A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Man charged with kidnapping, assault after woman seriously injured, son found dead in Jackson County

Kentucky State Police are investigating the kidnapping and assault of a Jackson County woman and her son.

In the morning hours of Saturday, September 9 around 10:45 a.m., the Kentucky State Police and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded to an injured female found by hikers. Jessica Durham was located and rescued at the bottom of an 80 foot cliff near Sparks Ridge Road.

Durham was able to describe to troopers how she and her son, James Spoonamore, age 5, were assaulted and kidnapped by Lonnie Belt, age 41 of McKee. Durham explained how she last saw her son, James, with their kidnapper as she was allegedly forced over the cliff by Belt. Durham was transported to University of Kentucky Medical Center for serious, but non-life threating injuries.

A search immediately ensued for Spoonamore with multiple agencies and hundreds of volunteers.  The search involved helicopters from KSP and the National Guard, riders on horseback, K-9 units and search by volunteers on foot.

KSP located Lonnie Belt for questioning at 1:39 p.m., and he was later taken into custody at 11:30 p.m. on September 9. Belt was lodged at the Jackson County Detention Center and charged with:  Assault 1st, Kidnapping-Adult, Kidnapping-Minor and Tampering with Physical Evidence.

The search continued for the young boy in the area of Sparks Ridge Road and Turkey Foot Road until he was found deceased on September 11 around 9:30 a.m. The body has been taken to the Medical Examiner’s office in Frankfort for an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death. Investigators are conferring with prosecutors to determine additional charges related to Spoonamore’s death, which are forthcoming.

Kentucky State Police were assisted by the Kentucky National Guard, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson County Search and Rescue, Jackson County EMS, U.S. Forest Service, Jackson County Coroner and numerous volunteers.

The investigation is ongoing by Kentucky State Police Post 7 Detectives. Updates will be released as they become available.

Kentucky State Police

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