Pastor charged in Danville triple homicide said his 'heart was broken' after deaths

gkocher1@herald-leader.comOctober 9, 2013 

Police on Wednesday charged a Pulaski County preacher in a Sept. 20 triple homicide in Danville.

Kenneth Allen Keith, 48, of Burnside was charged with three counts of murder and one count of first-degree robbery. He was transferred to the Boyle County jail early Thursday after initially being held in the Pulaski County jail, according to police.

Keith is charged in the shooting deaths of Michael Hockensmith, 35; his wife, Angela Hockensmith, 38; and Daniel Smith, 60. He will be arraigned on the charges Tuesday in Boyle District Court.

The shootings happened at the ABC Gold, Games and More pawn shop on South Fourth Street in Danville. The Hockensmiths ran the shop, and Smith was known to frequent the shop to buy gold.

Keith is a minister and operates a store called Gold Rush Gold Buyers in Somerset, the release said.

Tony Hockensmith, Michael Hockensmith's brother, said Keith was a former pastor of Michael Hockensmith and was the former owner of the pawn shop where the shooting occurred.

"Everybody's in shock. He was at the funeral," Tony Hockensmith said of Keith.

Tony Hockensmith said his brother bought the business from Keith a few months ago after managing the business for Keith for two years. Tony Hockensmith said he thought Keith had struggled financially and had to sell the business.

Tony Hockensmith also said he thought his brother had previously been selling gold to Keith, who had a gold business, and then began selling to Daniel Smith. "I guess that's where the problems started," Hockensmith said.

"We had our suspicions that it was somebody close," said Hockensmith. But he said, "Nobody expects this from a pastor."

Lee Ann Divine, whose husband, Steve Divine, had recently become a co-owner with Hockensmith in ABC, Gold, Games and More, said she has known Keith for several years. Lee Ann Divine said they knew Keith as "Allen."

David Crowe, a friend of the Hockensmiths', said Michael Hockensmith confided in him about Keith.

"It gives me chills," Crowe said. "I had spoken with Mike about a year ago, and he said something just wasn't right about the guy (Keith). That's the only guy Mike was ever concerned about."

Danville police detectives executed a search warrant with Kentucky State Police, Somerset police and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Searches were conducted at three locations in Pulaski County on Wednesday afternoon: the Gold Rush store; Main Street Baptist Church in Burnside, where Keith serves as pastor; and a parsonage where Keith lives next to the church, the release said.

Michael Hockensmith was a youth minister at a Baptist church in Mitchellsburg. His wife often helped him in the pawn shop. She also home-schooled the couple's 9-year-old son, Andrew, friends said.

Andrew was at the pawn shop with his sister, a toddler, when the robbery and shooting occurred. Andrew called 911, police said.

Police had said the shooter left through the store's garage door and went down a narrow alley between the pawn shop and a dry cleaners.

Investigators did not say how they were led to Keith.

On Sept. 21, a day after the killings, Keith expressed sympathy on what appears to be his Facebook page.

"No sleep at all, I am just in shock right now over this loss of three great people. We never know what is coming on the next breeze so breath deep the breath God gives you now," Keith posted.

He later made two comments on that post. The first said: "I also knew the third man he was a business client and good friend. Remember the Smith family also. His wife Sally." The second comment said: "Any of them would have give you the last dime they had if you needed it. no sense none at all. Dan had given money to support youth camp every year since I have known him. Mike and Angela were counselors. My heart is broken."

Keith was being held without bond Wednesday. It was unclear when he would be transferred to Boyle County.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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