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Death of former pastor’s widow in Somerset church ruled murder

Ruthie Carolyn New, 70, was found dead in a storage room off the Somerset church’s activity room. Her death has been ruled a homicide but the cause of death is not being released.
Ruthie Carolyn New, 70, was found dead in a storage room off the Somerset church’s activity room. Her death has been ruled a homicide but the cause of death is not being released. WKYT

A Somerset woman who was found dead on Thursday in a church was murdered, perhaps late Tuesday or early Wednesday, according to Pulaski County coroner Clyde Strunk.

Strunk said Friday that Ruthie Carolyn New, 70, was found in storage room off an activity room of the Denham Street Baptist Church, which she helped to clean. Pastor Jeff Griffith found New around 3:40 p.m., Strunk said, after a search that began when her family members noticed her missing.

“The first call was a missing persons (call),” Strunk said. “Some of family was alarmed and called it in. So the pastor checked the facilities. He checked the activity center and found her.”

Strunk said after an autopsy Friday morning the death had been ruled a homicide; the cause of death is not being released at this time. Strunk said he thinks New had been dead for 24 to 36 hours. New’s car, a Toyota Corolla, also apparently is missing, Strunk said.

“It is definitely a homicide and leads are coming in continually, and we’re chasing everyone of them. I feel very confident in it being solved, sooner rather than later,” Strunk said. “Its just a sad time for our county because she was very well known in our community.”

Somerset Police Department is leading the investigation, which also involves the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office and Kentucky State Police.

According to WKYT, the Herald-Leader’s reporting partner, New was the widow of the founding Pastor J.S. New and a charter member.

“It’s a tightly knit church, tightly knit community. You just want to pray for them pray for the family and pray for this entire community that’s been affected by this. It’s a sad situation,” Somerset Police Department spokesman Mike Correll told WKYT.

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