Here is a transcript of Ashland (Ky.) Police Department Chief Todd Kelley’s statement on the events leading to the arrest of Roy Nichols Jr. and Kayla Colyer:
Good afternoon. I am Ashland Police Department Chief Todd Kelley and I will be summarizing the events of the past 72 hours that occurred in Ashland and in our neighboring states of Ohio and West Virginia, concerning the missing person investigation of Tricia Freeman of Palmetto, Florida. Behind me is a small representation of the law enforcement agencies that were involved.
On March 16, 2017, the Ashland Police Department Field Operations Division responded to a call of a suspicious vehicle inside Central Park here in Ashland. A green Chevrolet compact car with Florida registration plates was located. The investigation revealed City of Ashland park officials reported it as being there for over two days. Officers contacted Palmetto Florida Police at that time and found that the vehicle belonged to Tricia Freeman there and their department was currently in the early stages of investigating a possible missing person.
On Friday, March 17, 2017, the Ashland Police Department was contacted by Palmetto Police and advised that they were in the stages of working an active missing person case where Tricia Freeman had not been seen since Monday. Detectives with the Ashland Police Department Criminal Investigations Section immediately began to work with detectives in Palmetto. Ashland Detectives immediately obtained a search warrant to examine the 2016 Green Chevrolet Sonic that our department had recovered. During the search, there was evidence that could be potential blood inside the vehicle. We requested the assistance from the Kentucky State Police Forensic Laboratory in Ashland to assist in analyzing and collecting potential evidence. A determination was made that there was blood within the vehicle that was human. The Kentucky State Police Forensic Unit contacted their counterparts in Frankfort and dispatched a team from the AFIS Section or Fingerprint Identification Section who examined the vehicle.
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While examinations were ongoing, media releases were being made in Florida as the missing person case in Palmetto. The Ashland Police posted information concerning Tricia Freeman on our Facebook page. In response to the post, the Lawrence County Ohio Sheriff’s Department received information concerning Roy Nichols and Kayla Colyer as having a connection with the vehicle. Investigators from Ashland Police and Lawrence Co Sheriff immediately began investigating and determined that they had brought the vehicle to Ashland. Palmetto Police were contacted and their investigation was advancing and began linking with the investigation here in Ashland. Palmetto Police was given the information and that is when it was determined that Kayla was the missing person's daughter and Roy was her boyfriend. Later in the evening, a warrant was issued for both Roy Nichols and Kayla Colyer for the theft of Freeman’s vehicle. Ashland Police released a wanted flyer for public and law enforcement assistance in locating them.
Around 0800 hours on March 18, 2017, Ashland Detectives were notified that both Nichols and Colyer had been seen at a truck stop just off the 29th Street exit off Interstate 64 in Cabell County West Virginia. Cabell County Deputies responded and located and took them into custody.
After taken into custody, Ashland Police Detectives met with Cabell county deputies and began the interview process with them. Ashland Police Detectives interviewed both and received detailed confessions from Nichols and Colyer in their involvement of Freeman. Evidence was obtained that Nichols murdered Tricia Freeman with involvement by Colyer. Both revealed that Freeman was murdered in Florida and her body was discarded there and not here in the Tri-state area.
Late yesterday, investigators from Ashland and Palmetto discussed the evidence obtained. Based on that evidence it was given to Palmetto Police. They immediately initiated search and recovery activities there in Florida in locating Freeman. The evidence we obtained was provided to Florida detectives and now warrants have been issued for homicide related charges on both Nichols and Colyer.
I cannot express my sincere appreciation for the men and women of the Ashland Police Department for their tireless efforts in this investigation. This appreciation is for the patrol officers that had the initiative to investigate the suspicious nature of the vehicle, in the beginning, all the way to the expertise of our detective section who have worked many hours over the past 72 hours with little rest. These officers took ownership of this investigation without knowing where the case would take them.
This was a multi-state investigation and some are here behind me now. I want to acknowledge the cooperation and the expertise of the Kentucky State Police Forensic Unit, the Lawrence County Ohio Sheriff’s Department, the Cabell County West Virginia Sheriff’s Department and the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville West Virginia. And I cannot leave out, you the media, for getting the information to our communities. And finally, our amazing citizens who joined us and located Nichols and Colyer. The citizens of this Tri-state community are the best when we ask through social media and press releases to partner with us when we need more eyes and ears when looking for individuals in these situations.
And finally, the Ashland Police Department would like to send our thoughts and prayers to the friends and family of Tricia Freeman. We assure you that our investigation will continue and will assist in every way to ensure that justice is served for her.
I would like to ask the other agencies that are here with us today if they wish to make any statements.
I will take a few questions and answer them if I can as this investigation is still ongoing both here and in Florida.