STATE POLICE: Woman kidnapped, thrown off 80-foot cliff, her 5-year-old son found dead


McKee, Ky. (September 11, 2017) – Kentucky State Police are investigating the kidnapping and assault of a Jackson County woman and her son.

In the morning hours of Saturday, September 9th around 10:45 a.m., the Kentucky State Police and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded to an injured female found by hikers. Jessica Durham was located and rescued at the bottom of an 80 foot cliff near Sparks Ridge Road. Jessica was able to describe to troopers how she and her son, James Spoonamore, age 5, were assaulted and kidnapped by Lonnie Belt, age 41 of McKee. Jessica explained how she last saw her son, James, with their kidnapper as she was allegedly forced over the cliff by Belt. Jessica Durham was transported to University of Kentucky Medical Center for serious, but non-life threating injuries.

A search immediately ensued for James Spoonamore with multiple agencies and hundreds of volunteers. The search involved helicopters from KSP and the National Guard, riders on horseback, K-9 units and search by volunteers on foot.

KSP located Lonnie Belt for questioning at 1:39 p.m., and he was later taken into custody at 11:30 p.m. on September 9th. Belt was lodged at the Jackson County Detention Center and charged with: Assault 1st, Kidnapping-Adult, Kidnapping-Minor and Tampering with Physical Evidence.

The search continued for the young boy in the area of Sparks Ridge Road and Turkey Foot Road until he was found deceased on September 11th around 9:30 a.m. The body has been taken to the Medical Examiner’s office in Frankfort for an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death. Investigators are conferring with prosecutors to determine additional charges related to Spoonamore’s death, which are forthcoming.

Kentucky State Police have charged Lonnie Belt with murder in the death of James Spoonamore.

Kentucky State Police were assisted by the Kentucky National Guard, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson County Search and Rescue, Jackson County EMS, U.S. Forest Service, Jackson County Coroner and numerous volunteers.

The investigation is ongoing by Kentucky State Police Post 7 Detectives.