Episode 101 Joan Kiger the Sleepwalking Killer of Covington Kentucky

In August 1943, 15 year old Joan Kiger was accused of murdering her father and younger brother. Her attorney claimed the sleepwalking defense saying Joan shot her family members while having a nightmare.

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In the summer of 1943, it was hard to imagine any front page headline that didn’t feature a story about World World II. The death of Covington, Kentucky Vice Mayor Carl Kiger did make national news because he and his six year old son Jerry were shot and killed in the family’s summer home, Rosegate.

Kiger’s wife was also shot but survived. The only member of the family who emerged from the home unharmed the night of the shooting was 15 year old Joan Kiger.

As vice mayor of Covington, which is directly across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati, Carl Kiger was rumored to be in the grips of organized crime because the Chicago and Cleveland mob were active in region. 

Kiger was rumored to be involved in racketeering, possibly a bag man delivering cash to individuals being bribed by the mafia. This was never proven but when word spread of the shooting at the Kiger’s summer home in Boone County, neighbors and even police immediately assumed it was a mob hit. Multiple weapons were used and the victims had been shot multiple times. If it was a mob hit, the shooting would have been tragic but not surprising.

When the Kiger’s 15 year old daughter Joan was arrested for the crime and charged with murder it sent shockwaves through Covington and across the country. Imagine the surprise when the public learned Joan was said to have wounded her mother and killed her father and brother while she was awakening from a nightmare. 

It’s been 78 years since the shooting at Rosegate but there are still questions and debate over what happened inside the Kiger’s home that summer of 1943.

Hear the story in the new episode of Southern Mysteries

Episode Photos

Mrs. Kiger, Joe Kiger and Joan Kiger in courtroom during Joan’s trial in 1943. Image: Boone County Kentucky Historical Society
Rosegate, date unknown. Image: Boone County Kentucky Historical Society
Rosegate, Interior front stairway. Date unknown. Image: Boone County Kentucky Historical Society

Episode Resources

Mother Loyal to Girl Held in Double Killing. The Rock Island Argus. August 19, 1943

Kiger Hearing Scheduled for Tuesday, Girl Calm as Murder Warrant is Filed. Cincinnati Enquirer. August 19, 1943

Startling New Angle Claimed in Double Slaying in Covington. The Park City Daily News. August 22, 1943

Murder Warrant Issued for Mrs. Carl Kiger. The Lexington Herald. December 7, 1943

Joan Virtually Admitted Slaying, State Declares. The Louisville Courier-Journal. December 18, 1943

Joan Kiger Takes Stand to Tell of Twin Killing. Owensboro Messenger. December 21, 1943.

Joan Kiger Found Not Guilty, All Other Charges Dismissed. Cincinnati Enquirer. December 22, 1943

Freed In Nightmare Murder, Joan Kiger is Called Maniac. Daily News. April 16, 1944

The Kiger Murders of 1943. Boone County Public Library Chronicles of Boone County. 

Kiger Murder. Have Your Say. 

Sleepwalking Killers. Psychology Today. December 13, 201211 Sleepwalking Killers from History Will Make You Want to Bar Your Doors At Night. History Collection. November 21, 2017

Music

Comfortable Mystery, Tranquility Base, Almost F in Tranquility, Dhaka, Lamentation, Colorless Aura and Dreams Become Real by Kevin MacLeod. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Source: http://incompetech.com

Theme Song “Dark & Troubled” by Pantherburn. Special thanks to Phillip St Ours for permission for use.



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