“Follow that blood trail” I thought as I got out of my car. I was attempting to visit my brother in a downtown Louisville care facility (Ken had damaged his mind in the late 1960’s through the use of hallucinogenic drugs), but as soon as I pulled up to the curb of this three-story brick fortress-looking building, I spotted several small pools of blood, and a trail of blood leading inside. Being young and feeling invincible, I didn’t give it a second thought, and forcing myself to take a bit of extra precaution, I dodged the blood trail in my quest to locate my brother. Being unarmed, I was not moving in the greatest of wisdom.
Anyway, as I stepped out of my car, I noticed something else was strange: despite it being early summer, with plenty of light remaining to the day, there wasn’t a soul on the street, and this was very unusual for any downtown neighborhood around 5:30 p.m., as folks were always milling about in nice weather. And if that wasn’t weird enough, once inside, I discovered the front desk was deserted too. But at least I still had the blood trail, and it was urging me on in the direction I needed to go.
By this time I could feel my pulse quicken as the adrenalin performed its function of preparing me for fight or flight. I remember thinking that whoever has been stabbed, I might just round a corner and find potential killer and victim still together. That said, I wasn’t about to turn around now – I needed to find the owner of all this blood on the floor.
The creepy red trail led to the second floor, but it continued past my brother’s room – the first possible good sign. But like the rest of the building, his room was empty too. At least there was no sign of a struggle and no blood, so I was a bit hopeful I wouldn’t be carrying bad news home to my unsuspecting family. But where was everyone? I called out several times “Is anyone here” but each time I was met with silence.
I quickly made my way back down the steps and returned to the street; a street that was still empty. No sirens, no people, only blood on the sidewalk. And then, for some reason, I turned my head and looked two houses down, and sitting on the front steps, holding a bloody knife in his right hand, was Philip Dugard (a pseudonym). I knew Dugard through my brother who’d known him for several years. Indeed, as a young minister, I once took my brother, Dugard and another fellow from the home out to lunch and Dugard was very nice and agreeable, not only on that day, but in subsequent days to come whenever I saw him while visiting Ken.
But Dugard, who at this time was now in his mid thirties, had murdered an elderly man when he was sixteen by beating him to death with a baseball bat. He also nearly killed another victim only a few years prior to this knife-wielding assault. Without question, he was a time bomb ready to explode and I knew it. Within a minute of spotting him, a police car skidded to a halt and a patrolman, pistol in hand, ran up to Dugard, kicked the knife out of his hand, forced him to the ground and cuffed him. Thankfully, the fellow he stabbed would, after major surgery, recover and Dugard was soon sent to another institution. And then the trail of his life went cold.
There is a bizarre postscript to my dealings with Philip Dugard. Years after this incident, I was functioning as a minister in a local church and sitting in the congregation with other ministers on staff, when in walks Philip Dugard wearing a strange, distant look on his face. Like an automaton, he practically glided towards the pastor who was in the midst of the sermon. I immediately jumped to my feet, shouting to the other ministers “follow me and keep your eyes on his hands!” Before we reached him I again shouted “watch his hands!”
I kept thinking we were going to have to tackle Dugard, but thankfully, when he saw me he stopped dead in his tracks. “What are you doing here, Philip?” I asked, as we escorted him out of the sanctuary and out the front door. With the same odd expression, he said he just wanted to talk to the pastor. I said fine, but I told him he needed to make an appointment. As he walked away I breathed a sigh of relief, and after the service, I explained to my pastor who and “what” was trying to get at him today, and I advised him to be on the alert should Dugard make that appointment.
Dugard never made that call. And that, my friends, is my personal true crime story.
Kevin Sullivan is the author of true crime books VAMPIRE: The Richard Chase Murders and THE BUNDY MURDERS