson and Benny Lee Hodge were convicted in the case and sentenced to die in 1987, but the verdicts were overturned and new trials were ordered after proscecutors admitted they erred by not questioning jurors about pretrial publicity, Gregory said. Epperson and Hodge are already on death row after being convicted of killing and robbing Tammy Acker in Letcher County six weeks after the Morrises were slain.

Hodge was convicted a second time in the Morris case last year in Laurel County. The regional publicity surrounding that trial being moved to Warren County, Gregory said. The crime spree of Epperson and Hodge was the focus of "The Dark and Bloody Ground." a book published in the late 1980s. Court TV is interested in covering Epperson's retrial, according to his attorney, Michael Williams. Warren Circuit Court Thomas Lewis will preside over the trial, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 8, 1998.

WBKO Fox Bowling Green, KY: Local News: Monday 9:18 PM, Jun 30, 2003: Brutal Murder Case to Be Retried in Warren County

By Jonathan Hardison | Posted: Mon 9:18 PM, Jun 30, 2003 | Updated: Tue 10:18 AM, Jul 01, 2003. One of the most brutal murder cases in state history will be retried this week in Warren County. Roger Epperson, 53, was convicted in 1988 of the 1985 execution-style double shootings of Ed and Bessie Morris in Jackson County. His alleged accomplice Benny Hodge, 52, was also convicted of the murders, but his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court and a retrial ordered. Hodge was retried in October of 1996 and convicted, then sentenced to death. Because of allegations made and new evidence discovered that led to Hodge's retrial, a retrial for Epperson was ordered as well.
Both men are also on Death Row for the August 1985 stabbing death of 23-year-old UK student Tammy Acker at her father's home in Letcher County. Dr. Roscoe J. Acker, Tammy's father, was stabbed and robbed of $1.9 million dollars in the same attack. A 1993 book entitled "Dark and Bloody Ground" created unusual publicity for the case, leading defense attorneys to request a change of venue for this retrial. Jury selection in the case began on Monday, opening statements could come as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

Dr. Roscoe Jacob Acker Obituary

2001: WHITESBURG, Ky. — Roscoe J. Acker, who for several years served as the only physician in the eastern Kentucky community of Fleming-Neon, died Tuesday at Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Health Care Center. He was 92. Dr. Acker continued to work into his 70s and friends applauded him for caring for people regardless of their ability to pay. In 1985 Dr. Acker was the victim of an attack in which intruders stabbed his 23-year-old daughter, Tammy, to death and stole $2 million from a safe beside his bed. Three men were convicted in the attack. “His happiness ended that night,” said Maynard Hogg, a coal businessman, former Letcher County sheriff and a longtime friend. A native of Amesbury, Mass., Dr. Acker moved to Letcher County in the 1950s. He is survived by a daughter, Tawny Acker Hogg of Emmalena; a granddaughter; and two sisters.

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