November 5, 2009

10/31/09: Isaac Ripberger, 28, California, KY

Isaac Ripberger, 28, walked away from a Halloween party at a house on Reis Lane in an unincorporated area of California, Kentucky and never came back or returned home.

Friends told police they last saw Ripberger on the front porch of the house at about 3:30 a.m. Sat., Oct. 31, 2009 while they were attempting to get their vehicle unstuck from the mud. Officer Steve Kush said, "It was cold and raining. "What few people were left at the party were trying to get the vehicle unstuck. He was waiting on the porch. Once they got the vehicle unstuck, no one could find him." Friends thought he went back into the house to spend the night, and did not realize he wasn't there until the next morning. They reported him missing. Friends reported that Ripberger may have been under the influence, and some speculated that he may have been injured.

The Boone County Water Rescue recovered Ripberger's body in a nearby lake on the afternoon of Sun., Nov. 1, 2009. The body was within sight of the house where the party was held. He was still wearing the 1920s style pinstripe suit he wore to the party--a Roaring '20s theme--but the jacket and tie were missing. An autopsy performed the following morning showed water in the lungs, indicated that Ripberger had drowned. There were no signs of foul play. "Our preliminary investigation shows that he most likely drowned," said Officer Steve Kush, with the Campbell County Police Department. "We haven't ruled out anything for sure. Things are looking toward an accidental drowning. We are following a couple of leads."

The Campbell County coroner's office is awaiting toxicology reports.

Police haven't determined why or how Ripberger ended up in the lake and they are investigating the incident.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Campbell County Police at 859-547-3100.

Facts in this Case:
Name/age: Isaac Ripberger, 28
Hometown: Covington, KY
Last seen: Fri, 10/30/09
Recovered: Sun., 11/1/09 4 p.m., in lake near Reis Lane
Physical Description: 5'7", 190 pounds, bald head. Last seen wearing a 1920s style pin-stripe suit with a white dress shirt, tie and black dress shoes.


justlogic said...

This is just very sad. His friends loved him and were in total shock. He seemed to be a very kind and giving person. I don't know what to say. Isaac I will keep you and your loved ones in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

His facebook is privatized, and it seems as if he may not really use it as much as myspace (due to the differential amount of friends), but the preview page indicates a relation to Cincinnati, Ohio.

Confirmation on that here:

BoyintheMachine said...

Weird. Another drowning death of a man in costume. I wonder all together how many have been compiled?

Lisa said...


To my knowledge, there have been 3 males wearing costumes (Jenkins, Jacobsen, Ripberger). I have also heard about 2 females (Cindy Song and Veronica Safranski).

Lisa said...


You're right on track, Ripberger was from Covington, KY, which is only 20 minutes away from Cincinnati. It would make sense for him to have relatives living there.

Covington is about 1 hour 45 minutes from Columbus, OH (2 disappearances).

The party was 40 minutes south of his hometown in Covington.

Anonymous said...

Isaac was one of my best friends, and I was there when they found his body in the lake. This article is the most detailed I've seen, and almost completely correct. There was a 10-15 minute slot from when Isaac was last seen to the time he was noticed missing. My friends started searching for him immediately, and when it was time for him to be at work the next morning, they called to see if he had called in. They knew for sure that it was a serious situation then, because he had NEVER missed work without calling in, and so they called the police. He had been missing for about six and a half hours at that point.
It's hard to believe he's really gone, that I'll never see him again.

Lisa said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Isaac's story is truly a tragedy that no one should have to endure, and there are so many unanswered questions.

Thank you for taking the time to leave a post and add to the timeline. It is particularly unsettling that he was only gone 10-15 minutes before everyone went looking for him. Have you formed any opinions as to what may have happened to him or how he ended up in the water?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I can't figure it out. The lake itself was man-made, and had a four foot shelf all the way around it as a safety precaution for children. My best friend, who Isaac was with at the party, says he must have fallen off the deck, which went out beyond the shelf. The problem I have with this is that the deck has a four foot high rail all the way around it with no opening to the water. It just doesn't seem likely that he would be able to go down to the deck, sit or stand on the rail, and accidently fall in and drown in the time that was available without anyone hearing anything. It's something I'll always puzzle over.
Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers, he was a great person and will be sorely missed. I made a tribute video on youtube if anyone would like to get a small taste of what he was like.

Lisa said...

What a great video and loving tribute to Isaac. Thank you for sharing!

How Isaac was able to enter the water without anyone hearing it has also stumped me from the beginning. It is even more mystifying to hear your report about the shelf and the deck with the railing.

I would imagine the shelf would make the lake more noticeable so a person walking around in the dark wouldn't accidentally fall into it. And both the shelf and the railing seem tall enough so that a person bumping into it wouldn't accidentally flip over it (especially for man of average height like Isaac).

I considered that maybe he was walking on the railing like a balance beam and slipped. But then I remembered it was raining that night. I can't see why a grown man would try to walk on a wet railing. (Drugs don't seem to be the case with Isaac.) So without another easy way to access the water from the deck, I am stumped as to how he could have accidentally fallen in from there. If you have any photos of the lake, I can post them and see what my readers think. My e-mail address is:

I did begin to wonder if maybe he became hypothermic that night. Sometimes people suffering from hypothermia overheat and try to cool themselves down by entering water or removing their clothes. (It doesn't take freezing weather to become hypothermic---just the right combination of cold temperature, too little clothing, precipitation, alcohol and length of exposure.) I know he had taken off his suit coat, but that is pretty common. Was he wearing his other clothing? Shoes?

But the one thing I keep coming back to is that no one heard him. Was the party pretty loud, or was there other noise? I got the impression is was a pretty quiet rural area. If that's the case, then I can't help but think he bumped his head or there was some other reason like that why no one heard him. Definitely mystifying.

Please feel free to e-mail me at if you'd like to talk this out some more.

Anonymous said...

The 4 ft shelf I mentioned isn't around the lake, it's in the lake. Basically it is like the shallow end of a swimming pool, but all the way around. Then it drops to 20 ft deep in the middle. That is what we were told by the police and rescue workers. Sorry for the confusion.
Isaac was wearing pants, shoes and socks, and a white t-shirt that I know of. He may have had a black button up shirt, but we were never told one way or another.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know the name of the pond if any one knows. A cross can be made and the following are on the same line. I probably need an O
Cumberland river


Luzio and Shaffer Columbus-unknown Scioto river goes through Columbus.

St Lawrence-Falcon-attended ST Lawrence University

Campbell-found in Raquette River.

Anonymous said...

adawns11 I am so sorry for your loss. I'm sure his passing leaves you wrestling for answers. You are not alone. Do you know if anyone has pictures from that evening of Isaac? It would be of some help to verify what exactly he was wearing and if anyone can remember how he was dressed before he went missing.( If anything is unaccounted for) My regards to you....adawns11 does your username has special meaning to you? If you don't mind me asking ...what does it mean? I'm just always so curious.