DANVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Danville Police report an arrest has been made in connection to a triple homicide investigation.
The police arrested Kenneth Keith, 48. He is a pastor from Main Street Baptist Church, in Burnside, Ky., and is lodged in the Pulaski Co. Jail. Keith is also a gold buyer with a business in Somerset.
On Wednesday, Danville Police Department detectives, in collaboration with the Kentucky State Police, Somerset Police and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms executed search warrant on three locations associated with Keith, according to updates to the Danville Police Department's Facebook page.
Keith’s Somerset Ky. business, Gold Rush Gold Buyers at 2520C Monticello Street, the Main Street Baptist Church in Burnside, Ky. where Keith served as pastor and Keith’s residence, a parsonage adjacent to the church, according to the updates.
The murders happened in September at a Danville pawn shop.
The store owners Mike and Angela Hockensmith and their customer Daniel Smith were all shot and killed in what police are calling a botched robbery.
Keith is being held at the Pulaski County Jail awaiting transfer to Boyle County.
Duke Lewis, Michael Hockensmith's father, describes this as a difficult time but says his family now has some closure.
They say they were very surprised to learn Kenneth Allen Keith was charged. Lewis said his son and Keith knew each other for some time. They both served at the Main Street Baptist Church in Burnside.
Keith apparently even went to the funeral of his alleged victims.
As for the Hockensmith’s two kids, Lewis said they have joint custody and are asking for prayers. Lewis also said they will be there through every step of the legal process.
The 9-year-old son of Michael Hockensmith, 34, and Angela Hockensmith, 38, is hailed as a hero by family friends for protecting his 18-month-old sister.
"He, uh, excuse me. He grabbed his little sister up and he carried her into the office and he covered her with his body and, it's just, he's a hero," said Steve Divine, a friend of the family. Divine co-owned ABC Gold, Games and More with the Hockensmith's.
Just after 9:00 Friday morning, Sept. 20, police say the young boy called 911 to report a robbery at his parents' shop on S. 4th Street in Danville. When officers arrived, they found Mike, Angela, and a customer, 60-year-old Daniel Smith shot to death. The couple's children were not hurt, but the shooter was gone. "He exited through the garage door of the business there, went through the alleyway between the dry cleaning and the pawn shop there," explained Danville Police Chief Tony Gray.
As other business owners in the area showed up to work, word spread about the horrific crime.
"Here's a 9-year-old who has to pick up the telephone and dial 911 and begin to tell a stranger, someone has just shot my mother and my father," said James Gage who owns a cigar shop right across the street from the Hockensmith's store, "I can't imagine what that child was going through." Divine agreed, "It's just a senseless act. I don't know why anyone would do something like that."
Friends describe a family very involved in their community. Mike was a youth pastor at Mitchellsburg Baptist Church. The family was housing a foreign exchange student.
"Everyone that knew them, just knew that they were awesome people. There wasn't anything fancy about them, but they cared," Divine said. He has a message for whoever killed his friends. "You're a cowardly son of a b---. Excuse my language. You're cold-hearted, you've ruined a family, you've ruined a young man, a beautiful family, and I hope when they catch you, I hope they hang you by your eyeballs."
An account has been set up at PNC Bank called the Mike and Angela Hockensmith Memorial Fund to cover funeral expenses and care for the couple's children who are now with their grandparents. Donations can be made at any PNC Bank with a routing number 083000108 and account number 3013896575.
Photos are courtesy of The Advocate Messenger. Click here for more.