The body of a kidnapped 5-year-year-old Jackson County boy was located Monday during the third attempt to find the child since his injured mother was discovered at the bottom of a cliff two days earlier, police said.
The body of James Spoonamore was found six-tenths of a mile from where his mother, Jessica Durham, was rescued Saturday near Sparks Ridge Road, state police Commissioner Rick Sanders said. Police didn’t say how James died or release many details about the search or the case.
Durham told police that Lonnie Belt, 41, of McKee, was her assailant. Police located Belt at 1:39 p.m. Saturday and on Monday charged him with murder in the death of James Spoonamore. Belt also faces charges of kidnapping an adult and a child, assault and evidence tampering, police said.
Durham and her son were kidnapped as they were getting ready to go to the doctor, said Durham’s sister, Mary Batson. Durham had just put her son in the child seat in the back seat of their vehicle, Batson said.
Belt, a family acquaintance, arrived at the house and asked for help waking up Durham’s husband, David, who allegedly was in the house, Batson said. David Durham later told Batson and Jessica Durham’s mother that he wasn’t there, Batson said.
“She walked in there, and when she walked in, the guy hit her in the back of the head and she fell to the ground,” said Batson, who spoke with Durham on Sunday. “He got mad because she didn’t get knocked out with the first hit, so he hit her two or three more times. She would never knock out.”
Belt blindfolded Durham, tied her hands and put her in the car, with James in the back seat, Batson said. Belt drove, and when he stopped, he took off Durham’s blindfold and untied her hands.
Durham tried to fight back, but Belt shoved her down an 80-foot cliff, Sanders said. Durham told police that she last saw her son with Belt as she was forced over the cliff.
Jessica was found about 10:45 a.m. the next day, Saturday, by hikers, and she was taken to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. Batson said her sister has a broken ankle, a shattered pelvis, internal bleeding and head trauma. She is on oxygen but will live, Batson said.
“I just can’t understand why this would happen,” Batson said. “Jesse just stays to herself. She volunteers at the library and was looking for work. She is quiet and doesn’t put her business out there. Especially James. He just turned 5 last month and just started school. He’s a lovable kid all around. You can tell he’s momma’s boy.”
Belt was arrested at his home in McKee. He told police that he got into an argument with Jessica Durham about money, hit her in the head, tied her up, took her to a cliff and beat her again, according to court records. Belt acknowledged that the child was with his mother when he took Durham to the cliff. Belt didn’t initially tell police what happened to the boy or where the boy was, Batson said. He told police he painted over Durham’s blood in his house, which led to the evidence tampering charge. Police wouldn’t explain how the blood got there.
More than 200 people volunteered for the search for James, including K9 units and aircraft from the Kentucky National Guard. The search was concentrated in the area of Sparks Ridge and Turkey Foot roads. He was found about 9:30 a.m. Monday, 180 feet off Sparks Ridge Road in the Daniel Boone National Forest. An autopsy was scheduled in Frankfort.
“It’s a tragic day for all of us,” Sanders said. “It’s horrible any time you have a death. But when you have the death of a young child, it hurts even more.”