FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – A 5-year-old Jackson County boy, who had been missing for three days, was found dead Monday morning, according to the Kentucky State Police.
James Spoonamore was found about a half-mile from where his mother, Jessica Durham, was found injured Saturday, said Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders.
Sanders told reporters one of his troopers learned Saturday morning of a victim located 80 feet down a cliff in the Daniel Boone National Forest by some hikers.
“The trooper went to that location and found Jessica Durham, 31, who had fallen down that embankment,” Sanders said. “The trooper quickly found out that she had been assaulted and pushed down the embankment. The trooper also learned she was accompanied by her 5-year-old son.”
Durham identified her attacker as Lonnie Jay Belt, 41, of McKee, an acquaintance of the family. He was arrested and charged with first-degree assault, two counts of kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence and is lodged in the Jackson County Detention Center on $500,000 bond. Sanders said more charges are pending.
Durham was taken to UK Hospital in Lexington where she suffered from serious but non-life-threatening injuries. A search was immediately organized for her son on Saturday, Sanders said. More than 200 people searched the area assisted by K9s, aircraft from the Kentucky National Guard, KSP and volunteers, Sanders said.
The search continued during daylight hours all weekend and resumed Monday morning when the boy’s body was found about sixth-tenths of a mile from where his mother was found off Sparks Ridge Road.
“It’s a tragic day for all of us anytime we have a death, but when it’s a young child, it hurts even more,” Sanders said.
An autopsy will be performed at the State Medical examiner’s Office in Frankfort to determine the cause of death.
An arrest citation says Belt and Durham got into an argument about money. Belt allegedly hit her on the head, tied her up and took her to the cliff.