KSP: Boy reported missing in Jackson County found dead

Published: Sep. 10, 2017 at 1:51 PM EDT
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Kentucky State Police say searchers found the body of a five-year old boy in Jackson County.

Commissioner Rick Sanders held a news conference on Monday afternoon with new details in their investigation. Sanders would not identify the victim, but did say he was found less than a mile from where hikers found the boys injured mother.

The boy's family identified him as five-year-old James Spoonamore.

The family tells WKYT the boy's mother, Jessica Durham, is in critical condition at UK Hospital.

Police have now charged Lonnie Jay Belt with murder, assault, kidnapping an adult, kidnapping a minor, and tampering with physical evidence.

Investigators say he kidnapped Durham and her son. Police say he beat her and threw her over a cliff off Highway 89. Hikers eventually found Durham. Police say she had injuries to her head and possible broken bones. Durham was able to tell investigators that her five-year old son was with her during the assault.

According to his arrest citation, Belt admitted that he got into an argument with Durham about money and hit her in the head, tied her up, took her to the cliff and beat her again.

Investigators say Belt also admitted James was with Jessica when he took her to the cliff.

On Sunday, more than 200 people took part in a massive search effort to look for James Spoonamore. They came out again on Monday morning before calling off the search.

State Police say they found a child's body at 9:31 a.m. about 180-feet off Sparks Ridge Road.

Belt faces an evidence tampering charge because police say he painted over Jessica Durham's blood at his residence. Sanders said subsequent charges will be filed after talking with the Commonwealth's Attorney. On Monday afternoon, police did add a murder charge.

The boy's body is at the State Medical Examiner's Office in Frankfort for an autopsy.