5-year-old boy watches his mother get thrown from a cliff before he is bludgeoned to death with metal object

The five-year-old boy found dead on Monday after his mother was thrown off a cliff was brutally murdered by the same man who nearly killed his mother.

WKYT reports that Lonnie Belt has been charged with the murder of James Spoonamore, 5, who was found dead Monday in Jackson County, Kentucky, after a three-day search. On Saturday, hikers found the little boy’s mother badly injured at the bottom of a cliff.

Belt reportedly confessed to police that he kidnapped James and his mother, Jessica Durham, from their home on Friday morning and took them both to a wooded area. He allegedly assaulted Jessica and tossed her from a 100-foot cliff, presumably in front of the five-year-old boy.

He then took the boy to a nearby wooded area, and reportedly confessed to hitting him in the head with a metal object multiple times. Earlier reports indicated the boy may have also fallen or been thrown from a cliff but Belt’s confession indicates otherwise. It appears that the suspect brought the boy to the same location where his body was later found, and there is no indication that he admitted to tossing him over a ledge, just that he left the body in a wooded area.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, James was found dead Monday morning. By that time, police had already gone to Belt’s home looking for more information about the boy. When his mother was found, she reportedly told police that Belt had taken the boy. When police initially questioned him, he would not reveal the boy’s whereabouts. He was taken into custody on Saturday night and charged with kidnapping and tampering with evidence.

Belt has since been charged with murder. He is due for an arraignment on September 18.

The boy’s mother is reportedly in critical condition after several surgeries following her assault and fall.

Jessica Durham’s sister-in-law, Jessica Odell, spoke to WKYT about the horrific tragedy.

“It was probably one of the hardest things I’d ever be able to hear,” Odell said. “He was the happiest baby you could ever meet.”


Feature photo: Police handout