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Suspect Identifies Man He Admitted To Killing

A mystery, nearly four years in the making, is finally solved today.

Police in Laurel County now say they know the identity of a man found in a burned out barrel in the Lily community this summer. They're releasing his identity, just a day after the man charged in that murder pleaded guilty.

Detectives say the body belongs to Matthew R. Smith of Pulaski County. Investigators say Tony Hodge killed Smith in January of 2004, then hid his body.

Back in June, a person who lives in the Lily community of Laurel County discovered the burned out barrel. It had been dumped into a pond which had just been drained.

Police also found a burned out pick up truck at the scene. That's how they linked the murder to Tony Hodge.

Hodge was already in jail on a murder charge out of Madison County when he was charged in the Laurel County death.

As part of Hodge's plea deal, which he entered Monday he had to tell Laurel County detectives who the victim was and what happened.

We're told Hodge admitted shooting Smith in a drug deal gone bad, then he set his body on fire before dumping it in the pond.

A missing person's report had never been issued for Smith.

Hodge will be sentenced for Smith's murder next month. He's expected to get 40 years in prison.

He's already serving a life sentence for a Madison County murder which he pleaded guilty to in September.


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