Steven Hafer

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Above Images: Steven, circa 1989

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: March 1989 from Grant's Lick, Kentucky
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Age: 32 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'11, 240 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair, brown eyes.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A white t-shirt, blue jeans and white sneakers.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Hafer was last seen in Grants Lick, Kentucky sometime during March 1989. His family didn't report him missing until June 1992, because they thought he had left of his own accord. He was going through a contentious divorce at the time of his disappearance and expected to have to pay child support. In June 2008, police charged David Lee Smith with complicity to commit murder and tampering with physical evidence in Hafer's case. They believe Smith, Hafer's brother-in-law, helped Rick Lear, Hafer's wife's lover, in the killing.

    A photo of Smith is posted below this case summary. Clues were uncovered beginning in 1995, when Smith's ex-wife went to the police and said he had been involved in Hafer's disappearance. She agreed to wear a recording device and talk to Smith and Hafer's wife, Linda, who later remarried and took the last name Meyer. On the recording, Meyer and Smith admitted Hafer had not run away in 1989 and that he was deceased, but neither actually confessed to causing his death. Investigators decided they didn't have enough evidence to file charges, even after another of Smith's ex-wives told them in 2002 that Hafer's body was buried along the Licking River. In March 2008, however, a tip came that there was a third witness to the disposal of Hafer's body. When police interviewed Meyer again, she admitted her husband had been murdered inside their residence on Boone Smith Road. Meyer stated Smith began talking to Hafer inside the the home and during the conversation, Lear hit Hafer with a blunt object, possibly a baseball bat, club or shovel. Smith held Hafer down while Lear took a couch pillow and smothered him. Meyer was supposed to shoot him, but she refused to do so.

    Smith admitted to witnessing Hafer's murder and helping to dispose of his body, but he denied having any part in Hafer's death. By the time he was ready to go to trial, Lear had died of brain cancer and Smith's defense planned to blame him for the crime. Prosecutors were uncertain if they could prove Smith's role in Hafer's death, so they reached a plea bargain with him on the eve of his trial. He pleaded guilty to evidence tampering and the complicity to commit murder charge was dropped. He was sentenced to the maximum, five years in prison. He will be eligible for parole after serving fifteen percent of his sentence. Hafer's family criticized the plea agreement, saying it was too lenient.

    Hafer's body has never been found. He left behind two young daughters. It's likely no one will be prosecuted in his presumed homicide, but foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved.

    David Smith
    Above: David Lee Smith

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Campbell County Police Department
    859-635-7484

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    Source Information
    The Kentucky Post
    The Kentucky Enquirer
    The Doe Network
    Channel 9 WCPO
    WLWT 5 Cincinnati
    WKRC 12 Cincinnati
    Unsolved in the News
    NamUs

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    Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated September 9, 2017; height, weight and clothing/jewelry description added, distinguishing characteristics updated.

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