In a horrific case out of Kentucky, a 5-year-old has been found dead after missing for three days in Jackson County. The little boy vanished after his mother, 41-year-old Jessica Durham, was thrown over a cliff and left for dead on Friday, September 7. According to authorities, she was found at the bottom of a 100-foot cliff on Saturday, battered, bruised, and suffering from broken bones, but alive.
After Durham was found alive and injured on Saturday, attention turned to 5-year-old James Spoonamore. That’s because after her discovery, the 41-year-old mother was able to tell investigators who had hurt her. According to the wounded and terrified mother, the man who had thrown her over a cliff and separated her from 5-year-old James was none other than 41-year-old Lonnie Belt. Durham told authorities that Belt had kidnapped and assaulted her and little James, ultimately separating the mother and son and throwing Jessica Durham off of a 100-foot cliff.
While investigators haven’t addressed the relationship between Belt, Durham, and James Spoonamore, Lonnie Belt was arrested on Saturday evening. As Fox News reports, authorities initially arrested the suspect in connection with the abduction and assault of Jessica Durham and her son James, telling the public that the injured woman and suspect had gotten into an argument about money.
As the Lexington Herald-Ledger reports, the harrowing experience of Jessica Durham and 5-year-old James Spoonamore allegedly began on Friday, when the pair were kidnapped from their home by Lonnie Belt. The 41-year-old suspect reportedly showed up when the mom and her son, who had just begun kindergarten, were getting ready for a doctor’s appointment.
Belt reportedly arrived at the family’s home and demanded that Durham help him wake up her husband, David, who was sleeping in the house. When she turned around to do so, Belt allegedly began physically assaulting her.
“She walked in there and when she walked in, the guy hit her in the back of the head and she fell to the ground. He got mad because she didn’t get knocked out with the first hit so he hit her two or three more times. She would never knock out.”
Belt would allegedly go on to blindfold Durham, tie her hand, and toss her into the backseat of his vehicle, along with little James Spoonamore. The suspect then drove the restrained mother and her 5-year-old child to the edge of a 100-foot cliff. When he arrived at his destination, Belt allegedly removed Durham’s blindfold and untied her hands. When she attempted to fight back, the victim says that Belt pushed her off of the cliff, driving away with James.
When she was found by hikers the next morning, Jessica was suffering from catastrophic injuries. According to her sister, Jessica Durham’s injuries include head trauma, internal bleeding, a broken ankle, and even a shattered pelvic bone. At this time, her medical treatment includes supplemental oxygen, but the 41-year-old is expected to survive.
“I just can’t understand why this would happen. Jesse just stays to herself. She volunteers at the library and was looking for work. She is quiet and doesn’t put her business out there. Especially James. He just turned 5 last month and just started school. He’s a lovable kid all around. You can tell he’s momma’s boy.”
After she was found, investigators arrested Lonnie Belt and turned their attention to finding 5-year-old James Spoonamore. Local police, the National Guard, K-9 searchers, volunteers, and even air-support helicopters joined in the search for James, hoping to bring the Kentucky boy home alive and well. Unfortunately, on Monday, the worst case scenario in the case was confirmed.
Kentucky 5-year-old James Spoonamore was found dead not far from where his mother was found badly injured on Saturday morning. Police have not yet released a suspected cause of death in the case. Since the discovery of the body of James Spoonamore, Donnie Belt has been charged with murder, assault, kidnapping, and tampering with physical evidence in the grisly Kentucky crimes.
[Featured Image by Sand Gap Fire Department]