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Richard Lee Waggoner: The unsolved 1981 murder of a former Kentuckian

Richard Lee Waggoner, former northern Ky. resident, was murdered in Forth Worth, Texas in 1981. His murder remains unsolved.
Richard Lee Waggoner, former northern Ky. resident, was murdered in Forth Worth, Texas in 1981. His murder remains unsolved.
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Many cold cases, particularly murder cases, have at least some small amount of media attention. However, the 1981 murder of former northern Ky. resident Richard Lee Waggoner has lapsed into virtual oblivion, with the exception of one article on the “Defrosting Cold Cases” blog. Suspects were identified, but no formal charges were filed and no convictions ever made, leaving Waggoner’s family with countless unanswered questions and a heartbreaking lack of closure. In fact, an internet search of Waggoner’s name yields no results besides the above mentioned article.

Richard Lee Waggoner’s death occurred in the early hours of Sept. 12, 1981. At 3:45 a.m., Waggoner had walked outside to the parking lot of a school next to the former Danceland bar in Fort Worth, Texas, most recently renamed Five Star Bingo, to have a beer with a female companion that he had just met earlier the same night. All in all, it seemed like a promising night for 23-year-old Waggoner. But things would quickly take a turn for the worst.

Without warning, two men, whom Waggoner’s female companion described as Hispanic in appearance, approached the couple and asked Richard for a cigarette. Richard offered the cigarette without question, and the men then requested a match. This was also not a particularly unusual request and was, therefore, unlikely to have caused suspicion on Waggoner’s part. However, as Richard’s companion began to look for a match, one man flashed a firearm and attempted to rob Waggoner.

Unfortunately, Waggoner attempted to resist the assault, ultimately leading the man to fire his weapon. The bullet pierced the ascending arch of Richard’s aorta, which proved fatal. Richard died of exsanguination, meaning that he bled out as a result of the extensive damage to his heart.

The description of Richard’s murderers provided to the authorities was detailed enough to lead to an arrest, but a lack of evidence in the case resulted in the suspect’s release. Ironically, the suspect that was arrested in connection with Richard Lee Waggoner’s murder, and the only person who may have held the answers to the myriad questions of Richard’s family, is still alive, but is no longer considered mentally sound.

Richard Lee Waggoner was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 18, 1958. The address of the old Danceland bar was 712 West Daggett Avenue, Forth Worth, Texas. At the time of his murder, Richard was employed as a roofer and had recently relocated to Texas from northern Ky. Any information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, could lead to a breakthrough in this case and provide answers for which Waggoner’s family has waited and prayed for over three decades. Individuals with any information concerning the murder of Richard Lee Waggoner should contact Detective Sarah Waters of the Forth Worth Cold Case Homicide Unit at 1-817-392-4307.

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