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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  • by Anonymous on Dec 21, 2007 at 02:56 PM
    i think if u kill some one u should get life in prison with hard tv no phone no visiters. just hard work. then people think before they kill..i could see it if some one is braking in your home .then shoot them..but just out to kill..prison for life i think.hard labor
  • by Anonymous on Dec 21, 2007 at 02:48 PM
    this one gets 40 years in prison i just read on another murder where man killed his wife he got 5 years..this is very strange.. why dont this man get 5 years to..owell.
  • by j Location: ky on Dec 20, 2007 at 02:14 PM
    The justice system is really sending a bad message to people. If you murder someone you may get prison time. But it all depends on when you get caught. Tony Hodge was sitting in prison doing time for murder to begin with. What is more time going to do for him? I believe it is not truly justice for Mr.Smith's family. Also another question would be where is the other suspect that was with tony? Its all very sad.Prayers go out to the Smith family.
  • by Tara Location: Pa on Dec 20, 2007 at 05:08 AM
    I just want to say sorry to my aunt for the loss of matthew and that he is with god now and all's that we can do is pray and remember all the good times that we had with matthew and all the laughs that we shared with him and all the times he made us laugh I remember when we were little and we would all get together and just have a good time. What we all need to do (meening family) is just remember all the good times that we had with matt and remember how he made us laugh and smile matthew you will be missed and always loved. god be with you.
  • by Michelle Location: michigan on Dec 19, 2007 at 01:39 PM
    Matt was a very much loved and missed part of our family. For the four years prior to his known whereabouts, we prayed continually and believed that when he was done sewing his "wild oats" he would wake up and realize how good he had it and come home. A missing person report was not filed because he was a grown man who made a decision to leave home and not make contact with anyone, so we all assumed that he was out there somewhere and would call eventually. To get the news that he was dead was get the news that he had been dead since 2004 was heartbreaking- but to get the news that he died in such a horrific way- while we all went on with our lives believing that he would soon return to his mother has been a true nightmare. Matts family is a family of faith and we need and apreciate all of your prayers. Every young man or woman loses their way- we were all waiting for him with love and forgiveness. We just didn't know he'd already gone to God.
  • by m Location: ky on Dec 19, 2007 at 08:19 AM
    I am just curious about the other suspect?? The name Douglas Hall was mentioned in both of his murder convictions. What is happening to our justice system.
  • by Tara Location: Pa on Dec 19, 2007 at 06:52 AM
    Matthew was my cousin and I loved him very much the guy that killed him I am so glad that he is in jail already the only thing that matters now is that the mystery is solved about my cousin and he will be missed deeply. I also think that the justice system is just wasting space in jail when he should be on death row and not have a warm bed and a tv and a hot meal he doesn't deserve it.
  • by Tara Location: Pa on Dec 19, 2007 at 06:32 AM
    Matthew was my cousin and to say I hate the man who killed him is being to nice there are no words to decribe how I feel and I hope the justice system does the right thing and gives this man the death penalty by leathal injection.
  • by c Location: fkt on Dec 19, 2007 at 04:58 AM
    This low life has killed two people and yet he gets to live peacefully in prison with his colored TV, weight room, 3 meals a day, free room and board, and a free education! Some more punishment! No wonder our prisons are full! Prison is better to these lowlives than some of us living "free" have it! He's killed two people and should be executed, not rewarded!
  • by Lisa Location: KY on Dec 18, 2007 at 10:56 PM
    This is the type of situation that warrants the death penalty and the use of it.
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