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Police: Suspected weapons recovered in Smith murder case

2/7/2020

By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer

Mt. Sterling Police say they have found the weapons believed to have been used in the alleged September murder of Lenville Joshua “Josh” Smith, 27.

A hatchet and some knives reportedly hidden in the attic of a home at 143 Richmond Ave. under some insulation were recovered by detectives Jan. 30, police Det. Aaron Noel told the Advocate.

Authorities also recovered some clothing reportedly belonging to Smith at the same location, Noel said.
The items have been sent to the state crime lab in Frankfort for DNA and blood testing, the detective said.

The home reportedly belonged to Billy Joe Adkins, 53, who is one of the suspects in the alleged crime, Noel said.

Authorities served a search warrant at the Richmond Avenue address after Montgomery County Sheriff’s detectives Lt. Ralph Charles and Robert Workman received information about the weapons’ reported whereabouts, he said.

The sheriff’s office is participating in the investigation.

The six suspects in the alleged murder include Adkins, Mattie Renea Mahon, 39, of Mt. Sterling; Sonya Lynn Palmer, 46, of Mt. Sterling; Phillip James Tuttle, 46, of Mt. Sterling; Stanley Isaac Sargent, 39, of Morehead; and Richard Andrew McGaha, 41, of Mt. Sterling.

They were all arrested Sept. 19 and 20, 2019.
McGaha is charged with murder, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse. The others are charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence.

Tuttle was released from the Montgomery County Regional Jail Jan. 25 after posting a $100,000 at 10 percent bond, according to authorities.
Mahon’s attorney requested that she be released on an ankle monitor, but was turned down by Montgomery County Circuit Judge William “Bill” Lane. She and the others remain incarcerated.

The group is scheduled to have a status hearing Feb. 28 in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

The alleged murder occurred Sept. 4 at a home at 527 E. Locust St., according to a complaint warrant filed by Noel.

Smith had been reported missing by his family and had not been seen in several days.

Authorities allege that Smith and McGaha had engaged in a dispute in which Smith was struck in the head with a hatchet and stabbed multiple times.

Smith and McGaha both reportedly had a romantic interest in Mahon, police said.

McGaha was allegedly known to own/carry a hatchet on his leg, but it had not been seen by associates in recent days leading up to the arrests, according to authorities.

Noel’s complaint stated that through the investigation law enforcement reportedly spoke with several witnesses who gave similar accounts that Smith was allegedly killed in the residence he shared with McGaha.
A search of the residence reportedly revealed that the carpet and the box spring that were located in the victim’s bedroom recently had sections removed, according to the complaint.

The complaint said that the application of luminal to the cuts edges of the box spring revealed evidence of biological matter believed to be blood.
After the alleged murder witnesses reportedly told law enforcement that the body was placed in a deep freeze and dumped on the side of the road in Menifee County.

The body was reportedly wrapped in plastic and badly decomposed when it was recovered by authorities.

The complaint alleged that it was confirmed that McGaha and two others borrowed a vehicle a few days after the incident is believed to have occurred and returned it with all the gas used and filthy with mud.
The vehicle borrowed, according to authorities reportedly matched the description of the vehicle used to move the body that was provided to law enforcement by several witnesses.

Noel told the Advocate that the body was sent to the “Body Farm” in Knoxville, Tenn., for a positive identification, although investigators are confident that the body is that of Smith. Authorities are still awaiting a positive ID.

All six pleaded not guilty to the charges Sept. 26.
Smith’s sister, Danielle Smith Burton, said previously that Josh loved to play guitar and sing old country songs, even bluegrass.