When Matt Roth was just a young boy his father Kenneth Roth exposed him to unspeakable things. When he tried to tell others what he saw and knew about, no one believed him. Kenneth eventually got life in prison, but Matt believes his dad killed many more people.
Matt was adopted by his mom Kathy. She later married Kenneth Roth, who had already been convicted of a murder charge, when Matt was seven. Matt had heard stories about him, and his grandpa sat him down to explain that Ken had run away from home at 18 and needed cash so he robbed somebody. They claimed that he had not meant to kill the man he was robbing, but things had just gone wrong.
He had served 15 years for the murder, and Matt’s family believed he deserved a second chance. The young Matt accepted this explanation and thought that if he was now out of prison then he probably deserved to be out.
Ken soon turned violent
Matt’s best memories of Ken were playing card games with him. Things turned violent, however, pretty soon. In one scary instance, Ken told Matt about a fight he got in at prison where he claimed he had killed three people after being cornered. Matt laughed at the story because it was unbelievable, but this triggered Ken to choke Matt. His mom intervened, and Ken never touched Matt like that again.
Still, Ken’s continued to tell outlandish stories that Matt knew to never question.
Ken taught Matt all sorts of things: plumbing, hunting, trapping, construction, etc.
One day Ken and Matt were out animal trapping and found a large possum in a trap. He took a wooden club and started hitting the possum. He laughed when it didn’t die, and hit it over and over. “This thing won’t die,” he told Matt.
Matt thought his dad looked “demented” as he beat and tortured the possum. He seemed to be prolonging the violence against the possum because he was enjoying it. Matt was upset and was forced to carry the possum back with them. This incident made him think that maybe some of his violent stories were actually true.
Ken was a hitman
Ken wasn’t legally allowed to own guns because he was a felon, but that didn’t stop him from having a stockpile of firearms. He also carried a gun around with him everywhere.
He taught Matt to always wipe off guns and to never leave prints on a gun. He also confided to Matt that he was a “problem-solver” which was a euphemism for a hitman. Matt says he related at least 15 different problems he had “solved.” Sometimes he would disappear for a time. Matt believes he was doing “problem-solving” during these times.
The drafting table
Ken got angry one day when Matt saw a drafting table he wanted at a yard sale. Ken couldn’t negotiate a price he wanted for it, so he took Matt home and told him he would get him the table.
He came back later and took Matt back to the house. He told Matt to help him load up the drafting table quickly. He took a different route home.
Later, the police came to their door and asked Ken about a death. Looking back, Matt thinks that Ken murdered the woman who would not give him the price he wanted for the table. This made Matt feel responsible for her death. Ken was not arrested for this woman’s death because they didn’t have enough evidence to connect him to her death.
The death of Patty
Matt often went with Ken to his odd jobs. When he was 12 or 13, Ken took him to a job helping his friend Patty move. He told Matt to go down and wait in the truck. Soon, he had to go to the bathroom and entered the apartment.
Matt saw the woman, Patty, dead and bloody. He had just seen her alive minutes before. Matt couldn’t help but scream, and Ken grabbed him and took him downstairs. Ken told Matt there was an accident, and to never say that he was there.
Matt did tell his mother what he had seen that day, but she didn’t believe him. The cops showed up to question Ken about his friend’s death. Matt told the cops he wasn’t there, and there was no evidence, so they did not pursue Ken.
Eventually, Matt started to doubt if he was seeing or remembering things correctly. Because the police never took things further with Ken, and his mother didn’t believe him, Matt thought maybe he interpreted things wrong.
Matt was present for another murder during what was supposed to be a routine call about a security system. When Matt was in the other room he heard a loud noise, like a pop or a bang.
Ken said that he’d knocked something over and broke it. Matt walked by the living room and saw the woman they were helping on the couch with an ice pack on her head. She was not moving. Ken had Matt wipe down the door handle and all surfaces. He also made Matt set the alarm and close the door.
Two days later Matt heard that the woman had been shot. It had taken her husband a long time to realize that she was dead because he thought she was just laying on the couch with a headache.
The next day, police came to talk to Ken again. Matt didn’t talk to the cops, but he did tell a therapist, who told him that he was exaggerating. His mother also didn’t believe Matt when he told her what he knew.
Ken told Matt that the cops always came to him when there was a murder because he was “freshly out of jail.”
Ken did go back to prison, but not for murder
Ken wound up back in prison over a physical altercation with a business partner. When he got out of prison five years later, he attended Matt’s wedding.
He told Matt’s wife that he was willing to kill Matt’s baby’s mom, with who he was having trouble. She didn’t think he was being serious, but Matt knew that his dad was dead serious and was capable of killing his child’s mother.
Matt knew Linda Smith pretty well. A week before her death, she had been to a cookout at their home. Matt read about her gruesome death in the paper.
Matt confronted Ken about Linda’s death. Ken said he had heard about it, and he suspected that the police would come by soon, so he was leaving town.
Now, Matt was an adult and was ready to talk to the police. He told the police everything about what he thought happened.
Police were surprised that Matt knew details about what happened to Linda because he wasn’t there. Matt said he knew because what happened to her matches what happened to other women.
Matt then wore a wire for the police to catch his own father. He tried to get his father to talk candidly about murdering Linda and the other women he knew about.
Matt’s knowledge that his father always had a gun and would have shot him if he knew Matt was wearing a wire made him more determined to admit something. He was afraid of how many more people his father could have killed. However, Matt’s incessant questions might have made Ken suspicious about his intentions.
Someone started messing with Matt and his family. He was ran off the road with his son in the car. Some of their plumbing was loosened. Then their house windows were opened, their car batteries were disconnected. Things went missing, pictures were moved.
One night during family TV time, Matt noticed a red dot on his chest that then moved to his son. Matt told everyone to get down because he knew it was a laser sight on a gun. Matt was terrified.
He thinks Ken is responsible for all of these incidents, trying to intimidate Matt for possibly talking to the police.
Matt and his family moved immediately and lived in a basement for the next two years.
Ken was eventually arrested for illegally owning a firearm, and he got two years in prison. While incarcerated, a new sheriff came into town and investigated the murder of Linda Smith. In 2015, Ken was interrogated about Linda’s murder.
Ken was found guilty of Linda’s murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
Matt attended the trial. He’s angry that no one believed him over the years when he tried to tell people what was going on with Ken. If anyone had listened to him then, then Linda would still be alive. Still, he feels validated after Ken’s conviction.
He’s since had a lot of people reach out to him and apologize for not believing him. Still, speaking out against his dad has caused severance in the family as many members don’t want to believe that Ken is capable of the things he has done. One family member told Matt he “should have been grateful and shut his mouth.” They tried to guilt him for being a “snitch” on his dad.
Kenneth Roth died Sunday, May 3, 2020, of COVID-19.
Matt has considered writing Ken letters since his latest imprisonment, but never contacted him. Now that he’s dead Matt wishes he had corresponded with him to ask him “why” he did what he did.
After Ken’s death, Matt felt guilt over the fact that he had helped put his father in prison because he had to suffer and die alone. Still, he thinks he did deserve life in prison. He also misses the dad who gave him attention and taught him a lot growing up. Another part of Matt hates Ken for putting him through what he put him through.
Matt also still thinks that he was around three unsolved murders. He feels that it’s important for him to tell his story so the families of those victims will get some answers. He also thinks there were many more murders because of all the stories Ken told him over the years. Because of what he’s seen, he knows all the stories couldn’t have been lies.