Kidnapping leads to 5-year-old's death, woman pushed off 80-foot cliff

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A man has been taken into custody and is facing murder charges in Jackson County after a kidnapping led to a young boy’s death and his mother pushed off an 80-foot cliff in eastern Kentucky.

Kentucky State Police say they assisted the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office after an injured 41-year-old Jessica Durham was found by hikers on Sparks Ridge Road September 9.

Durham told authorities that she and her son, 5-year-old James Spoonamore, were kidnapped and assaulted by 41-year-old Lonnie Belt.

Faced with serious but non-life threatening injuries, Durham was able to tell authorities that she last saw her son as Belt allegedly forced her over the cliff. She was later transported to University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington.

Police began the frantic search for little James with help from volunteers, helicopters, the National Guard, riders on horseback and K-9 units. The search continued throughout the weekend until James’ body was found early Monday morning in the area of Sparks Ridge and Turkey Foot Roads. His body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Frankfort. No immediate cause of death was given.

Belt was located and taken in for questioning and later arrested.

He’s charged with murder, assault, kidnapping-adult, kidnapping-minor and tampering with physical evidence.

The investigation is ongoing. 

 

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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