“I’d love to know what happened to him, but I don’t think we’ll ever know.”
By Buddy Forbes
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 12:42 PM EST
INEZ, Ky. (WYMT) – For more nearly 33 years, the family of Ruvil Hale has been waiting for answers. Sunday, they will lay to rest the case of his disappearance.
Hale, a husband, father, and former coal miner, was last seen at the Paintsville Health Care Center on July 3, 1990. Only 43 at the time, he had a host of medical issues, was known to have seizures, and had been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. Though officers had little leads at the time, reports claim he was believed to be traveling in a Ford Tempo that disappeared from the area the same day.
For three decades, the family was left with questions. Until March of last year, when skeletal remains were found in Dewey Lake, submerged in a car in Floyd County.
According to a Facebook post, the car, which investigators compared and later matched to the car Hale was believed to be in, gave the family hope for answers.
“I heard that they finally have found him after 32 years missing,” Ruvil’s son, Max Hale posted. “I’ve been told that the car pulled out of Dewey Lake is 100 percent the car he took from the nursing home. I have to go for a DNA test today to make sure. I might be jumping the gun until positive ID is made on the bones in car, but I feel it’s him.”
After that post, came months of waiting. Floyd County coroner Greg Nelson said the state of the remains made work difficult as the state examiner’s office tried to get a definite match. However, in October, the family was notified that Ruvil had been found.
“I got the news today that it’s a 99.999 percent match to my father’s DNA,” Max said in an updated Facebook post. “This is a day that I never thought would happen. My family and I finally have some closure now. Thank you all for all the prayers and support you gave us. God bless.”
Following further testing, the identity was confirmed and his body made its way home. Now, just days after what would have been his 76th birthday and nearly 33 years since he was reported missing, the case and his body can be laid to rest.
“A family tragedy that began over three decades ago has finally received closure,” his obituary reads. “The medical examiner concluded that the remains found were that of our beloved Ruvil.”
When we hear or talk about Paintsville, Ky, it normally calls to mind Butcher Hollow and Loretta Lynn. However, I doubt the majority of folks have never heard the name, Ruvil Hale.
Ruvil Hale was 43 years old, and being cared for at a nursing home called the “Paintsville Healthcare Center”. He had recently suffered an aneurysm, which was being treated at the time. At one point in his life, he had been a coal miner for Peter Cave Coal Company, but an unnamed injury set him up for the position he had found himself in. Previously he had suffered a stroke, and frequently had seizures and severe headaches, he had muscular weakness of the legs, lack of coordination, memory loss, his throat was paralyzed which caused him to strangle very easily, his response time was slow, he had severe mood swings, and he also experienced double vision. He was dependant on his medications and needed around the clock care.
On July 3, 1990, at approximately 10:25 AM Ruvil Hale seemingly vanished without a trace from the care facility. Oddly enough a 1988 Ford Tempo with half a tank of gas was reported stolen from the parking lot of a nearby Druther’s Restaurant at around the same time. Even if he did manage to steal the car, the likelihood of him being able to travel very far when you consider his mental and physical state renders the theory nearly useless. Also, it’s noted that the last disability check he received was never cashed, and he only had $2 on him at the time of his disappearance. Even if by some remarkable luck he was able to drive the tank dry, $2.00 (even in 1990) wouldn’t be able to buy very much gas.
Law Enforcement conducted an aerial and ground search over the next three days, scouring a twenty-mile radius from the location where the car and Ruvil vanished from. Law Enforcement had received a tip that the vehicle was last seen headed toward Prestonsburg, so they concentrated a considerable amount of time searching on the southern end of Johnson County. They searched the roadways, strip jobs, ponds, rivers, Dewey Lake, Paintsville Lake, side roads, even his homeplace was searched. KSP advised that they searched every location that was accessible by car. Unfortunately, it turned up nothing in the way of indicating where either of them was.
After the failed attempts to locate Ruvil, his family decided to hire a private investigator. According to his findings, he believes that Ruvil may have known about a scam that some employees of the nursing home were involved in. He points the finger at someone who had access to Ruvil on a daily basis and concluded that he was more than likely murdered in cold blood due to fear of him turning into a whistleblower. However, there were never any charges filed against anyone regarding the alleged scam.
He was legally declared dead in 1996.
If you have any information regarding what happened to Ruvil Hale, please contact KSP Post 9 at 606-433-7711 or the Paintsville Police Department at 606-789-2603.
03/21/2021 – no updates available.