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KSP Identifies Murray State Student As Deceased Woman, Calloway Co. Man Charged With Murder


  Update March 27, 10:32 a.m. CST: 

Kentucky State Police (KSP) says investigators have identified the deceased woman found in a Calloway County roadside ditch Friday as a Murray State University student who was shot to death, and a Calloway County man faces several charges including murder in connection to the woman.

KSP in a release Saturday states detectives identified the body with help from family members as Sarah Townsend, 21, originally from Farmville, Virginia. The release states an autopsy conducted Friday evening by the Western Kentucky Medical Examiner's Office in Madisonville determined Townsend had died from multiple gunshot wounds. 

The Murray State University Police department Friday evening had been asked to conduct a welfare check for Townsend when she failed to show up to work that day. 

After interviewing family and friends, investigators learned Townsend’s Toyota Camry had been observed by traffic cameras in central Georgia, which led investigators to focus on a suspect with similar ties to the central Georgia area. KSP detectives determined early Saturday morning the Camry had arrived back in Kentucky. 

The release states around 4 a.m., KSP detectives found Julius Sotomayor, 22, of Dexter near his home, with Townsend’s Camry located nearby. Based on statements and evidence gathered, investigators arrested Sotomayor and charged him with murder, theft by unlawful taking (auto), and tampering with physical evidence. Sotomayor is being held in the Calloway County Jail. 

Murray State University President Bob Jackson in an email to the university community said the loss of Townsend “is felt deeply by all of us.”

“Sarah was a student majoring in pre-veterinary medicine/animal/veterinary technology and a Residential Advisor at College Courts Apartments,” Jackson said. “Please keep the family and friends of Sarah in your thoughts and prayers.”

Jackson encouraged students, staff and faculty to reach out to counseling services available on campus. 

KSP states the investigation is ongoing, and has received help from the Calloway County Sheriff’s Office, Murray State University Police, and officials with Murray State University.

Original Story:

Kentucky State Police (KSP) detectives are investigating a suspicious death in Calloway County. A release Friday from KSP states a passerby found a body, described as a white female between the ages of 25 and 35, around 7 a.m. Friday morning in a roadside ditch in the Cherry Corner area of southern Calloway County. 


The release also states the deceased woman was wearing purple framed glasses, a white t-shirt featuring Murray State University, black capri pants, and blue Crocs. She is described as being approximately 6’1” in height and weighing about 310 pounds.

Calloway County Sheriff's Office deputies initially responded to the scene and requested detectives from KSP respond to investigate. The Calloway County Sheriff's Office, Murray-Calloway County EMS, and the Calloway County Coroner's Office assisted KSP on the scene. 

Detectives are now requesting the public's assistance in identifying the deceased female.

Anyone with information on the identity of the woman or details surrounding the investigation are urged to contact Kentucky State Police, Post 1 at 270-856-3721 or anonymously at 1-800-222-5555. Citizens may also report tips anonymously through the KSP app.

"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
Hannah is a Murray State Journalism major. She found her place in radio during her second year in Murray. She is from Herndon, KY, a small farming community on the Kentucky/Tennessee stateline.
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