Man killed in Floyd crash was questioned in former wife's 2002 disappearance

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comFebruary 4, 2013 

The Floyd County man who was killed Sunday in a single-vehicle crash had been questioned in the 2002 disappearance of his former wife, Floyd County Coroner Greg Nelson said. The Lexington woman has never been found.

Bill L. Crider, 49, of Prestonsburg was driving west on Ky. 194 in the Cow Creek community when his vehicle left the road, went over an embankment and overturned, coming to rest on its top, according to a news release from Kentucky State Police.

Crider was pronounced dead at the scene. Nelson said snow-covered roads caused the wreck.

Nelson said Crider's current wife, whose name was not immediately available, was flown to a hospital in Huntington, W.Va., for treatment.

Bill Crider had been in the news for years. He was questioned in the disappearance of Joyce Gaines Crider of Lexington and, most recently, he was involved in a federal prescription drug case.

Crider pleaded guilty in October to one count of distributing oxycodone in Wolfe County on March 17, 2009. That case, unrelated to his wife's disappearance, was in U.S. District Court in Lexington. He was scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 13. Crider had faced up to 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and supervised release of at least three years, according to court documents.

Joyce Crider's disappearance was mentioned in several letters from her family and friends that were included in the court file in the drug case. Bill Crider was never charged in Joyce Crider's disappearance.

Joyce Crider was last seen Oct. 27, 2002, when she told a friend she was going to see Bill Crider at the Holiday Inn on Athens-Boonesboro Road, where he was staying.

The couple had been married less than three years and were divorcing. Joyce Crider's brother, Mike Gaines, has said she had been scheduled to give a deposition in the divorce case two days after her disappearance. Sworn police statements said she intended to implicate Bill Crider in insurance fraud. Her car was found in a Lexington parking lot more than a month after she went missing.

Bill Crider had maintained his innocence, telling a reporter in 2006 that he had proof that Joyce Crider was alive. The couple's divorce was finalized in 2003, without Joyce Crider.

In Bill Crider's recent federal drug case, U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell ordered that letters from Joyce Crider's mother and other family and friends be entered into the record. In one letter, Joyce Crider's mother, Joan E. Gaines, described the Criders' relationship and events before her daughter's disappearance.

"My daughter owned a house on Dayton Avenue before she married Bill Crider," Gaines wrote. "After they had been married a short time, the house burnt. ...

"After her house burnt, she bought another house on Jason Court with her insurance money. They lived there for three months before separating. While separated, they went away for a weekend to see if they could work things out. After getting home, she went back to his hotel to tell him that she was 'not' going to resume the relationship with him. She was never seen again. The very next day, he was trying to take possession of all of her property. It has been 10 years as of October 27, 2012, when Joyce told her friend that she was on the way to Bill's hotel."

A letter from a woman who said she was a family friend also was entered into the court record.

"I am writing to beg that when you review the records on Mr. Crider, you keep in mind that what he is being charged with is only a fraction of the many crimes that he has committed," said a letter signed by Debra Carroll Eddy.

"Please keep in mind that this small victory may be the only one that this family gets in the 10-year battle to get some justice for Joyce," Eddy's letter said.

On Monday, Lexington police again asked for new tips in the open case.

"We want to redirect the focus onto the missing person," Sgt. Pete Ford said at a news conference. "We want people, if they have any information in regards to her whereabouts, to give us a call and let us know.

"If they have a lead, if there's something they've heard, something they think they may know — anything that could help that family and help us in locating Joyce Crider, we greatly appreciate that."

In an interview Monday, Gaines said she hoped someone would come forward with more information about her daughter's death, now that Crider is dead.

Staff writer Greg Kocher contributed to this story. Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 230-5209.

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