Suspect admits he killed man and burned home

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

A Pike County man admits he killed a man and then helped burn his home down.

Jeffery Lowe is one of four people accused of killing Millard "Mitty" Thornhill and setting his home on fire.

On May 19th, Thornhill's trailer in Hatfield burned, and firefighters found his body inside. The medical examiner says he was shot to death before the fire started.
Police say robbery was the motive for the murder.

Lowe, Randy Thomas, Cynthia Ryan, and Shannon Turner were indicted on murder and robbery charges.

Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Bartley offered Lowe a plea deal to reduce the murder charge to manslaughter.

Monday morning, Lowe accepted the deal and pleaded guilty to both manslaughter and robbery.

Jeffery Lowe told the judge he is partly responsible for the death of Millard Thornhill.
During court, Judge Eddy Coleman asked Lowe if he knew what he was accused of doing. When Lowe answered yes, Judge Coleman asked, "Can you tell me what that is?" Lowe answered, "Supposedly killing Mr. Thornhill and robbing him." Judge Coleman asked, "Did you in fact engage in that conduct?" Lowe answered "Yes sir."

Then Lowe pleaded guilty to manslaughter and robbery.

Lowe wiped away tears when the commonwealth's attorney recommended a twenty year sentence, ten years for manslaughter and ten years for robbery to be served consecutively. He will be sentenced on January 27th, 2012.

Thornhill's family lives in West Virginia and was not in court. They told WYMT on the telephone they do not agree with the plea deal.

Lowe's defense attorneys did not comment after the hearing.

Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Bartley did not comment on the guilty plea due to pending cases against the other three suspects.

Two of the suspects, Cynthia Ryan and Shannon Turner, are undergoing mental evaluations to see if they are competent for trial.

Ryan, Turner, and Thomas are due in court for a pre-trial conference on January 5th, 2012.

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