“I’d love to know what happened to him, but I don’t think we’ll ever know.”
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 a 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.