Missing Kentucky boy, 5, found dead after his mother was pushed off cliff, police say

A 5-year-old boy feared kidnapped after his mother had been pushed off a 100-foot cliff in Kentucky has been found dead nearby, and a man now faces murder charges, Kentucky State Police confirmed Monday afternoon.

The boy, James Spoonamore, had been missing for three days in Kentucky’s Jackson County, WHAS reported.

An intense search for the child, who had just started school, was launched after his mother – 41-year-old Jessica Durham – was tossed from the cliff but survived with multiple broken bones on Friday. Hikers discovered her the following day.

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Durham told investigators she and her son were assaulted and kidnapped by 41-year-old Lonnie Belt, who was arrested Saturday evening, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. The exact relationship between Belt and Durham was unclear.

According to court records, Belt told authorities that he got into an argument with Durham over money, before abducting the two. He reportedly said he tied up the mother and drove her to the top of the cliff -- and when he untied her there, she tried fighting back before he pushed her.

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The revelations ignited a frantic search for Spoonamore over the weekend, with the assistance of volunteers, helicopters, the National Guard and K-9 units until the grim discovery Monday. An immediate cause of death for Spoonamore was not immediately given.

Belt has since been charged with murder, assault, kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence as the investigation continues.