Crime

Man pleads not guilty to murders as search continues for couple’s bodies

Craig Pennington, 52, charged in the murders of a Northern Kentucky couple, enters a not guilty plea in court in Springfield.
Craig Pennington, 52, charged in the murders of a Northern Kentucky couple, enters a not guilty plea in court in Springfield. gkocher1@herald-leader.com

The man charged with with two counts of murder in the deaths of a Northern Kentucky couple pleaded not guilty in court Monday, and a judge set his bond at $2 million.

Craig Pennington, 52, was arraigned before Washington District Court Judge Connie Phillips. The plea was entered by public defender Virginia Phelps on Pennington’s behalf.

The judge scheduled a preliminary hearing in the case for July 18 . At that time, the judge will hear evidence to determine whether there is probable cause for a grand jury to consider an indictment.

Pennington was arrested Friday by Kentucky State Police and charged with killing Crystal Warner, and her boyfriend, Robert Jones, 38.

Warner and Jones, both of Florence, went missing July 3. Their car was found Friday off Interstate 75 in Scott County.

State police said Pennington rented a cabin from Jones on Texas Mackville Road east of Springfield. Warner and Jones went to the cabin to discuss the property with Pennington before they disappeared. Relatives of Warner alleged that Pennington was behind on the rent.

Jones, the father of three sons from a previous marriage, owned the cabin, Warner’s relatives said.

Asked how Pennington can be charged with murder if the bodies have not been found, Trooper Billy Gregory would only say that state police developed enough evidence to charge Pennington.

Meanwhile, Gregory said state police are trying to determine where the bodies might be, which is a tall order given that they lived in Florence, their car was found in Scott County and the cabin is in Washington County. Gregory said he couldn’t provide any other details about the investigation.

Meanwhile, Pam Warner Quintana of Springfield, Crystal Warner’s cousin, said she and a dozen other relatives searched the area around the cabin on Monday.

“We searched barns, ponds and around the fields,” said Norris Hardison of Harrodsburg, a great-aunt to Crystal Warner.

Asked what she would tell Pennington if she could speak to him, Quintana said, “If he knows where they’re at, let us know where we can find her body and put her at rest. ...my focus is on finding Crystal and Bobby.”

Pennington remains lodged in the Marion County jail in Lebanon.

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