LOCAL NEWS

Local News 2-25-2013

Deceased Bodies of a Missing Johnson Co. Couple Located

According to Johnson Co. Sheriff Dwayne Price, the Johnson Co. couple, who has been reported missing for several months, have been located. Now this case moves from a search for the two, has moved turned into a homicide investigation. Late Friday night, the buzz around Johnson Co. was that the missing couple, Sandara (Sandy) and Larry Blanton, bodies had been located on their family farm at Oil Springs. Initial reports swirled on local chat rooms like Twitter and Facebook, that the bodie had been located, that prompted Sheriff Price to send out a message on the JCSO facebook page that the bodies had not been located, that was around 11 pm Friday evening, but at around 11:30 pm, Sheriff Price sent out a news release that stated that indeed the bodie of Sandara (Sandy) and Larry Blanton have been found, buried near the barn on the family's property.  The Sheriff Dept said the two where found buried 4 to 5 feet underground in the same hole. An official identification from the State Medical Examiner came later over the weekend.  Sheriff Price said that his office received a reliable tip late Friday evening telling them where the bodies could be located and working off that tip investigators began digging on the Blanton family farm late Friday night and continued well into Saturday morning. Family members say they are deeply saddened of the discovering, but are thankful the ordeal is over and they know what the outcome is now. They said they never gave up hope of locating the couple, but would had preferred a happier ending. Now the big question or questions is who did it, why did they do and how did they do it? Fingers are pointing to the couple's son Willie Blanton, who is behind bars for drimes related to this case, along with his girlfriend Amanda Fannin, who is also behind bars for a variety of charges, both have been person(s) of interest in this case.

KSP Investigating Fatal Collision in Carter County

According to a news release from the KSP, troopers are investigating a collision that occurred Saturday afternoon around 3:24 pm on KY State Route 1444 in Carter County, KY. The victim, 17 year old Lewis J. Fankell of Grayson , KY , was operating a Pontiac Firebird eastbound on KY 1444 when he lost control of the vehicle, traveled over an embankment and struck a tree.  Mr. Fankell was pronounced deceased at the scene by Carter County Deputy Coroner Ronnie Wallace. Due to the severity of the collision seatbelt usage has not been determined.  Alcohol usage is not suspected at this time.  The Carter County Sheriff’s Department, Carter County EMS , Grayson Fire Department and Carter County Coroner’s Office assisted with the investigation. Tpr. Shane Copley is the investigating officer.

Lee Co. Drug Roundup Marks 4,000th UNITE Arrest

Operation UNITE made its 4,000th drug-related arrest during a roundup of suspected dealers in Lee County on Friday, February 22. Law enforcement officers had arrested 17 of 25 individuals sought in the sweep and seized a small quantity of marijuana by mid-afternoon. UNITE detectives have been investigating reports of street-level to mid-level dealers operating in Lee County since early 2012. During the investigation officers were able to purchase a variety of drugs from heroin and methamphetamine to Percocet and Lortabs. UNITE detectives were assisted by Lee County deputies, Beattyville Police officers, Kentucky State Police troopers and the Lee County Constable in serving arrest warrants on Friday. The UNITE Drug Task Force began conducting roundups on April 6, 2004, the culmination of investigations within the eight-county Kentucky River region. At the time it was the largest drug sweep in Kentucky history, targeting 210 individuals. On July 27, 2005, Operation UNITE became only the second law enforcement drug task force in the state to become accredited by the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police, reflecting that they met or exceeded 157 professionally accepted standards of law enforcement. The Task Force was reaccredited for another five years in 2010.

Those arrested as of 3 p.m. Friday and lodged in the Three Forks Regional Jail were:

• Deborah “Debbie” Creech Bowman, 53, Lucas Hollow Road, Beattyville, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and second-degree persistent felony offender.
• Amber N. Brandenburg, 26, Beattyville, theft by unlawful taking under $500.
• Lelia Caldwell, 25, Old Fincastle Road, Booneville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Mary Conley, 34, Highway 399, Booneville, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Billie Sue Combs, 44, KY 1938, Booneville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance
• Heather Mays Foister, 34, Mays Subdivision Road, Beattyville, first-degree possession of a controlled substance and second-degree persistent felony offender.
• Jamie Law, 26, Main Street, Beattyville, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Jared Mays, 23, Manor Drive, Beattyville, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Michael Mays, 31, Manor Drive, Beattyville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Amanda McIntosh, 27, New Yellow Rock Road, Beattyville, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Gentry McIntosh, 56, Highway 399, Beattyville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (second offense) and persistent felony offender.
• Doug Phillips, 62, Highway 52 West, Beattyville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Ashley Shuler, 27, Highway 52 West, Beattyville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Jeremiah Shuler, 26, Old Hopewell Road, Beattyville, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Jordan Shuler, 26, Old Hopewell Road, Beattyville, three counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Crystal Slone, 28, Beattyville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and second-degree persistent felony offender.
• Alfred Thompson. 47, Shoemaker Ridge Road, Beattyville, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

Police were still actively seeking to make additional arrests. For more information about Operation UNITE visit their website at www.operationunite.org.

House Passes Scholarship Bill for Coal Counties

The House has passed a bill that would make college students from the coalfields eligible for special scholarships. The Thursday vote was unanimous. The bill will now proceed to the Senate for consideration. Democratic state Rep. Leslie Combs of Pikeville, the bill’s sponsor, said the scholarships of up to $6,600 a year would be available only to college juniors and seniors in 34 counties. The initiative is a compromise that came from a failed push last year to create a four-year public university in the Appalachian coalfields. Lawmakers saw that proposal, intended to boost the number of college graduates in the coalfields, as too expensive considering Kentucky’s tight state budget. The money for the scholarships will come from a tax on mined coal.

Feds Award $40M For Ridding Coal Mining Hazards

The Office of Surface Mining has awarded Kentucky a $40 million grant to eliminate environmental hazards caused by past coal mining. The money will go to the Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands The grants go to 28 coal-producing states annually. They're funded by a fee on mined coal and are intended to repair unstable slopes, eliminate acid mine drainage and restore damaged water supplies. Kentucky Natural Resources Commissioner Steve Hohmann said the grant money has been used in past years to close mine shafts and portals, put out mine fires, eliminate dangerous highwalls and subsidence and to provide drinking water to residents in mining communities.