Nunn tried to add details to his gravestone before Ross shooting

bestep@herald-leader.comSeptember 16, 2009 

GLASGOW — A day before former state Rep. Steve Nunn was found by state police in a Hart County cemetery with his wrists slit, he stopped by Borders Monument Co. to make a request: He wanted to add some details to his gravestone.

Abe Shelton, owner of the Glasgow business that specializes in monuments and memorials, said Nunn came in Thursday to discuss designs and wrote down what he wanted to say on the stone. His request freaked out Shelton.

Shelton refused to say what Nunn asked him to put on the stone. He declined to say whether Nunn requested a Sept. 11 death date.

But based on Nunn's demeanor — and what Nunn wanted put on the stone — Shelton said he could tell Nunn was distraught and needed help.

"That's what freaked me out," he said. "I was absolutely floored."

Shelton said he thought Nunn was a danger to himself but never thought he would hurt someone else.

The next day, Nunn, 56, was taken into police custody at the edge of the Hart County cemetery where his parents — former Gov. Louie B. Nunn. and Beula Nunn — are buried. Nunn had slit his wrists after placing mementos on his parents' graves, officers said.

Police found Nunn hours after his ex-fiancée, Amanda Ross, was found shot, lying in the back corner of the parking lot at Opera House Square Town Homes. Ross, 29, was taken to the University of Kentucky Medical Center, where she later died.

Lexington police obtained an arrest warrant Monday charging Nunn with murder in Ross's death. He also was charged with violation of a protective order — a charge that stems from an emergency protective order Ross obtained earlier this year.

What has transpired since Nunn's visit to his business Thursday has been troubling to Shelton.

"It's a terrible, terrible thing. I would have never dreamed of something like that happening," he said. "It made you sick that somebody was at your desk the day before and then something happens."

Shelton said investigators came Friday and took the paper that Nunn wrote on, and on Monday Shelton talked to Lexington police about Nunn's visit.

The stone, which is boxed up in Shelton's warehouse, once marked the grave of Beula Nunn, who originally was buried in Glasgow. Her body was moved to the cemetery beside Cosby United Methodist Church near the Barren County-Hart County line to be next to Nunn's father, former Gov. Louie B. Nunn.

Nunn had asked Shelton to retrieve the stone several months ago. He asked him to blast the letters off the stone so it was blank. Shelton got the stone back a couple of weeks ago. Nunn stopped by Shelton's shop about 3 p.m. Thursday.

When asked how he responded to Nunn's request, Shelton said, "I didn't say anything to him, I just kept working."

Then Shelton tried to find Nunn some help.

Shelton was so concerned about Nunn's request that he immediately began trying to find Nunn's friends. Shelton eventually reached out to a mutual friend.

Jimmy Bewley and Phillip Bale met with Nunn on Thursday night for dinner, though Bewley said he did not hear of Nunn's troubles from Shelton.

Bewley said he got a phone call that Nunn wasn't doing well. A friend told Bewley: "I don't know what's going on, but something's wrong."

Bewley called Nunn and didn't get an answer, so he called Bale, Nunn's doctor.

Nunn called him back and said, "We're going to go to dinner."

They dined at A Little Taste of Texas.

Bewley, who has been friends with Nunn for years, said they had dinner and Nunn seemed fine — the domestic violence situation never came up, Bewley said.

"I felt like he was OK, but apparently we were badly fooled," he said.

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