NBC’s ‘Dateline: The Family Secret’ chronicles how Lloyd Ford, a father of three, was reported missing for nearly three decades before his remains were discovered, buried under his porch in Boise, Idaho, in September 2007. The episode features interviews with law enforcement officials and various family members, including the relative whose expose led to the discovery of the remains. If you’re interested in knowing more, including who killed Lloyd, we’ve your back. Let’s begin then, shall we?
How Did Lloyd Ford Die?
Lloyd Ford was born in the 1940s in Ainsworth in Brown County, Nebraska. The young man graduated from school and joined the Navy, sailing off to see the wide world from an aircraft carrier. When Lloyd returned to his hometown after his stint in the Navy, one of Ainsworth’s native girls caught his eye at the county fair. He and the woman married and gave birth to three children — Sandy Burke, Pamela, and Tommy. His eldest daughter, Sandy Burke, reminisced, “My dad was just a fun guy. He was very fun-loving. He loved people.”
Sandy added, “People loved him. People tended to gravitate toward my dad.” According to the show, Lloyd was very popular among women, with Pamela recalling, “All of the women around here had huge crushes on him and his brother, and I’ve always heard he had to have a woman in his life.” The episode noted he and his family moved west to Boise in Ada County, Idaho, where their third child — little Tommy — was born. The sisters — Sandy and Pamela — recalled how much their father loved fishing.
Sandy shared, “He would take us fishing, and we’d just bring strings of fish home, or sometimes we’d bring no fish home, but…” Pamela interjected, “We usually ate them for breakfast,” with her sister nodding in agreement. Sandy also noted, “And he just loved to have us with him. He would get down on the floor, and we’d crawl all over him.” However, the family’s happiness did not last long, with their biological mother packing up and leaving for Nebraska as Lloyd started courting a new woman — Judy Gough.
Pamela lamented, “A lot of times, in divorces, a child will take one side or the other, and I took my mom’s. My dad was the bad guy. My dad did something to make my mom leave.” Yet, Lloyd’s affection for his children did not lessen as he married Judy in 1973. She was twice divorced and had three kids from earlier marriages, including her only daughter, Kimberly Wright. According to the show, the newlyweds lived on the 4700 block of Clark Street in Boise, where Lloyd drove long-haul trucks while Judy styled hair.
The couple joined the Shriners, went bowling, and planned fishing trips. Tommy, Lloyd’s youngest child, lived with him and Judy, while Pamela and Sandy stayed with her mother in Nebraska and rarely visited. By 1980, Sandy, 20, went to college but routinely called her father every week until her stepmom answered the phone one day. The former recalled, “When I first called, Judy told me he was away on business.” Sandy called again a few days later, and Judy notified her he had not returned. She received the same response when she phoned the following week.
Sandy stated she was suspicious since her father never stayed away from home for more than a couple of days. She said, “I called my mom. So I think my mom called out to Judy, and she said, well, the truth was she thought that Lloyd had run off with another woman, and she didn’t think he was coming back.” Eventually, Lloyd’s father hired a private investigator that summer to look for him. Sandy recalled how her grandfather arrived every week to give the updates he had received.
Who Killed Lloyd Ford?
According to the show, the family heard various stories — Lloyd had shifted to Michigan, boarded a plane but missed his connecting flight, and even a story about how he was on Mount St. Helens when it erupted. As weeks turned into months and then years, they eventually gave up on their search for their missing son and father. The devastated family and children felt abandoned until nearly three decades later — a horrifying family secret was exposed. Lloyd’s remains were found in a trunk buried in the backyard of his Boise home in September 2007.
There was not much left of the body except for seven bone fragments. But the police were unprepared for the incredible tale of evil that Kimberly had been keeping secret for so many years until she confessed everything to her boss, Gary Ziegler, in 2007. She stated she was 12 that afternoon in 1980 when her mother, Judy, sent her to the store to purchase a bottle of sleeping pills. The latter proceeded to crush those pills and mix them in Lloyd’s favorite dessert — ice cream with butterscotch topping.
Judy mixed more of those crushed pills in Lloyd’s coffee, soup, and ice cream and fed them to him the following morning. While the boys were sent to school, she made Kimberly stay home and asked her to clean out a trunk before bringing it in. When she brought the chest, Judy had her 12-year-old cover her ears as she shot her drugged husband in front of her daughter. Afterward, she had Kimberly and her brother, Shane, help her bury the body in their backyard. The police eventually identified ten of Judy’s family members who knew the secret.
The authorities enlisted 40-year-old Kimberly’s help to get Judy, then 61, to confess her crimes on record before arresting her on September 28, 2007. The latter accused Lloyd of being abusive and stated she did what she did to protect her family. However, his daughters vehemently denied the abuse allegations, with Sandy commenting, “No abuse. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.” Judy was charged with first-degree murder until she negotiated a deal a few days before her trial in 2009.
According to the plea deal, Judy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and confessed to the crime. The prosecution dropped the additional charge of using a deadly weapon to commit a crime. Still, Judy’s confession differed significantly from Kimberly’s version of events. She claimed she was sitting on the bed with her gun when her daughter shouted, “Do it, do it, do it. Just do it.” Judy threw Kimberly under the bus to save herself and was sentenced to ten years in prison in March 2009 per her plea negotiations.
Read More: Judy Gough: Where is Lloyd Ford’s Wife Now?