On this day in 1972 (October 17, a Tuesday), Morris Beckham Vaughn, then owner and significant Vaughn Insurance Agency Co. stockholder, was last seen alive.
His body was found six days later- on a Sunday afternoon, October 22, 1972. The Henderson Kentucky newspaper The Gleaner headlines read, “Vaughn Victim of Homicide.”
Vaughn was last seen leaving his office after 5 pm on October 17, 1972, walking to the rear of the office to his car. He was also seen at dusk at the Henderson Post office and later at Howard Johnsons in Henderson, KY.
Morris B. Vaughn was shot at close range in the back of the neck with a shotgun and then shot in the face with a handgun or rifle. He had $170.00 in cash, a watch, and a diamond ring when he was found. His body was found in Horseshoe Bend north of the now-defunct Audubon Raceway in Henderson, KY. The body was discovered off the road on the edge of a soybean field, face up, fully clothed, and with his glasses on.
His 1969 Black Cadillac car was later found parked behind the insurance agency, not in his typical fashion.
Usually, Morris parked the car facing south—this time, the car was parked facing north.
His billfold, credit cards, and heart medication were found in the insurance agency safe that is still used today.
Many rumors continued to multiply about this mysterious murder.
The Gleaner reported on October 26, 1972, that a “$1,500 reward was offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who murdered Morris B. Vaughn, the well-known local insurance company owner.”
Morris B. Vaughn was 67 years old when he was murdered.
Morris Beckham Vaughn came to Henderson initially from Clay, Kentucky, when his father, Andrew Boyd (A.B.) Vaughn opened the A B Vaughn & Co. insurance agency in 1917. This agency is the predecessor to Vaughn Insurance Agency Co.
Morris graduated from Barrett Manual Training High School in Henderson, Kentucky, and later from the University of Kentucky. After graduation, he became a school principal in Columbia, Kentucky. He met his wife, Jessie Carter Vaughn, while in Columbia. He returned to Henderson in 1935 to assist his father in operating the insurance agency. A few years later (1949), he (Morris B. Vaughn) split from his father and opened the Morris B. Vaughn insurance agency. His father continued solo. When his father died (1952), they joined the agencies.
He was a deacon at the First Baptist Church in Henderson. Morris and his wife, Jessie C. Vaughn, lived at 821 N. Main Street in Henderson, Kentucky. The couple did not have any children.
Norris O. Priest, the current owner of Vaughn Insurance Agency Co., purchased the agency from Morris Beckham Vaughn’s widow, Jessie C. Vaughn, in August of 1974. He initially purchased a portion of the stock and later the entire agency.
Norris O. Priest chose not to change the name of the agency. Norris and his family were no kin to the Morris Beckham Vaughn family.
Ironically, Norris and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, started their married life in 1958 by living across the street from Vaughn Insurance Agency Co. They knew of Mr. Vaughn but had no actual contact with him.
Do you remember Morris B. Vaughn?
What are your thoughts about his demise?