A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Jackson County case that resulted in death of five-year-old, beating of mother sent to grand jury

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The case of a Jackson County man, accused of killing a five-year-old and severely beating his mother, is being sent to a grand jury.

Lonnie Belt, 41, had a preliminary hearing on Monday in Jackson District Court. He’s accused of killing 5-year old James Spoonamore, after beating Jessica Durham and throwing her from a cliff.

Lonnie Belt

WYMT-TV reports Detective Charles Brandenburg testified the beating and murder spurred from an argument about $200 allegedly stolen from Belt by Durham’s husband and the boy’s stepfather.

Belt reportedly schemed to kidnap Durham and Spoonamore and keep them until he was paid $200. The detective said Belt’s plans changed and he ended up beating Durham and killing Spoonamore, who had witnessed his mother being assaulted and kicked from a 77-foot cliff.

The youngster had been missing for three days before searchers found him on Sept. 11, about a half mile from where Durham was found, in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

It’s not known when the Jackson County grand jury will take up the case.

Belt is currently charged with murder, two counts of kidnapping, first-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence. He remains lodged in the Jackson County Detention Center on $1 million bond.

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